Eat Your Veggies: Tricks that Work for Kids

by Together Counts Partner | April 4, 2013 at 4:23 pm | comments

When you were a kid, you probably sat at the dinner table, facing the impossible plate of brussel sprouts and asparagus. “Eat them,” said Mom, “or you are not leaving this dinner table.” Oh, the memories of learning to eat nutritious foods. Are you facing the same thing with your kids, or do you have a better plan?

We know our kids need to eat their fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but it is such a challenge some days. Children have strong taste buds, and if they do not like that taste or texture, getting them to eat it can be torture for you and for them. Luckily, there are some tricks of the trade for getting children to eat nutritious foods.

Sneak in Purees

Take, for instance, some of the advice of the famed Missy Lapine, the Sneaky Chef, who has an entire website devoted to sneaking fruits and vegetables into your children’s delicious foods. Purees are her magic trick.

If you can puree fruits and vegetables into smooth textures, their flavors can enhance an already delicious dish. Sneak them into sauces and casseroles. The kids will love them and devour them. Try Missy Lapine’s recipe books and Missy Lapine’s blog for inspiration.

You sit smiling while your family enjoys eating nutritiously. If you don’t have the time or patience to puree your fresh fruits and vegetables, try organic baby food. You can sneak a pocket of organic baby food into sauces and casseroles for a full serving of fruits and vegetables.

Diversity, color and choice

In a recent study by Cornell University, kids and adults were asked to rate the foods that they prefer on a plate. The study showed that while adults were OK with three colors on their plates, kids like seven! This is good news, parents, because the most colorful stuff we can give children is stuff made by nature. To present a plate that a kid is attracted to, try to place all of the foods in a circle on the plate, with the main protein source on the bottom and lots of other choices all around it. Kids may try a little of everything, and they may not like all of it, but think of the exposure to great foods that you are giving your child.

Kids love to dip their foods!

Finger-friendly foods that are dippable are favorites among children. Fruits and vegetables that are sliced in long sticks and easy to grasp with little fingers are popular. Try a variety of sticks: carrots, celery, peppers, apples, pears, and cucumber. Give them a vanilla yogurt dip, hummus, natural almond butter, and mustard as their dips.

Top 10 other Healthful Eating Tips:

  1. At breakfast, add berries and bananas to cereal
  2. At dinner, pair coleslaw with crushed pineapple
  3. Try meat dishes that incorporate fruit such as Apricot Chicken or Mango Pork Chops
  4. Make fruit and BBQ kabobs!
  5. Make a sweet potato or carrot puree and then add it to grilled cheese sandwiches AND brownies!  It adds sweetness and less calories
  6. Shred carrots or zucchini into meatloaf, casseroles, quick breads, and muffins
  7. Variety abounds when using veggies as a pizza topping! Get the family involved by making your own
  8. Experiment with Smoothies
  9. Add some pizzazz to sandwiches with apple slices or cucumber
  10. Dessert can be a fruit— Slice a banana lengthwise and top with a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt and chopped nuts

What are you favorite tips to get your kids to eat more nutritious foods?  Share in the comments below!

This post was originally published on the Shannon Miller Lifestyle blog. The mission of Shannon Miller Lifestyle is to inform, educate and inspire women to lead a balanced lifestyle, and is targeted specifically to women with a focus on pregnancy and motherhood.