What parent doesn't struggle with this? My kids are good eaters compared to some other kids I know, but we still deal with a lot of pickiness. We also get stuck in a rut, with my kids eating the same green beans and corn all week long.
Here are some things we have done to get the kids to eat more vegetables:
1) Serve it first. You know that hour before dinner when everyone is starving? Put out some raw veggies and dip and watch how fast your kids gobble it up. My kids once ate an entire bag of celery while we were waiting for my husband to bring home pizza. They will say they don't like it, but when they got hungry enough, they thought it was great.
2) Let them help you make it. Three months ago, if you had told me my son would ASK for zucchini on a regular basis, I would have told you that you were crazy. But one day when our produce box came with zucchini, I let him help me peel the zucchini (using a special peeler made for children), and he was thrilled to try it. I was happy he was trying it. It made it even better that he ended up loving it!
3) Try it a different way. When we serve broccoli, we serve it raw to one kid and cooked to the other two. It's the way they eat it best. My kids don't like cooked carrots but love them raw. You can also try your veggies in different shapes. Instead of carrot sticks, try carrot chips. Make sweet potato fries or "kale chips" (I haven't tried this yet, but I saw a recipe for kale chips a few weeks ago and it looked yummy!
4) Salads. Most kids like lettuce and love dressing. Find a dressing they like and let them build their own salads with toppings like grated carrots, bell peppers of all colors, and cucumbers.
5) Eat it yourself. You know how the kids always want what you are eating? Yeah. That works even with veggies.
6) Don't introduce too much at one time. And don't give up after one try. You know how they say it can take up to 10 tries for a baby to get used to a new food? Apply the same logic to your toddler or preschooler and keep trying.
7) Let them dip. Ranch is a popular choice, but my kids also like to use Italian dressing. They will also eat celery with peanut butter. You can make a cheese dip for broccoli or cauliflower. Some kids love salsa as a dip for veggies (bonus: salsa also counts as a veggie & you can sneak green peppers, onions and other veggies into it!) And don't discount the power of ketchup. I have a weird child who will eat almost anything with ketchup, even green vegetables. Another note about dips: hummus is a dip, and is made from beans, right? My kids always beg for my hummus because it involves dipping pita bread. They have no idea the hummus is made from beans.
8) Take a picnic. Another way I can get my kids to try new raw veggies is by letting them eat outside. They love to eat outside and are usually more open to trying new things when they are eating at a picnic table or on a blanket. Pack up some raw veggies like sweet peppers and cucumbers and have a snack at the park!
9) Make a deal. As in "Try the asparagus and we'll go to the park." Just don't use other (more tasty) food as a reward. You don't want it to seem like the ice cream is better than the asparagus (even if it really is).
10) When all else fails, sneak it in. Grate carrots or puree squash, peas, or zucchini and add it into spaghetti sauce or soups. They won't notice. You can also sneak grated veggies into most muffin mixes without altering the taste.
These are my favorite tricks and tips. What are some things you do to get your kids to eat more vegetables?
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.