Do your kids think most vegetables are scary? Many parents of young children lament that their kids simply refuse to eat vegetables, and some have an unnatural fear of them that can exasperate any concerned mom or dad. I know– I’ve been there.
Below, I share tactics that worked for some parents to get their kids to eat more vegetables. If something worked for your kids but isn’t listed here, please add it in the comments below to inspire other frustrated parents to keep trying.
Roll the dice: When I serve a veggie/fruit they don’t care for, we have the kids roll the dice and they need to eat the number of bites that shows up. They love it because it feels like a game and they’re in control. My oldest now likes asparagus because of this “game”.
Sherry Ann Swanson
Dip it: My daughter (5) will eat vegetables with ranch dip.
No tricks: I started giving them veggies when they were babies and veggies have always been a part of our meals everyday. No tricking involved.
Whatever it takes: We’ve never liked the hidden veggies approach – basically I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make the veggies taste good. Olive oil, salt, butter, Parmesan, cheddar, ketchup, dip, whatever. I think as adults we are guilty of treating veggies like an obligation instead of just enjoying them!
Veggies first: We serve veggies as a first course when everyone is hungriest.
Three bite rule: We have a three-bite rule at our house that applies to everything on their plate. My 7-year-old tries almost everything with ketchup for the first bite. My 10-year-old likes to help in the kitchen, so usually I put him in charge of the dish that I anticipate could be a challenge. That way I know he will eat it and usually it gets his little brother to want it, too.
Nichole Ewert Carbajal
Grow your own: Garden with them. Seriously, kids will eat anything that they plant and harvest themselves. Also, limit other sweets–they can’t taste the sweetness of a carrot if they are used to candy.
Silly faces: Make “plate faces” when serving their dinner. Try it…it is a blast. Broccoli for hair, chicken pieces for mouth, carrots for a nose, etc.
Anne Glicksman Braunstein
Make a list: When my own children, Solomon and Celia, were little, we had a lot of success with a healthy foods chart. Anytime they ate a new vegetable without saying “yuck”, we added it to their growing list with much fanfare, which was reassuring for all of us.
Have a roast: Many parents are amazed that their kids reject steamed vegetables but will eat the very same vegetables when they have been roasted. Roasting vegetables gives them a sweeter flavor because of the caramelization that takes place in the oven at high heat.
When I make these Roasted Cauliflower Poppers, we all practically wrestle each other for the last bites, and many adults and children have told me that they didn’t like cauliflower at all until they tried it this way.
What are your family’s favorite ways to eat vegetables? Please share them in the comments below.