The mere whisper of the word vegetable caused my older boys to turn up their noses and go into a fight or flight response. I didn’t do a good job with my first two children when it came down to getting them to eat healthful foods because I wasn’t eating them myself. I am thankful I started learning more about nutrition so that I can do better with my second two children. It’s not too late to influence the first two, but since they are grown and cooking for themselves it is a little more challenging. I hope that these ideas help someone to encourage their children to eat more vegetables and other healthy foods because this is a subject near and dear to my heart. If we can raise kids who love eating good, fresh, nutritious foods, they will have a jump start on life and avoid so many health problems.
Here are some successful strategies I have found. This is the stealth method. Try putting grated zucchini and carrots in meatballs, spaghetti sauce, or meatloaf. The addition of those veggies can add moisture and nutrients. My kids have eaten these foods many times without realizing they’ve had extra vegetables. They are getting vegetables and still enjoying the foods they love.
Pureed cauliflower and squash can be added to sauces, broths, or pot pie.
I add zucchini slices to homemade pizza. They are mild and tasty.
Many vegetables can be added to smoothies. My children will drink all sorts of smoothies packed with vegetables that they think they don’t like. As a family we even made Popeye Ice Cream in the blender that is green ice cream made with spinach. Its green but tastes like vanilla ice cream. Now vegetables are not only tasty, they are fun!
Try new veggies or try veggies prepared a different way. For example, my husband didn’t really care for raw cauliflower but he enjoys them roasted with garlic and Italian seasoning. By trying them a new way you may surprise your family and find something they like without having to be sneaky. I’ve spent my whole life thinking I hated Brussels sprouts because I had only tasted them boiled or steamed. I never made them for my family since I didn’t like them myself. I tried them roasted at a restaurant and found them to be surprisingly good. I made them for my family and now roasted Brussels sprouts are a family favorite.
My kids love kale chips. Take kale leaves and put them in a bag with some olive oil and salt (garlic too if you like it). Put the seasoned kale on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes (check on them often – they may be done sooner) until they are crispy. My kids can put away a whole head of kale in a matter of minutes!
You can also make your own salsa. Salsa is delicious and somehow doesn’t seem to taste like vegetables. Commercial salsas can contain unwanted ingredients like sugar and chemicals. Making your own can help ensure that your family is getting great nutrition without the extra junk.
One of the things that helps with my family is to let my kids help me in the kitchen. They buy into the preparation and anticipation of a good meal. Frequently when they have helped prepare the meal they are more likely to eat it.