Since becoming a parent, vegetables have been the bane of my existence. Personally, I love them, and I’ve found lots of great ways to cook them so that the 18-and-up members of my blended family all love them, too.
My four and seven-year-olds, however, are another story. They hate vegetables. They’ve always hated vegetables, no matter how I’ve cooked them. And well-meaning advice from friends, doctors, magazines and websites hasn’t made my plight any easier.
“My Hunterton has always loved vegetables,” I remember one mom telling me breezily at a playgroup meeting, after I had plaintively asked for her advice on how to get my then-two-year-old daughter to try broccoli. “I’m sure I don’t know what to tell you. Hunterton begs for broccoli every night. And peas. And kale.” Not surprisingly, three-year-old Hunterton also spoke Mandarin. And he was a chess prodigy. And he had already been admitted to Harvard. Or so his mom would have me believe…
“Keep giving them vegetables every night,” a pediatrician advised shortly after that. “Eventually, they’ll learn to like them.” That was four years ago. I’M STILL WAITING.
Try these kid-friendly recipes and you can’t go wrong! a parenting magazine crowed a few months later. Eagerly, I scanned the recipe titles. Spinach Custard with Tomatoes? Chilled Pea Soup? Mashed Carrots Infused with Loganberry Jam? I stifled a dry heave. Whose kids were eating this stuff, and how much were they paying them to do it?
Today, seven years into the small-child parenting game, I’ve learned a thing or two about kids and vegetables.
- First of all, don’t let anyone lay a guilt trip on you if your kids don’t like them. That’s normal, and don’t let the braggy moms out there convince you otherwise.
- Second, if the recipe doesn’t look appetizing to you, it’s a safe bet your kids won’t like it either—I don’t care how many five star reviews it has received.
- And third, it does get better! Every year, my kids have agreed to eat a little more, and while we still have a ways to go, I’ve definitely made some major inroads with them. I also have to remind myself that when I married and inherited eight and ten-year-old stepdaughters, they were the very same way. I kept plugging away with the vegetable recipes, though, and today I’m proud to say that at 18 and 20, they both love vegetables.
Of course, documenting my attempts to turn my little ones into vegetable lovers makes it slightly more enjoyable—so I’ve begun sharing the recipes that are working on my blog. Here are a few of my biggest recent successes:
- Fish Tacos: My kids ate cabbage and didn’t even know it! Heh.
- Zucchini Chips: A new family favorite!
- Peach Carrot Bread: Perfect for breakfast, after school snacks, and the lunchbox!
- Brown Butter Cauliflower Mash: Better than mashed potatoes! Leave off the butter and use lowfat sour cream and you’ve got a very healthy side.
I’ve also begun steaming bags of mixed vegetables in the microwave, pureeing them and adding the puree to spaghetti sauce, casseroles, burgers, meatballs and anything else I can think of. My kids are none the wiser!
Got any tips and tricks of your own to get vegetables into your kids’ mouths? Share them in the comments!
Lindsay Ferrier is an Emmy award-winning journalist who found a new career as a blogger (Suburban Turmoil) after having children. She now has two stepdaughters in college, a 4-year-old boy and seven-year-old girl.