Getting kids to eat their vegetables can be a challenge. Even adventurous young eaters can struggle to like new foods, so introducing vegetables beyond the standard baby carrots or green peas may not yield a fantastic response. Try a few of these kid-friendly ideas to get more – and different – vegetables in the mix.
A Dip Makes Everything Better
Whether it’s ketchup, ranch dressing or some other concoction, kids gravitate toward dips. A great-tasting dip can make even strange new vegetables worth a try, so when you introduce a new veggie, or when you’re simply trying to get more fresh and healthy stuff into their tummies, serve it all up with an appetizing dip.
Don’t introduce new vegetables and a new dip at the same time. Go with a dip you know your kids enjoy, so they have a familiar food to try alongside the unfamiliar vegetable.
Break Out of Americana
There’s a whole world of fresh vegetables waiting out there, and you can miss them if you stick to what you were served as a child. Do you have great memories of overcooked spinach and boiled Brussels sprouts? If that’s the only idea you have for what kind of vegetables you can serve, branch out into a whole new world of vegetable options. Snap peas, snow peas, jicama, bok choy and more are available at any major supermarkets. And, these options (as well as many others) are often appealing to kids. Snap peas and snow peas have a sweeter taste. Jicama is very mild and works great with dips. Bok choy has a pleasing crunch and works well in a salad or slaw, or as a “boat” to hold egg salad, tuna salad, hummus, or anything else you care to fill it with.
Speaking of Boats…
You don’t have to be a gourmet cook or great with garnishes to come up with some fun-to-eat vegetable dishes. Think of fresh, raw vegetables as vessels to be filled. When you serve a cucumber slice topped with tasty cream cheese dip, or a slice of jicama or celery smeared with peanut butter or almond butter, or a bell pepper boat filled with couscous salad or tuna, you take the attention off the vegetable. Use veggies as a part of the meal, incorporated with a food that your kids already love, and they’ll adapt more readily to what is new, unfamiliar or just not as well-liked.
Shapes and Shish-Ka-Bobs
Many vegetables lend themselves to a little creativity in terms of presentation. You can use a sharp paring knife, or even a cookie cutter, to create basic shapes out of celery, sweet peppers, mushrooms, eggplant and more. Stack a few on a toothpick and you’ve got a mini shish-ka-bob that is fun for kids to take apart and eat. Serve with a dip, or add some cheese cubes to the mix for a little variety.
Remember to keep trying new vegetables, even if your kids reject them several times. It takes taste buds – especially sensitive ones such as children have – time to adapt to new foods, and it takes time for the unfamiliar to become familiar. Present vegetables in small portions and make them part of meals and snacks on a regular basis. If you’re consistently offering vegetables, they will become a familiar and welcome part of your child’s diet.