The dreaded battle: getting veggies in your kids. At least, that’s what I hear. My son loves vegetables, so I got lucky there. People always ask me how I get him to eat things like Brussels sprouts, radishes & asparagus. However, I babysit usually 1-5 days a week, and some of those kidlets aren’t huge fans of veggies, so I thought I’d share some of my tried and true tricks for getting delicious, nutritious veggies into reluctant kiddos.
Make it colorful
Make it a rainbow of finger food fun with their favorite sauces to dip in. My son & the kids I baby sit love to dip raw veggies like carrots, cucumbers, sugar peas, green beans & peppers in ranch dressing. Swap out old, boring orange carrots for purple, yellow or white carrots, cut up red, yellow, green and orange peppers & hype up how exotic it is. The first time I served purple cauliflower, you would have thought it was chocolate the way the kids gobbled it up! What I usually do is fill one tray with veggies & tell the kids to eat what they like from it but to at least try one of every thing. The tray almost always comes back totally empty!
The “fruit” smoothie
The most sneaky of these methods is a delicious fruit smoothie – that has some carrots, spinach, kale, and sometimes cucumber or peas in it. (Someone gave me a bunch of baby food that had peas in it, it was surprisingly good in a smoothie. Don’t knock it til you try it.) Mask the flavor of the veggies with vanilla yogurt, a squirt of honey, and lots of berries. I use bananas as a base for my smoothies, but you can also use coconut cream or mangoes. My favorite smoothie recipe: two bananas, a cup of spinach, two or three carrots, vanilla yogurt, little squirt of honey, half dozen large strawberries, handful or two of blueberries and a dash of cranberry juice. It’s super delicious and so full of vitamins and I haven’t met a kid yet who doesn’t like it! Tip – blackberries are good for asking vegetable flavor but have lots of seeds, so if your child has texture issues I wouldn’t recommend trying them in a smoothie!
“Fruit” smoothie popsicles.
Similar to above, just make some smoothie mix, freeze into popsicles, and let the kiddos enjoy an all-natural cool treat on a hot summer day!
Roast veggies like carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potatoes with a little butter, salt, pepper, honey and cinnamon. It sweetens them up and most of the kids I babysit ask for seconds and sometimes thirds! You can also make candied yams or candied carrots to add as a veggie side to dinner.
Serve what they like, & serve tiny portions
Every kid I babysit loves mac & cheese, so at dinner time I serve it with three sides of veggies. Everyone gets a small, bite sized portion of veggies as well a small scoop of mac & cheese. In order to get more of the mac, they have to clear all the vegetables off their plate. It’s just three bites & of vegetables I know they will at least tolerate, so this gets a full serving of veggies in their stomach & while encouraging them to try new foods! Using this method I have converted kids to asparagus & even Brussels sprouts lovers & typically, they opt for seconds of everything.
Start them young
I think part of my success with getting my son to eat all the veggies is I started him young – instead of giving him expensive, sweet baby finger foods I gave him peas & cooked carrots. Instead of messy spaghetti, mac & cheese or other starchy foods I gave him cooked potatoes, broccoli & green beans at meals along with fruits & applesauce. Offering a diverse option of foods when they are young can help them grow up enjoying healthier options at meal & snack times!