Kids and Vegetables, they just don’t go together that well but luckily, I have the wonderful Tegan Bissell from @Cooklikeadietitian to give us some tips for how to get the kiddies to eat their greens.
I am so excited about this collaboration! I found Tegan on Instagram and wanted to work with her straight away. Luckily for me, she accepted 🙂 If you don’t follow her on Instagram, I highly recommend it. Her photos are beautiful, she has informative but very funny posts and you can learn a lot from her little suggestions.
So I will pass this post over to Tegan….
Kids and veggies. Two things you don’t usually find together, just at least not without some form of bribery or death threats!
I can remember an intense dislike of peas as a child, I had a trick where I would pretend to eat the peas to ap”peas”e my mother. When my mom went to clear the table she would discover a cascade of peas rolling off the table and onto the floor and me escaping into my room! Eventually, I realized peas weren’t all that bad, and neither were the majority of other vegetables.
As a Registered Dietitian, I now can’t get enough of the nourishment and unique array of flavors that vegetables provide to us, and laugh about the days when I would do anything to avoid eating them!
How to get your kids to eat more vegetables you ask?
Get them involved!
Kids have a natural desire to learn and be a part of everything around them. In the countless cooking classes I have taught, I have watched the most veggie-resistant kid end up devouring their plate once they get a chance to do some of the cooking themselves. Have them pick out a new veggie at the store. Show they how to safely chop a vegetable. Let them help you cook a veggie or mix a salad. You might be surprised when they give it a try!
Exposure, Exposure, Exposure!!!
Kids have to try a food at least 10 times before their taste buds can determine if they will actually like it or not. If they’ve tried it once and hated it, that veggie is not necessarily done for. Continue to serve them a variety of veggies on their plate and encourage them to at least take one bite. If they do not want to eat it all, that’s their choice. Even just serving it to them again may increase their comfort with that food. It takes a little bit of patience, but don’t get discouraged, you may be surprised when one day they actually take a bite, then two, then start asking for asparagus 😉
Get creative with cooking vegetables in different ways. If you tend to always boil or steam, the flavor may get a little bland after a while. Try roasting, grilling, sautéing them in a stir-fry, or sneaking them into casseroles and mixed dishes. Kids may find they dislike a veggie raw, but love it roasted! Pair different colors of veggies together or with the other foods on the plate. Nothing is more pleasing to the child’s eye than bright colors or shapes!
Take advantage of their caveman instincts.
Kids can usually recognize their hunger signals when their tummies growl, which can be satisfied by almost anything if they are hungry enough. Keep precut vegetables and fruits available for snacks when they are hungry and save less healthy snacks for when they are full (like after dinner). They will be more likely to try the vegetable snacks, and they will fill up on healthier foods more often.
If all else fails (but it won’t if you have patience, I promise), continue to model good habits by eating vegetables yourself.
Kids are walking sponges and learn through observation (monkey see, monkey do)! So if you eat vegetables and demonstrate a positive relationship with those foods, your child will become more comfortable with these foods, and want to eat some too. Eat dinner together as a family as often as possible; showcase those delicious veggies you prepared, and chow down like they are going out of style and the rest will fall into place!
Check out the kid-friendly veggie recipes below and let me know in the comments if there is anything that has worked with your family to help kids eat more vegetables!
Roasted Kale Chips
For more recipes and health tips, follow Tegan on Instagram @cooklikeadietitian!
Have a great week,