Start allowing them to try vegetables and fruits before they have the ability to tell you “No”! It may be a little late for this, but if you have any new little’s in your future, you can start at the beginning with them! Of course follow pediatrician guidelines for introducing foods but once you get past that point, load them up with every fruit and veggie you can get into them! Let them experience a multitude of vegetables of varying textures, NOT just the ones you like, or think they will like. My kids loved steamed parsnips, beets, kale steamed and smashed into potatoes, all of them. I am proud to say I have almost no issue getting my kids to eat their fruits and vegetables now! My daughter requested green beans for breakfast from her grandparents when she was 3. When they got a bit older and could chew they loved going to the garden and munching fresh rutabaga, snap peas and tomatoes. If they are familiar with many fruits and vegetables from the beginning, are used to seeing them appear on their dinner plate every day and see everyone else enjoying them they will be more likely to enjoy them as well!
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Link to the MSNBC News article: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/45657989/ns/today-today_health/t/getting-kids-eat-veggies-can-be-sticky-business/#.TwyjoDWXQ2h) showed that for preschoolers, offering a sticker reward worked better than positive praise to get the kids to eat and eventually enjoy their veggies! They suggest doing this for about a 10 day span. Worth a shot! Great article, I suggest you try it!
Practice what you preach!
We all know someone…or maybe we are that someone…that says “Ew”! in front of their children when faced with certain foods. This gives them permission to balk at foods also before at least giving them a try. Keep your reactions to yourself. If I dislike a food I have tried and genuinely don’t enjoy – for me, this list is very, very short, fortunately/unfortunately – I keep it to myself. I just choose to not take it, or in a way that is obvious, set it to the side. Is still prepare these foods for the kids if they enjoy them and they are nutritious and keep my opinion on the matter to myself. I also always had a rule for my kids that they have to at least try something before they can form an opinion on it. I bring up other foods that don’t look so great but they love the taste of as an example.
Fill them in about the benefits of the foods they are eating! “Those sweet potatoes have a ton of vitamin E & C! They can help your eyesight stay strong and help your cells fight off flu and cold bugs like super hero’s”! Arm yourself with information about the vitamins and minerals many fruits and vegetables have and the benefits of those, get your kids excited to be able to make healthy choices for themselves!
Make it taste good!
We have all probably had some nasty vegetables at some point growing up. I remember canned green peas and Brussels sprouts cooked until they were grey. I would say for younger kids, just make them soft enough to eat safely but just serve them straight up. They don’t have a taste for salty/sweet yet so if you can get them to enjoy them as is they will LOVE them with some clarified butter or parmesan later on! For older kids, try roasting vegetables then adding some parmesan. This does amazing things for almost every vegetable: it brings out the sweet nutty quality most vegetables have when cooked this way. Keep them al dente and not mushy, I find most people prefer the flavor that way.
Hey, it’s not hurting them! If you have someone who is reluctant to eat their vegetables, even using all of these other tips, you may have to resort to this. Most of my recipes have a ton of vegetables in them and I get people who don’t like vegetables, or onions, or mushrooms, etc. to eat it and love it. When I let them know the dish had their despised vegetable in it they don’t even realize it! Chop it very small, for things like onions and mushrooms, cook them well and they blend in. There are some great books about sneaky ways to hide vegetables and fruits in your kids’ favorite meals (sneaking cauliflower into their mac and cheese, squash into a gratin or sauce, pureed spinach into spaghetti sauce, avocado puree in a chocolate mousse, etc.) Many vegetables are naturally sweet and add a great flavor to sauces or casseroles and you can’t tell they’re in there. I don’t have to sneak it in, but I add applesauce, pureed pumpkin, mashed bananas and plum puree to many of my baked goods. They keep them moist and add great flavor, along with health benefits!
I hope this has given you a few tips to get your family to love fruits and vegetables. I have some great recipes on my site that are FULL of vegetables and fruit and I will continue to bring more to your table! Enjoy!
Have a good tip that works for you to get your kids to eat their veggies? Please share!
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