Leafy greens vs. french fries. For adults, the greens are (hopefully!) the clear winner but for children, vegetables are almost always overlooked and sometimes even despised. Many moms will attest there are ways to make kids choose the good stuff, but the reality is that what gets planned and what actually happens usually aren’t the same when it comes to kids. It can be a frustrating, ongoing battle. But fear not, here are some clever ways to get kids to eat their vegetables.
Make a game of it
One of the most brilliant ways to get kids to eat the healthy stuff is to gamify it! Make it a fun experience for them to eat their veggies! For example, Broccoli may look a little boring on its own, but it's probably the easiest to make a game out of. Build an edible house out of graham crackers using colorful frosting to“draw” the door and windows. Then line the property with “little green trees.” Whenever your kids eat some of the broccoli, allow them to enjoy a small piece of the house for dessert.
Create fun shapes
Who can resist a heart-shaped cucumber slice?! Make vegetables just as fun as those dino-shaped chicken nuggets by getting a little creative. All this one takes is either a few cookie cutters or a good eye and decent knife skills. Shape slices of yellow squash into little hearts, cut out a smiley face on pieces of sweet potato...just use your imagination. Who knows, you may really impress yourself and end up posting your vivid vegetable creation on social media. Social brag plus vegetable-eating child? #winning
It’s technically not lying, it’s withholding information. If your kids love mac & cheese, give it to them. But here’s the sneaky mom part: instead of dehydrated processed cheese, buy some fresh cheddar, melt it down, mix in some pureed butternut squash and voilà! You’ve got a thick, creamy, and more nutritious sauce to pour over the macaroni. Genius!
Spaghetti and meatballs is another fan favorite that provides parents with a valuable vegetable hiding opportunity. For example, zucchini is a great replacement binder in meatballs instead of breadcrumbs. The only difference is that your kids will pump their little bodies full of nutrients like potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C.
Or for a sweet treat, add some beets to chocolate cupcakes. The good news is that if they end up with a reddish hue, you can coin them as red velvet... *Insert evil grin here*
Design a vegetable skeleton
Liven up your kids’ plates with edible people made entirely of veggies. Use spinach for hair, carrots for arms and legs, sliced peppers for the body, and cucumber cut outs for eyes. Ok, we admit it’s a little creepy, but it works!
Grow your own
Get the kids involved by letting them create their own garden. Begin by giving them the opportunity to design the space themselves. The excitement of watching their garden develop will naturally encourage them to sample what they worked so hard on. Plus it’s a new opportunity to teach responsibility. Double win!
Little tip: Let’s set your children up for success by letting them choose vegetables that have a high success rate for growing in your region. The last thing we want is for them to end up wallowing over failed crops!
Forget clay. Scatter all kinds of vegetables on a table with some toothpicks and let your kids “build” a vegetable sculpture. The toothpicks are an easy way to keep pieces together, but will require a little extra adult supervision. Make it a regular play date activity and you can bet all of the other moms will love you too!
Be a pizza person
Playing with pre-made dough at home is pretty fun. But making a one-of-kind homemade pizza can be a downright amazing experience! Plus, you get to have control over the ingredients to ensure they are as healthy as possible.. Let your little ones layer on their sauce and cheese, then encourage them to select from assorted vegetable toppings you provide.
Make some dips
This one is especially fun for smaller tots because let's face it...they love to make a mess. Keep it simple by placing things like ketchup, melted cheese, or applesauce in kid-sized bowls and let them go to town dipping their veggies. Some serious cleanup is probably in your future with this one but hey, what else is new?!
Be a copycat
Tell your kids they're the boss for one meal during the week. Put a big bowl of assorted veggies between you and make a game of it. For every vegetable they eat, copy them by selecting the same one. They’ll love being in charge!
Figuring out how to get kids to eat more vegetables just requires some creativity. There is no one-size-fits-all method to it, but once you figure out what works it’ll be smooth sailing from there. Good luck!