Everyone knows that vegetables are good for you. So how can you get your child to eat more of them? Here are some tips for making veggies fun and tasty.
What you need: a positive attitude and a little creativity
Perhaps the most important factor to consider is your own attitude and approach toward healthy eating in general.
For good health, offer at least one dark green and one orange vegetable to your child every day. Encourage your child to try small amounts, but don’t get upset if they refuse it. Eventually, they will try it, so keep reintroducing various foods from time to time. Avoid forcing your child to eat vegetables – or any other food for that matter.
Some tricks of the trade to get your child eating more veggies
- Make veggies fun. For example: broccoli and cauliflower can be presented as “trees”, raw carrots can be made into carrot curls, and cucumber slices can be cut into a flower shape.
- Children are more likely to eat what they have grown or helped prepare. Try these ideas:
- Ask your child to choose their favourite vegetables when you’re shopping.
- Prepare meals together. Younger children can wash, and older ones can chop vegetables for stir-fry dishes and salads.
- Plant a vegetable garden with your child. Or just put a small cherry tomato plant in a pot in a sunny spot in the yard or on a balcony.
- Set out a plate of raw vegetables or a salad of cold, cooked vegetables before the meal – the time when your child is hungriest.
- Keep cut up and washed veggies in the refrigerator for a quick and handy snack. (Keep in mind some veggies can be potential choking hazards for children under 4 years old.)
- Serve raw or lightly steamed vegetables with a yogurt dressing or cheese sauce for dipping.
- Lightly cook vegetables. This preserves taste, bright appearance, and valuable vitamins and minerals.
- Add more veggies to kid – friendly foods. For example:
- Make your own tacos with veggie toppings like shredded lettuce or cabbage, cut up peppers, and tomato
- Make pizza with your child and top the pizza crust and tomato sauce with chopped broccoli , spinach or any other vegetable your child likes
- Add pumpkin, zucchini or shredded carrots when baking muffins
- Add vegetables to other foods that you prepare like sandwiches, soups, stews and casseroles. For example:
- add chopped tomato, chopped celery, cut up peppers or grated carrots to tuna, chicken or pasta salads
- cook frozen mixed vegetables and then add them to potato salad
- tuck in a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice, grated carrot or beet into sandwiches
- add chopped spinach or a handful of frozen vegetables to soups, noodles, spaghetti sauce or lasagna
- add chopped broccoli, extra carrots, peas or green beans to canned or dried lower sodium chicken soup
Tip: Parents need to eat their veggies, too! It is important to set a good example. Remember that your actions will speak louder than words.
© Raising Children Network Limited, reproduced with permission.
Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: Food Safety for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
HealthLink BC: Quick Tips for Adding Vegetables to your Diet
Healthy Canadians: Cooking with Kids
Healthy Canadians: Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide – Vegetables and Fruit
Canadian Produce Marketing Association: Fruits & Veggies - Half Your Plate
Better Together BC: A hands on approach to family, food and fun