We all know that vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. They give children lots of energy and help them grow up healthy and strong. But getting their recommended five a day, every day? That’s tough! Fortunately, we’ve got some brilliant tips and tricks for getting kids to eat their vegetables. Keep calm and carrot on!
Ready for some brilliant tips and tricks? Here we go…
1. Dip it!
There’s a reason people serve dips at parties — they’re fun to eat! Slice some veg such as carrot, cucumber, bell pepper and celery and serve alongside a tasty dip. Whip up an easy dip with Greek yoghurt, seasoning and a pinch of salt. Or try your luck with hummus, guacamole or nut butter.
2. Start things off right.
Before you serve dinner, try putting out a plate of fresh-cut crunchy veg as a ‘starter’ for hungry children to snack on. Being hungry makes them more likely to actually partake, and this also means that they’ll get some extra veg in before the main meal.
3. Make it cute!
Kids naturally gravitate towards bright, happy-looking food. Making the food look ‘fun’ is a wonderful way to encourage children to try something new. Create little faces, shapes or animals from cut-up pieces of fruit or veg, or try a cute Bento box arrangement. Sure, it’s labour-intensive, but if it works, it’ll be worth it!
4. Grow (or pick) your own!
Fresh-picked veg just tastes better than ones bought in the supermarket, and this is doubly true if you grew it yourself. If you have space, plant a vegetable patch. Taking care of the plants and watching them grow could make children more likely to want to try the ‘fruits’ of their labour. If you can’t grow a garden, you could always take a day-trip to a farm that offers pick-your-own services. Buy a Rainbow Veg growing kit here!
5. Enlist your child as a shopping buddy…
This one works especially well for picky eaters. Have your child help make the shopping list and let them select the vegetables they’d be comfortable eating. Or take them with you to the farmer’s market or supermarket to pick out what they’d like from the vegetable section. Giving children a choice at the beginning means they’re more likely to go along with the end result.
6. Cook together.
Cooking together can be a great bonding experience, and sometimes children are more inclined to try something if they’ve had a hand in making it. Get your child involved at an age-appropriate level. Ask them to help you wash and clean vegetables, shell peas or arrange slices on a plate. Who knows, they might even get curious and want to taste something along the way…
7. Experiment with your cooking methods…
Sometimes it’s more about how the vegetables are cooked than the vegetables themselves. Experiment with stir-frying and sauteing. Or try oven-frying, a healthier alternative to deep-frying, which can produce crunchy, tasty veg that can entice even the pickiest of eaters. To do this, just pop some veg onto a baking tray with a bit of olive oil and seasoning, and pop the tray into the oven. Voila! Much better than boiled!
8. Butter and cheese, please!
Many children’s tastebuds don’t react well to the bitterness found in vegetables like broccoli and kale. One way to counteract this bitterness is with butter or cheese sauce. And if it doesn’t work, at least you will have extra-tasty leftovers to eat from your children’s plates!
9. Dine as a family.
Of course, it’s not always possible for everyone to sit down together. But there’s research that shows that children whose families eat meals together consume more vegetables than those who don’t. Mealtime is also the ideal time to model good behaviour — so load up your plates with greens, Mum and Dad!
10. Get sneaky…
Sure, it’d be better if your kids willingly ate their vegetables, but sometimes a parent’s gotta do what a parent’s gotta do… Blend veggies into pasta sauce or mince. Make a healthier macaroni cheese recipe that substitutes some of the cheese sauce for pureed butternut squash. Pop some avocado or spinach into a sweet fruit smoothie or homemade ice lollies. If you’re feeling extra sneaky, you can even slip courgettes, beets or carrot into baked goods. Don’t worry — our lips are sealed!
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What is long, green and slowly turning red? A cucumber holding its breath!