Almost every kid has things that they don’t like to eat, or goes through phases when they decide they’re no longer eating something. It’s a natural part of development for children to express their independence through food choices. But it does seem like vegetables get more than their fair share of rejection during this process, and there are some things you can do to encourage your kids to keep an open mind toward vegetables. In a recent survey 75 percent of parents told Allrecipes.com that one of the benefits of cooking together as a family is that it provided a way to introduce new foods to their kids.
Focus on the positive:
- Involve your kids in the planning. Go through the fridge and pantry and decide together which veggies and fruits that should be added to the grocery list for lunches, snacks and dinners.
- If your kids join you at the grocery store, go ahead and get two carts one for you, one for them. You can load your cart with ingredients for meals at home, while your children can shop for items for their school lunches and snacks.
- As you go thought the produce section look for new and unusual vegetables to try. Jicama, tomatillos, radicchio, bok choy, dandelions, and many more foods sound unusual and can make keeping an open mind fun! When you get home you can search together for a recipe to make with your new find.
- When preparing vegetables think of different ways they can be prepared or served. Try veggies raw, steamed, pureed and added to another dish or roasted on the grill. Why not serve the same vegetable two different ways at dinner? Serve your choice and your kids’ choice and have everyone vote for their favorite!
- Salads are a great way for kids to use their imaginations as well as learn how to combine textures and flavors. It’s also an easy way to get your kids involved in food prep.
- Play guessing games with your kids to build familiarity. Blindfold your child and have them touch, smell and taste different fruits and veggies and try to guess what each is. Then have your children blindfold the adults in the family so you can take a turn.
- Be patient and keep trying. Sometimes it will take several attempts before your child is comfortable trying a new food. Keep offering and putting new foods on their plate, and keep encouraging them to just have a bite of each.
Don’t be negative:
- Don’t try to encourage healthful foods by restricting favorites. Making some foods taboo will only focus your child’s attention on what they’re not getting.
Be a role model:
- Make sure that you’re trying new things too. And talk to your children about times you’ve had reservations, or when you learned you liked something you thought you wouldn’t like.