Every parent knows the struggle of getting their kids to eat their vegetables. The most important message that we can send out is that kids can eat what we eat! Restaurants and media have made us think that kids need to eat things like chicken nuggets, pizza, mac and cheese, hot dogs and spaghetti. The kids menu has been infiltrated by food impostors. Come to find out we have created this problem by not introducing kids to foods throughout their entire childhood. This blog is dedicated to giving parents ideas on how to increase vegetable intake in their kids.
The No Thank You Bite
This method is used to help your kid try new foods. Kids won’t try some foods based off of how they look. The “no thank you” bite means the kid has to try everything on their plate at least once before being able to leave the table. Kids feel more open to trying new foods when they realize they only have to try a bite instead of cleaning their plate. The more often you utilize this the less resistance you will get from the kids!
Of course we don’t want kids to end up not eating a meal because they took their one bite and they move on. If the child doesn’t like the meal we recommend that you always have a small meal available to give the kid to have for the meal instead of nothing. EX: Greek yogurt, PB & J, trail mix or a granola bar.
Kids Don’t Have to Clean Their Plates
The act of making children clear their plate causes them to lose their connection with their bodies natural cues. Every kid is different as well. Some children do better with 5 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day. While others sense hunger just a few times and like the bigger meals. Allowing kids to listen to their bodily cues can help save them from over eating in the future.
On that note, if kids are not forced to clean their plate it also means that the food on the plate needs to be the most nourishing foods available. Making sure that there is a vegetable and protein source at every meal is important since those are very nourishing food groups.
The Hidden Veggie
I’m sure everyone has heard of this tactic or has tried it in the past. But it really does work. There are so many different ideas on the market now and even multiple cookbooks dedicated to hiding vegetables in your food. Cauliflower has been shown to be the most magical vegetable on the market. It has the ability to replace pizza crust, mashed potatoes and rice. Green giant now sells broccoli tots, tator tots made out of broccoli instead of potatoes.
Other great options to “hide” your vegetables is to cover them with more flavorful food. Adding spinach or broccoli into macaroni and cheese. Pureed vegetables in soups and stews.
In the book, The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals By Missy Chase Lapine, she talks about multiple strategies on how to incorporate healthy foods into your kids diet. One such technique is to add pureed vegetables into meals such as the example listed above. You can puree spinach and carrots to add to a tomato sauce to go on top of spaghetti.
Limit Reward Foods
Sweets and desserts have become more frequent in our daily diets. Foods that used to be called “treats” are now common place. Unfortunately, these treats have become even more sugar and calorie dense as the years go on. It is important to stop the expectations of sweet foods at night. Desserts are not a necessary part of your daily diet. Letting kids eat sweet food after dinner makes them feel like this is healthy and should be carried on into adulthood. Sweets and desserts should not be used if healthy foods have not been consumed first. We often see sweets given to “picky” eaters when they refuse to eat their normal meal.
Get Them Involved in the Process
Take your kids to orchards, take them to the farmers market. Especially get them in the kitchen. Your kids will be more excited to try the food that they pick from the tree or that they decide looks good. Your kids should pick one fruit and one vegetable to try for the week. This helps expose them to variety and a willingness to try new things.
Daily Fruit and Vegetable Check Off List
An erasable chalkboard is one strategy that people recommend be used not only for keeping track of nutritious foods but also for weekly chores. On this chalk board you can have a space for your kid to check off two fruits and three vegetables at the end of every day. They can also write down the healthy food they would like to eat that week.
Here are some recipes that we love and they are loaded with good vegetables. Please let us know what you think of them. The zucchini nacho recipe is also great for a lower carb football game snack.
- 6 medium zucchini cleaned and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2-1 cup cheddar or colby-jack cheese
- Toppings as desired: Black beans Whole Kernel Corn, Diced Tomatoes, Green Onions, Jalapeno Peppers, Sour Cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl combine zucchini, cumin, salt and oil. Stir well. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spread zucchini onto pan in a single layer. Roast 10-15 minutes or until slightly tender. (Avoid overcooking.)
Remove zucchini from oven and sprinkle cheese over.
Return to oven to melt.
Add toppings as desired. Serve warm.
Servings per recipe: 3 Calories per serving: 197 Protein per serving; 10gm Carbohydrates per serving: 13gm Fat per serving: 13gm
Recipe brought to you by:
- Handful spinach
- 1/2 banana
- 1 date
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon sugar-free peanut butter
- 4 ounces milk of choice
- 1/2 cup ice
- 1/8th avocado
- Place all ingredients in blender and combine. Adjust liquid/ice to desired consistency. Enjoy!