Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables

I asked my fellow sisters how they encourage their kids to eat vegetables. Here are their responses:

Carol: (the sneaky chef)
I puree carrots and keep them frozen in one cup portions.  Then every time I make pancakes or smoothies, I throw in a cup of it.  Or sometimes I use canned pumpkin instead.  I also let them salt their vegetables to make them more palatable. Croutons makes the salad go down.  Or maybe just makes the croutons go down, I don't know but we try.  

Lisa: (the vegetable expert and local produce supporter)

So, how do I get my kids to eat vegetables?
  • eat veggies myself
  • keep offering them even though they've balked at them several times
  • tell myself, if they are really hungry, they will eat.  They will survive if they refuse to eat.  Downplay it. 
  • put them in soups, on pizza, in curry, lasagne, spaghetti sauce, green smoothies
  • let the kids help prepare them (Rex loves eating a chef salad he's made) They are more willing to eat them if they've given the effort to wash and chop them.  Even more so if they helped grow them in the garden!
  • let them help pick them out at the store
Sometimes if a child is eating a lot of carbs or dairy and ignoring the veggies I expect them to eat veggies before they have second servings of the other.  I talk with them about a balance and point out and label what they've eaten.  "you've had some chicken, that's protein, you've had noodles, that's grains, what veggies will you eat?" 

Nancy: (crazy vitamins)
Most of our kids have been pretty good about eating basic vegetables.  Of course, I'm a picky eater with vegetables, so I figure if I'll eat it, they should too.  And my general rule is to not mix vegetables into other stuff because then I don't want to eat it either.  Vegetables are side dishes.  Meaning they belong on the side.  That said, Josh does not like vegetables.  With him we have done V8 Splash for a while to get them in, but I don't like doing it for very long.  We found a vitamin that's mostly vegetable stuff that tastes like hamster food, but he loves it!  In the end though, saying that he has to eat his vegetables before dessert is usually the most effective.  He might not eat them till everyone else is eating cookies, but he'll eat them.

Margaret's comment: How do you know what hamster food tastes like Nancy?

Anna: (fabulous chef and gardener)
As far as vegetables go, each of my kids is very different.  They all like roasted asparagus (that way it's not soggy!) and will eat kale in soup or with eggs (ie in quiche).  
It generally helps if they get to help with growing or preparing it.  Cherry tomatoes straight from the bush are always gobbled up, but I suspect that eggplant wouldn't be any more popular if we grew it ourselves! 

Margaret: (married to a green veggie lover) 
I asked my kids this question. The number one response was "put it in a smoothie" which was followed quickly by "but only spinach." Truthfully I haven't even tried to put any other veggie than spinach in smoothies..... yet. 

The other response was "no dessert unless you eat your vegetable." Yep, that's the rule around here.

Growing up I remember Mom didn't like to put vegetables away as leftovers. So you not only had to eat veggies to get dessert, but if the vegetables weren't gone after once around the table they got passed around again and everyone had to take a few more (3 more green beans usually did the trick). Then dessert could be served.

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