I never gave many thoughts on how to get my kids to eat more vegetables. That was until my daughter came along. It’s hard to believe my two kids are related sometimes. My son is an absolute delight to cook for. He pretty much eats everything, loves to try new things. My daughter is more tricky. It’s always too green, too red, too yellow … shame there are not more pink vegetables.
I won’t lie, we have bad days and good days. The logic and unpredictability of children can be bewildering sometimes so I generally try to average out food balance over a week.
Here are a few tricks I have learned along the way on how to get kids to eat more vegetables.
- Get them cooking – when children get involved in cooking they tend to want to eat what they have made. It can be as easy as making a salad or having children adding vegetables to a pan. At home we make our own pizzas and my kids love decorating them. I usually lay a few ingredients on the table and let them get on with it. Combinations can get quite interesting.
- Eat together – make dinner a family time to enjoy when everyone eats together. This can be challenging to do everyday especially if one or both of you has to commute from work but do try it at least at the week end.
- Don’t be picky – children learn a lot by example. If you start fussing over food they will too!
- Grow your own vegetables – gardening is very exciting for little hands. It gets messy, water is involved .. what’s not to like! Seeing plants and vegetables grow will certainly prick their curiosity and make them want to try new things.
- Develop their tastebuds early on – introduce them early to different tastes by weaning them on a wide range of vegetables (check what is age-appropriate). Annabel Karmel’s books gave me some great and unusual ideas. My son used to relish her avocado/ banana puree.
- Hide the vegetables – soups have been a lifesaver with my daughter. It’s a great way to have a healthy dinner (or lunch) packed with vegetables. In the Winter we live by New Covent Garden Soup cookbooks which have plenty of fantastic recipes. Try also cooking vegetarian fritters, pancakes, pizzas, lasagnes, quiches, pastas, chillis. My kids’ favourite is stir fry. They love the sauce, vegetable and pasta blend plus they get to use chopsticks!
- Turn their favourite dishes vegetarian – whatever the flavour of the month is, try to find a vegetarian alternative.
- Have to try – there is a rule in our house. “You cannot say you do not like it if you have not tried it.” Kids can be resistant towards new food and will sometimes need to try something several times before deciding they like it.
- Be patient – don’t make it a power struggle but don’t offer alternatives either.
- Be creative – presentation is everything. This is certainly true with food. Create scenery, animal faces etc … It will encourage children to play with the food. Add some dips for the raw vegetables. Kids also love anything presented on a skewer!
Do you have any tips to help children eat more vegetables? Share them with us.
Here are some recipes from The Flexitarian kitchen which have been tried and tested on kids: