Friday, March 5, 2010

Six Tips to Increase Your Kids Love (or at least like lessen their dislike) of Vegetables

Ever have a day when your kids are out to get you? I’m pretty sure every parent has had a few. Well, one time we were struggling to put my three-year-old son in his car seat. He was not interested… fighting, screaming, going straight as a board so that we could not maneuver him in.

Finally, I had enough and shouted (yes shouted) “If you don’t get into this car you will not get any broccoli at dinner! Seriously. The people passing us just stared. Then they started to laugh. Then we started laughing.

Are we the only parents to ever punish a child by NOT giving him veggies?? Possibly.

But that did start me thinking about how we lucked out with kids that love most vegetables.

I have to admit to not being a fan of hiding pureed veggies in food – it’s ok to make sure they get veggie goodness, if they never eat them, but it really doesn’t teach them to LIKE veggies.

My kids really like a lot of veggies – well no potatoes for my daughter and my son won’t eat mushrooms but broccoli, cauliflower and carrots are dinner plate staples. And they will try veggies – sometimes only a bite before they spit it across the table (seriously) but I have to give them props for trying.

I don’t know if there are really any simple tricks to get kids to eat vegetables but here are my tips. What are yours?
From Thai Red Curry

1. Lead by example. If you happily eat veggies at every meal, they may not see veggies as the enemy.

2. Start early. I didn’t give my kids a choice. Meals for the first few years were pretty plain but filled with lots of pretty veggies. Lots of steamed or pureed vegetables (depending on their age) WITHOUT cheese, butter, or other sauce. To this day my 6 year old prefers her veggies without, as she says, “goo.”

3. If you want to increase their veggie count, let them pick a veggie once a week…whatever it is, everyone at the table has to try at least a bite of it. And if possible let them help prepare it – even if it’s just putting the cut veggies into a bowl or pan (not hot of course). Not only might they find a new veggie they like, you might too!

4. Try different cooking methods, if age appropriate. Texture is everything when you are three! Do they like carrots mushy or firmer? If older, do they like raw veggies rather than cooked? Boiled, steamed, grilled, mashed, chopped, grated, small, large… try it all!

5. If plain just won’t work for your kids, what about a healthier sauce then ketchup (not that there is anything wrong with ketchup – I LOVE ketchup)? What about peanut butter – maybe even a bit melted? Or plain yogurt? Ask them – it might sound gross to you but if they like broccoli with pickle juice (ok, that may not be healthier than ketchup) what the heck!

6. Most important piece of advice: DON’T GIVE UP!

If anyone has any other tips email them to me at and I’ll post them for all to see!

Note on kids and choking:
My son almost choked to death on a marble. He managed to throw it up on his own but it was a scary 30 seconds or so. It can happen fast. And it can happen with marbles, food, batteries or any other number of things. Click here for a great article on kids and choking - including food dangers- put out by BC Children's Hospital. Read it.

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