Over 65% of parents report problems getting their children to eat vegetables. Kids should eat 3-5 servings per day, but a third of kids don’t eat a single serving of vegetables on a given day. There are easy ways to encourage your kids to eat — and enjoy! — vegetables. Try some of these tips.
~ Put vegetables on a pedestal.
It’s an odd fact that while vegetables are a healthy cornerstone of any diet, they are usually relegated to a back corner side dish. While interesting recipes appear for main dishes, the vegetables are often steamed or boiled in a routinely boring presentation. Start treating vegetables as the star of the meal and your kids will too.
~ Name the star of the show.
Vegetables rarely get the spotlight. When kids ask, “what’s for dinner?” we name the meat and starch – “Chicken and rice” or “Steak and potatoes” and don’t even mention the vegetables. From now on, name the veggies first. Create a fun name for the vegetable of the day you can help your children view them in a different light. So, what’s for dinner? “We’re having Brilliant Bunches of Broccoli along with chicken and rice.”
~ Search out new recipes for veggies.
Try stir-frying a mix of veggies with olive oil to give them an attractive presentation and a unique flavor. Add a sprinkling of nuts or seeds or a dribble of sauce. Mix two or even three kinds of vegetables together for a colorful dish.
~ Get artistic.
It can be fun to serve vegetables in interesting containers or arranged colorfully in patterns or shapes
~ Let them dip ’em.
Serve a platter of raw veggies with dipping sauce such as ranch dressing, yogurt or hummus Kids often prefer raw vegetables over cooked, especially if they can dip.
~ Give kids a choice.
Routinely serve two vegetables at dinner so that you double the chance your child will eat at least one. Plus, seeing two vegetables will build an expectation that vegetables are important.
~ Get sneaky.
While you are teaching your child about nutrition, go ahead and hide some vegetables within other recipes to up your child’s daily quota. It’s easy to add chopped spinach to hamburgers, pureed squash into macaroni and cheese, crushed cauliflower into mashed potatoes, or bits of carrots and broccoli into spaghetti sauce. That way your kids get the benefits of vegetables no matter what.
Excerpted from The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution (McGraw-Hill) by Elizabeth Pantley
Elizabeth Pantley is mother of four and the author of the now-classic baby sleep book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution, as well as The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution, The No-Cry Potty Training Solution and The No-Cry Discipline Solution along with seven other successful parenting books. Visit her at pantley.com