When I was growing up we ate what was put down in front of us – or we stayed at the table til it was all gone. And trust me cold brussel sprouts at 11.15pm are NOT NICE and the little buggers don’t flush either!
But sometime over the last few decades it seems kids obtained rights! (No I have no lingering hang ups from my childhood – really)
But on a serious note, if you’ve ever tried to get fruit and veggies down the throat of a young picky eater, you know the meaning of words like frustration, exasperation, desperation. Dinner time becomes a battle – and goodness knows what is going in the old pie hole at school – regardless of the healthy fruit and veggie filled lunch box that went out the door with them.
I have a picky eater husband (equivalent to having a child at times) and I baby sit several picky eater neices and nephews – so I only have to see the pain some of the time! I don’t envy full time parents at meal time – that’s for sure.
But here are some tricks that have worked on my young neices and nephews so I thought I’d share them (don’t let them see this blog or the jig will be up and then – well – I got nuthin’ – you’re on you own!)
5 ideas to get more fruit and veggies into your kids
Children love smoothies and milkshakes. You can add fruits, and even vegetables, to the smoothies of children without them knowing they’re drinking their fruits and vegetables. Bananas, berries, carrots, and even apples and celery can be added. You can also add leafy greens like spinach but the green color of the smoothie will be a dead giveaway. You may want to introduce leafy greens later when your child is accustomed to smoothies.
Check out our previous posts to get more info on how to make your smoothies as delicious as a milkshake
It’s amazing what happens when you place a tray of vegetables and dip on the table during snack time. When children don’t have to eat their vegetables, they’re more likely to enjoy them. A low-pressure snack with celery, carrots, cucumbers, and other child-friendly vegetables is a great way to get a few more vegetables into their diets. Good dips to consider include hummus made of chickpeas, or guacamole containing avocado. You can also switch it up with an occasional fruit and cheese tray, and fun fruit dips made out of yogurt and pureed fruits.
It’s sneaky, but it works. Like fruit purees, you can add vegetable purees to just about anything. You can add them to spaghetti, muffins, brownies, and even taco meat. Squash makes a great puree but so do vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and even beans.
Serve two vegetables at mealtime
One great way to get more vegetables into your children’s diets is to serve two vegetables at mealtime. Serve a cooked vegetable and a salad, for example. If you’re also being sneaky and placing purees in your food, then your children may even be able to get three or more servings of vegetables at dinner time.
Serve salsas, sauces, and vegetable dips and make veggies fun
Any sauce or dip that’s made from a vegetable, helps you get more veggies into your children’s diets. Serve salsas and vegetable sauces at mealtimes when appropriate. For example, salsa can be served with scrambled eggs, or hummus with celery stalks. Even apples and peanut butter can get a serving of fruit into your children. Consider making ants on a log, where you put peanut butter on celery, and then raisins on top. Some children think that this is fun, and don’t even notice that they’re eating healthier food options.
With a little planning ahead, a bit of sneakiness, and a commitment to implement the above strategies, you can get more fruits and vegetables into your children’s diets. It’s important to take a relaxed approach to eating. If you force children to eat veggies, they’re likely to resist. Instead, ask them to try their fruit and veggies.
Children have different taste buds than adults. It may take a few ‘tastes’ for them to learn to like a fruit or vegetable. Of course, don’t reward them with dessert if they don’t eat their vegetables, but forcing it may result in a backlash. Provide your children with plenty of opportunities to eat fruit and veggies, and they will eventually develop healthy eating habits.