Encouraging kids to eat their vegetables can be quite the challenge, but here are five tips I’ve found to be quite effective when dealing with a stubborn eater!
Tip 1: Mix vegetables with foods they already love
Instead of regular pizza, I make a deep-dish pan pizza for my nephews and niece. The sauce is rather thick so I’m able to chop up a whole green pepper and stir it into the sauce. Because each serving is as dense as a piece of pie, they don’t even notice the extra serving of greens they’re eating!
Or, next time you make spaghetti, try adding small portions of zucchini pasta along with their favorite noodles. And throw in some small pieces of cauliflower with the next serving of orange chicken. They likely won’t complain and may even grow to like the veggie versions of their favorite foods.
Tip 2: Experiment with different presentations
Even if your kids have resisted eating certain veggies, changing up how they are presented can make a big difference. They may turn their nose at salads, but it’s harder to turn down shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes on top of delicious-looking tacos. One of my nephews intensely dislikes carrots and broccoli, but gobbled them up when I cut them both into half-inch pieces and mixed them into garlic noodles!
Tip 3: Get kids involved in the cooking
I’ve found that kids are much more willing to eat dishes they helped make, even if that dish contains vegetables they’ve considered their mortal enemy! There’s something about them getting hands-on with their food that becomes an effective form of persuasion. So let them brush a little olive oil on grilled eggplant slices, and ask for their help tossing some greens in a large bowl.
Tip 4: Tell them how important vegetables are for growth
Vegetables contain nutrients and antioxidants that are extremely beneficial for growth. Young children usually want to grow bigger as fast as possible! Remind them that if they want to become as tall as their sibling, as fast as their favorite professional athlete, or as strong as a superhero, then they need to eat their veggies!
While there are endless ideas on this topic, the important thing is to keep trying. I’d also highly recommend directly asking kids what might encourage them to eat more veggies – you might learn from what they tell you!