Thursday, July 26, 2012

Veggie Heros

When I see a kiddo chomping happily on a carrot or another veggie, I automatically think, whoa. 
Your mother is a hero. 
Getting kids to choose a carrot over a candy bar is impressive. Actually, more like miraculous. Kids are all so very different and some just like veggies more than others. If your little one is not a huge fan of veggies, don't give up!

Here are some tips to make your kids and yourself a veggie hero:

1. Keep them around.
Veggies get quite the bad rap. Whether they pick it up on TV shows or from an older sibling, most kids seem ingrained with the thought that veggies are gross--and that makes it tough. Keep vegetables around and show your kids you snack on them too! 

One tip is to cut up the veggies right when you buy them. This makes them easily accessible. Kids complaining they're hungry? Pre-cut veggies means you can open up the fridge and grab something easily. You could also have out the veggies for the kids to munch on while you finish up dinner, or while they're telling you about their day. Make veggies a daily part of every day--not just the occasional dinner guest.

2. Dip it!
Kids are very hands on. Dipping veggies is a fun way to eat vegetables. Cut the veggies small enough so they're not overwhelming and get some dips out. Give your children choices for dips as well. Kids love choices. Try ranch, barbecue, soy sauce, honey, humus, sour cream, plain yogurt--anything your kids love! What are some other things you dip in?
3. Sneak it in!
You should always keep veggies around for snacking--but to get in a little extra nutrition, don't be afraid to sneak it in!

Chop things really small and throw it into eggs, soups, casseroles, pizza, pasta, etc. Spinach is a good veggie you can chop really small and doesn't have an overwhelming veggie taste.

The Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious are two cookbooks that have some great ideas.

I just ran to our local library and checked them out and wow! Lots of healthy options without having to do the veggie fight. Both books give the idea of making veggie purees--and then adding those into almost any recipe!  
And we're talking chicken nuggets, spaghetti, and tuna sandwiches--very kid-friendly foods.

From what I gathered from these, carrot, butternut squash, and red pepper purees go well into any red sauce--spaghetti, lasagna, sloppy joes, and chilli. Cauliflower puree works well in a white sauce--things like mac and cheese, eggs, mashed potatoes, tuna salad.
They even have things with purees from sweet potatoes, avocados, beets, brocoli, peas, zucchini, and white beans. Seriously, check them out at the library or check out their sites here and here.

4. Give them choices.
Kids love to make their own choices. Have lots of different options--and lots of color. One idea is to cut up lots of veggies and put them in a ice tray or muffin tin and let the kids go at it. Don't get on the kids for not eating the entire tray--be really positive about the ones they did choose and the ones they ate!
5. It's all about presentation.
In one of my public health classes, we talked about how toddlers picked a rock covered in stickers for breakfast over a banana in a little study done by NBC News. Not kidding. Watch that funny clip here.
Solution? Make them look more exciting! Here are some ideas:

Put veggies in a cute bucket with their favorite stickers!

6. Get them involved.
Kids love to be involved. Let them help you prepare vegetables. And give them a say in what you prepare for the night. Ownership can do greats things. 

And Moms, don't get discouraged--you are doing great! Getting your kids to enjoy veggies or even to eat them can be quite the feat. Remember to be consistent. Have vegetables often in your meals--sneak it in, on the side, in a drink, etc. The more your kids are around veggies and seeing you eat them, the more likely they are to gobble them up.

What are some ways you've been successful in getting your kids to eat vegetables?

You got it moms! Go fight win! 

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