Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Healthy Eating and Children: Fun Ways to Encourage Kids to Eat Their Vegetables

Children can be notoriously fussy and picky when it comes to cleaning off the greens from their plates. Sadly, more often than not, vegetables and kids don’t really get along well with each other. However, you, as a parent, don’t have to let this pickiness deter you. Instead, you can be a little sneaky, a tad innovative and make sure that your child learns to eat and love veggies.

Here are some ways to encourage healthy eating in children:

1. Add Vegetables to Kiddie Favorites 

One of the easiest ways to ‘sneak’ in veggies is by adding them to favorite foods. Spaghetti can easily have sauce made with grated carrots and beets along with the meat. Broccoli can be mashed and mixed with potatoes for croquettes. Spinach can be blended and mixed with some cheese and macaroni for an ‘alien-green’ Mac and Cheese.

2. Take Kids Vegetable Shopping 

Want kids to know their veggies and take to them naturally? Let them accompany you when you head to the farmer’s market or the store to pick up the week’s supply of veggies. Let them see, touch, smell the different vegetables and chances are they’d be more willing to try them out once they come home.

3. Let Them Pick Their Own Veggies, One Day of the Week 

Kids love responsibility and choice. So, give them both and let them pick a vegetable of their choice for dinner once a week. However, lay down the condition that it can’t be the same vegetable for two consecutive weeks. So, you can’t have potatoes this week and next. Make it interesting, fun and exciting. Look up recipes for their chosen vegetable and odds are you’ll have them eating a variety of vegetables at the end of the month.

4. Add Color to their Plates 

Children enjoy colorful meals. Yes, that is why processed foods’ manufacturers add all those artificial colorings into kids’ snacks. You can beat them and still give your kids a colorful meal by reaching for some vibrant vegetables. Green, red and yellow peppers can be sliced finely and tossed in mayo dressing with some raisins and nuts for a yummy and healthy salad. Use cookie cutters to shape grated carrots, blanched spinach and sautéed snowy white cauliflower into a fun plate filled with health and yumminess.

5. Read About Healthy Eating and Vegetables

Make eating vegetables a fun and interesting experience by reading up about them and swapping fun facts at the dinner table. Books and websites offer tons of information for various age groups. Spend some time every evening reading up together about the veggie you would be eating.  Websites, like, Nourish Interactive and books, like Nutrition Fun with Brocc and Roll by Connie Liakos Evers are great starting points for reading up about vegetables and healthy eating.

How do YOU make eating vegetables fun and interesting for your kids? 
Photo Credit: Abigail Batchelder