Veggie Victory: Fun and Creative Ways to Win Over Picky Eaters
We all want our kids to love vegetables, but the reality is, not everyone loves everything. There are some easy ways you can expose your kids to more plants and encourage their acceptance. It's also worth mentioning that it's easy to get stressed out by this but try to remember that if you are mostly eating meals at home, whole foods most of the time, and doing your best - you're doing a great job.
Here are my top favorite ways to increase plant acceptance for yourself or your kiddos.
REMOVE the pressure: Research shows that kids who are pressured to eat foods, ANY foods, not just fruits or veggies, are more likely to become pickier eaters. Just channel your inner Elsa and Let IT Go.
Lead by Example: Kids are more likely to eat vegetables if they see their parents and caregivers enjoying them regularly.
Make it Fun: Create visually appealing, colorful dishes with a variety of veggies. Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes or arrange vegetables into smiley faces.
Get Them Involved: Let your kids help with meal preparation. They're more likely to eat veggies they've had a hand in preparing or snack on the raw veggies in the process.
Bring them to the store: If you can, and want to, lots of stores give kids free fruit while shopping or let them pick out something new they want to try.
Dip It: Serve vegetables with tasty dips like hummus, yogurt-based dressings, or peanut butter. Veggies are not any less nutritious just because they have dressing on them.
Blend Into Smoothies: Sneak leafy greens like spinach or kale into fruit smoothies. The sweetness of the fruits can mask the vegetable flavor.
Try Veggie-Based Snacks: Opt for veggie chips or puffs made from vegetables like sweet potatoes or peas as an alternative to traditional snacks.
Experiment with Cooking Methods: Roasting, grilling, or sautéing vegetables can enhance their flavor and texture. Encourage kids to try veggies cooked in different ways to find their favorites.
Incorporate Veggies into Familiar Dishes: Add finely chopped or pureed vegetables into pasta sauces, soups, or casseroles. This can be a subtle way to increase veggie intake.
Garden Together: If you have access, plant a small vegetable garden and involve your kids in growing their own veggies. They'll be more interested in eating what they've grown.
Be Patient: It may take several attempts for kids to develop a taste for certain vegetables. Keep offering a variety of options without pressure, and be patient as their preferences evolve.
Remember, the goal is to create a positive and enjoyable experience around all foods and not praise any one food group over another. All foods are nourishing, provide nutrients and can be part of a balanced diet. Relax, get creative, have fun, and watch your little ones or yourself embrace the colorful world of vegetables one bite at a time.