Getting Your Kids to Eat Vegetables

Sharon Palmer

As a dietitian and mom (those are my two sons pictured above, learning how to cook with mom when they were young) I know just how hard it can be to get your young children to eat their veggies! Yet, it’s one of the most important things you can do for their health and wellbeing. Eating plenty of vegetables means children reap the rewards of oodles of nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals with antioxidant activity. Which explains why vegetable consumption can help protect against obesity and chronic diseases later in life.

We all know how important it is to get your kids to eat their vegetables. Yet, studies show that about 27% of children between the ages of 1 and 3 years do not eat a single, discrete serving of vegetables on any given day. And of those who do get in a serving of veggies, it’s most often in the form of French fries. Even when young children do eat vegetables, there is a clear lack of variety, which deprives kids of experiencing the rainbow of colors, diverse textures, intriguing aromas, and vibrant tastes of a whole world of veggies. Now, that’s cause for concern. So, let’s do something about it!

How can you get children to eat more vegetables? Check out my best tips:

5 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat their Veggies 

Kids love to play with their veggies—offer a nutritious dip, such as this pretty pink hummus.

1. Make Vegetables Interactive. Kids love to dip, dunk, and play with their vegetables. So, serve fresh cut up vegetables, such as broccoli, snow peas, and carrot sticks with a healthy dip, such as hummus or nut butter. Check out my recipe for pretty pink Beet White Bean Hummus for starters. You can also look for veggie-rich snack foods to dip into that hummus.

Make small veggie pot pies to combine the appeal of mashed potatoes with vegetables.

2. Pair Vegetables with Kid-Friendly Foods. Studies show that when vegetables are paired with children’s favorite foods, such as potatoes or rice, they consume more of them. So, try to include some roasted cauliflower or healthy veggies along with those potato puffs, and shredded carrots stirred into their rice bowl.

This Vegetable Stone Soup features a medley of vegetables to pique the interest of kids’ palates.

3. Add Veggies to Favorite Dishes. Take advantage of kids’ all time favorites, such as spaghetti and soup, and pile on the veggies. Sauté onions and zucchini in pasta sauce, and add an interesting profile of new veggies to soups, such as broccoli and chard.

This Green Pistachio Smoothie packs in the veggies. 

4. Sneak Them In. Don’t feel guilty about sneaking in veggies here and there. Studies show this strategy really works! Blend fresh greens (blueberries will cover up the green color) into smoothies; add shredded zucchini to muffins, pancakes, and breads; and puree squash into creamy soups.

Take your kids to a local farmers market to have them get more exposed to a rainbow of veggies.

5. Expose Kids to Vegetables. Studies show that it takes multiple exposures of vegetables at mealtime to get kids more familiar with them. So, don’t give up! Put a few snow peas at the side of their plate, place a bowl of roasted cauliflower on the dinner table, and pack raw veggies in their lunch box. Even if they don’t eat them the first time, eventually they will become more familiar and more apt to try them.

Check out these three kid-friendly, plant-powered recipes:

Classic Tomato Soup
Spicy Lentil Tacos
Vegan Ranch Dressing

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