Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More Peas, Please! (Getting your kids to say yes to veggies!)

I thought I didn't have a picky eater. That was when my son was about ten months old and sucking down every possible puree I could throw at him. Then solids started. And he suddenly, amazingly, learned the art of "The Heisman" as my husband and I call it. He stiff arms me the minute I try to bring the spoon to his mouth. He will not eat spinach, white potatoes, corn, or several other great veggies!

If this continues, I'll have to be VERY creative in how I present vegetables to him in the future. Here's 10 tips I am hoping will work for me, and might be useful for you too!

  1. Puree veggies into stuffed shell fillings.
  2. Grate carrots and other veggie into meatloaf and/or meatballs.
  3. Combine a vegetable he won't eat with something of the same color that he will eat. Like butternut squash with carrots. If I dice them the same size and steam, it's possible they will slip in unnoticed. The carrots that is - see, you didn't even see them!
  4. Soups are a great place to hide veggies. Grate, puree, or dice them really small so they are incognito!
  5. Fruit/veggie blends are a good option. Most kids like fruits and may not mind if a few veggies are mixed in.
  6. Pizza! A great place to hide some finely chopped, delicately flavored veggies (steam first so they don't have a crunchy texture!).
  7. Drinks - Several juice companies are now making vegetable blend beverages. Like apple carrot - it's actually good!
  8. Let them help. For older kids who are going to be able to figure out what you're doing hiding all those veggies, try getting them to help make the meal. They might be more invested if they start just handling the vegetable.
  9. Your bite is your vote. I try to maintain a "no thank you portion" rule in our house. You can't say "no thank you" to a dish unless you've at least tasted a spoonful. That teaspoonful is your "no thank you portion," as in, "Will you have some more?" "No thank you, I've had some already!" Perhaps by constant exposure to certain foods, the child will come to like it. I used to HATE pickles and now I LOVE them!
  10. Grow it. Engage your child in the process of growing their own foods and they will probably be interested in tasting it!
You know, as I think about it, I am not that concerned that my son eat EVERY vegetable out there. I mean, I don't. But I want him to try many of them, and have a somewhat diverse palate, even if he, like his mom, doesn't ever develop a fondness for eggplants or beets. As long as my kids can enjoy a good 6-8 types of vegetables, I will be happy!

Sarah Matheny, author of “Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love,” has some other great tips I didn't think of! They include:

  • Warm ‘em up or cool ‘em down. While your children may not like raw broccoli, they may enjoy it lightly steamed. Roasted carrots may be too squishy, but they may love crunching into a raw baby carrot. Try new ways of preparation before writing off a veggie completely.

  • Keep their favorites on the side. At our house, we keep the fruit and yogurt off the table until we’ve eaten a fair amount of our veggies. This way they have a little incentive to graduate to their next course without feeling like we are bribing them with dessert.

  • Get them sauced. Find a healthy sauce you approve of and that your kids enjoy and let them use it liberally. Dip, drizzle and mix it in and your kids will be eating veggies you never dreamed of.

  • Sounds good to me!

    How do you get your children to eat their veggies?

    I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Peas and Thank You blogging program for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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