With the emphasis on kids eating healthy, one of the biggest challenges is to get them to eat enough vegetables. Here are 10 suggestions for helping kids eat their veggies and enjoy them, too.
1. Cut up raw veggies and put them in little baggies in the refrigerator. This way they can have their own single-serve snack sack.
2. Let your child help choose vegetables at the store for your family to eat. Talk about the different kinds of vegetables while you are there. They can even feel some of the vegetables and note the different textures.
3. Offer a small serving of a vegetable with a healthy dip and tell them they can ask for seconds when they finish. Be sure to see the next edition of this blog, www.CookingandKids.com, for a healthy dip recipe.
4. Let your child help you prepare the vegetable. They may be more apt to eat it if they have a hand in the preparation.
5. Remember not to overcook vegetables. Have them slightly crisp and crunchy. They will have a brighter color and taste better than soggy, overcooked vegetables.
6. Serve vegetables as finger-food-appetizers. When you are cooking dinner and the kids are hungry, steam some broccoli, carrots, or other vegetable and put them out for the children to eat before dinner.
7. Use praise and maybe resort to rewards. Praise can really make a difference in how a child likes a food. Some parents have resorted to using stickers as rewards.
8. Keep offering children vegetables, even if they say they don’t like them. Repeated exposure tends to get them more accepting of the food.
9. Use the “one bite rule”. Tell them they need to eat at least one bite before they say they don’t like it.
10. Hide vegetables in foods like muffins and casseroles. When your children find out your “method”, you can have a guessing game: “What is the Secret Ingredient?”
It’s important to start early by offering your children a variety of foods. Make mealtimes fun and show by example your interest in food and enjoyment in preparing and eating.
To your health and that of your family,
Child nutrition advocate
Author of award winning cookbooks