We all know that vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. But often the vegetable selections that our kids would prefer consist of french fries, tater tots, or mac ‘n’ cheese. Yeah, I know that mac ‘n cheese isn’t really a vegetable, but it is an often requested, preferred main course or side dish, and there are better alternatives. A preference for fried potatoes and macaroni reinforce the fact that vegetables may not be at the top of our kids’ list for meal options. However, there are ways that we can introduce, re-introduce, or add vegetables to our kids’ diets.
Taking your children to the grocery store can make them feel like they are part of the meal planning process. Letting them help to pick out healthy food choices, fresh fruits and vegetables included, allows them to have more of a “say” in what they are eating. They may just be more interested in eating the meal, too.
Have kids help prepare vegetables for meals, especially the stuff that they picked out while shopping. For younger children, this may be as simple as tearing lettuce or greens for a salad or recipe. Older kids may be taught kitchen skills like stirring a pot or chopping veggies. When they participate in preparing the meal, kids may be open to trying it, too.
Try Different Recipes
You may like broccoli sautéed in olive oil with a bit of garlic, or boiled with a bit of spice. If you insist on broccoli, and that’s not your kid’s favorite, try other options, such as a sprinkle of cheddar or parmesan cheese. Even a dab of a cheese sauce can keep things healthy and make it more appetizing to children. Better yet, try out a variety of other vegetables, as well. Parents may find that they have a new favorite, too.
Sneak It In
There are other ways to add veggies in to your child’s diet. A smoothie with fruit can have greens, carrots, or other vegetables blended in. Cauliflower, squash, or other vegetables may be steamed and pureed and added to other dishes. A casserole of any type begs for the grater to be gotten out to add a bit of veggie magic. Cutting a cucumber lengthwise into straws, or other veggies into different shapes, can make them seem less like vegetables, too.
While changing eating habits, rethinking attitudes toward vegetables, and introducing new foods may be better ways to approach adding vegetables to your kid’s diet, especially in the long run, “sneaking” them in may be a way to introduce them as well. Adding vegetables to tried and true recipes can give them a healthy boost, too. However you approach it, try to engage your children and have fun while exploring all that these healthy foods have to offer.
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