5 tips to add vegetables to your kids' day
If you are like many of my clients you are a super busy woman, juggling work, home, children and the bulk of the mental load. And in amongst your worries is the concern that your kids aren’t eating enough vegetables. I hear you. My eldest went through what I call his “White Album Phase” where he only ate white pasta, white rice, white bread for six months. He even went off peas and sultanas - honestly, what toddler doesn’t like peas and sultanas?
So what to do when you don’t want to make the dinner table a battleground or be cooking 3 different meals for picky eaters?
Here are my top tips for popping some extra vegetables into your kids day as well as encouraging a positive relationship with food:
Make the afternoon fruit plate, a fruit AND veg plate. To chopped apple, orange, watermelon and strawberries (or whatever fruit you like), add sweet cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, red capsicum and celery sticks.. If, like me, you hate waste, pop anything left into the freezer to add to smoothies the next day.
Put it on a skewer. OMG, kids love food on a stick. Even better if it goes with a dipping sauce. Next time you are having grilled chicken, skewer it with some zucchini and capsicum and serve it with a peanut sauce.
Get them to build their own plate. This works with meals like tacos or burgers. Put several toppings on the table (eg. guacamole, tomato salsa, grated cheese, fresh corn kernels, baby lettuce leaves, beetroot, aioli, cucumber slices, etc) and set some guidelines. Maybe everyone has to choose at least 3 things to top their taco with or try at least one new food? I tell my children that they have to try new foods, they don’t have to like them. BUT, if they don’t like them, then they have to describe why - is it how it feels? How it tastes? This is a playful way to encourage trying new foods and talking calmly about likes and dislikes.
This goes better with that. When I am introducing new foods (often vegetables), we often play a “matching” game. Carrots are nice but how amazing do they taste roasted with honey and thyme? Have you tasted a pickle on its own and then with cheese? Celery and peanut butter? Kids can often have a very black and white approach to certain foods (e.g., I HATE carrots!) and this little experiment encourages them to soften that attitude (e.g.. I don’t like raw carrots but I like them roasted.)
Add vegetables to smoothies. While I encourage being open with kids about the vegetables they are eating, a little bit of veggie smuggling can give you some peace of mind, boost their nutrients and they NEED NEVER KNOW. I always add a handful of spinach to my kids’ cocoa-banana smoothie - the green leaves don’t change the colour of the drink nor can you taste them. To berry or mango smoothies, I will add avocado or frozen cucumber for a pleasing creamy texture and I usually will throw in some chia seeds for their essential fatty acids.
What are your top tips for getting some veg into your little ones without feeling like you’re losing the battle? Share your wisdom in the comments!