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.
Natalie Rose

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.
Bobbi Crapser

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!
Diana Molavi

Veggies first: We serve veggies as a first course when everyone is hungriest.
Cindy Rowland

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.
Heather Bella

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.

Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower Poppers

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 30 min(s)
  • Servings: 4

Your kids will wrestle you for the last bite of these veggie poppers.

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Toss them with the olive oil, chili powder, cumin and salt.
  3. Roast them on a baking sheet for 20-30 minutes until the florets are browned and soft, tossing once.

You Might Also Like

  • http://www.nutritioulicious.com Jessica @ Nutritioulicious

    Great ideas for encouraging children to eat their veggies. Especially love the idea of rolling the dice, and of course roasting is a fabulous way to up the flavor of any vegetable. Another tip I would give parents is to cook with their children. They’ll be more inclined to eat what they make!

  • http://www.todayiatearainbow.com Kia

    I love this list of ideas!!! I would also add that it’s important for parents to keep things light and fun whenever possible because stress, frustration, anger and disappointment should not be invited to the table! If you child refuses to eat their peas at dinner…try again another day…much better for them to have a happy bite then a forced one that makes them upset. I remember being forced to eat asparagus…it took me 26 years to give it another chance :)

  • Sara

    My daughter, 3 yrs, actually loves vegetables; however, she also loves to challenge and contest things so she usually says she doesn’t like whatever veggie is on her plate. I respond with of course you do. You love red peppers. Her usually response is “I do?”, takes a bite, and then says “I do! That’s really good!”

  • Sara

    The other thing we do, since she loves to negotiate, is make a deal after she says she’s done eating. You can have X if you eat Y bites. Usually it’s a very small dessert, like 5 pieces of candy corn, but it works like a charm.

    I like the dice idea to make this more fun, but I’d have to live with it if she rolled a 1 :)

    • Aviva Goldfarb

      Thank you for adding those wonderful tips, Jessica, Kia and Sara!