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How to get your kids to eat and enjoy vegetables…

May 22, 2018

squash blossom bouquet

We are happy to feature an article from Kristin Louis on getting your kids excited about eating vegetables… Enjoy!

How You Can Get Your Kids to Eat and Enjoy Vegetables

Every parent knows the struggle of trying to get their kids to eat healthily. A big part of that is eating enough vegetables. Often, this can be a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be.

Show Them How It’s Done

It isn’t enough to tell your children to eat their veggies because they’re healthy. Shockingly, children don’t often care about what’s healthy. Inspire your children to love vegetables by using model behavior. If you want your child to be enthusiastic about leafy greens, you’ll need to be excited, too. Eat what you serve to your children and show them how delicious those vegetables are firsthand.

Don’t be afraid to play with your food, either. Broccoli can be tiny trees that are the perfect food for giants. Kale or chard could be the perfect fuel for dinosaurs, and mushrooms might become exactly what a happy swamp monster needs to stay, well, swampy.

Make It Colorful

Kids like fun. Adding bright colors to foods is a way to make eating more enjoyable. There are so many ways you can add color to a dish by using healthy vegetables. Adding beets to a dish can not only add fiber, vitamins and folate, but it can turn it into a shockingly fun shade of fuchsia. Carrots are a bright orange, and are the perfect vehicle for some blended beans in a dip. Add some pureed white beans to avocado to make an even healthier guacamole, and instead of chips, use different brightly colored vegetables cut into fun shapes for dipping. The more colors, the better — and more fun this snack can be for little ones, especially when it comes to finger food. Once they realize how tasty and entertaining these foods can be, they may be more inclined to choose them themselves.

Make Things Appear Less Exciting

This may seem counterintuitive, but studies suggest that when other foods present aren’t as exciting, vegetables tend to be eaten. If given the choice to eat something green like spinach or green beans versus a helping of macaroni and cheese, you can imagine what is left on the plate. It isn’t a good idea to deny them things including macaroni and cheese or hamburgers, but be clever with how you serve them. It’s extra work, but serve the veggies first, and don’t have the other, “yummier” food visible until after the vegetables have been eaten. Not only are your children more likely to finish their vegetables this way, you may get them in the habit of eating them first.

Hide Them

Sometimes, no matter what you do, kids just don’t want vegetables. Young children are especially sensitive to the bitter taste of some of the healthiest vegetables. One way to get those vegetables eaten is to hide or mask the bitter flavor. Grass-fed butter contains plenty of vitamins, and the healthy fat may actually help them absorb the nutrients from the vegetables. Don’t hesitate to put a small dab on your child’s spinach or kale to make it more interesting. Roasting vegetables can bring out their natural sugars and sweeten them. If even the sight of vegetables causes your little one to throw a tantrum, hide them in their meals by pureeing them and mixing them into a sauce.

Get Them Involved

Children, like most people, like feeling they are in control and have some say in decision-making. One great way you can encourage and inspire your children with a love of vegetables is to let them choose for themselves. Take them to the Uptown Wednesday or Saturday farmers market and have them pick out interesting and unique vegetables to get them excited about trying new things. If they get overwhelmed, or are only interested in starchy vegetables, hold up two healthy veggies and ask them to pick between the two. They will still feel involved and may be more excited about eating them.

It may take a little extra work, but you can get your children inspired by vegetables. It just takes time. With a little modification and a bit of prep, you’ll be well on your way to having a child who eats their vegetables.

-Kristin Louis

Kris Louis is mom to two rambunctious boys. Her oldest is 10 and her youngest is 7. A former advertising copywriter, she recently created parentingwithkris.com, where she puts her skills to work writing about the trials and tribulations of parenting. Kris, her husband, and two boys live in Durham, NC.

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McClendon’s Select will be at the Uptown Wednesday Farmers’s market tomorrow with some of the beautiful squash blossoms, like those featured above, and we will continue to be there through June 20th.  We will also be at the Uptown Saturday market this weekend and throughout the summer at the SE corner of Central Avenue and Bethany Home Road.  Stop by and bring your kiddos!

 

One Comment leave one →
  1. Melissa permalink
    May 23, 2018 5:53 pm

    Spot on and well written! My pre-school class loved coming up with new names for veggies. Broccoli stayed as little trees, but summer squash rounds became flying saucers! And, if your kids love ranch, a little bit on some veggies (think broccoli, spinach) may make all the difference! And, for the really stubborn, or even bored kids, a small squirt of ketchup on some corn kernels (golden unicorn food) or green beans (green canoes) can help liven them up–both in color and taste. (Worried about the ketchup being not healthy? It is available in various varieties–including organic and with low sugar or cane/agave sugar, etc. And think of it as just adding a little lycopene, which is more available in cooked tomatoes.)

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