We all know by now that we should be eating at least five servings of vegetables each day. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Sometimes it is just not easy to get kids to eat more vegetables.
Adults and children alike are constantly tempted to fill up on convenience and junk food. If your family is anything like mine, they’d much rather fill up on a bag of chips or a bowl of rice or pasta instead of trying an apple or a plate of steamed broccoli. As parents we have to get creative to get our kids to eat more vegetables.
Here are a few ideas to “sneak” some extra vegetables in your family’s diet.
Get Kids To Eat More Vegetables At Breakfast
Yes, you heard me right! Skip the sugary cereals and rather start the day with a veggie packed breakfast smoothie.
It's as simple as throwing a bunch of ingredients in a blender. You may also want to add a scoop of protein powder for good measure. For rushed mornings, kids can sip on the way to school.
To make it even more appealing to kids you can prepare your smoothie the night before, put it in the freezer and in the morning blend it into an "ice-cream". Your kids won't believe that you're letting them have ice-cream for breakfast!
Avoid using too many fruits in breakfast smoothies as it can affect their blood-sugar levels and affect learning and behaviour.
My green smoothie remains a favourite in our household and is a great way to get kids to eat more vegetables without knowing it. You can find my recipe HERE.
Or why not try toasted seed bread with sliced avocado and a couple of sneaky leaves added?
Replace Regular Chips With Vegetable Chips
I'm not suggesting you give your kids chips every day, but for special occasions vegetable chips are a good alternative to potato chips. They're a great way to get kids to eat extra vegetables.
They're also very easy to make at home! Our favourite is sweet potato chips.
Add Vegetables To Your Family's Sandwiches
Sandwiches are a great way to get kids to eat more vegetables. Make a salad sandwich and fill it with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and anything else they will eat.
You can even make a sub style vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with mayonnaise and cheese on bread.
Get Kids to Eat More Vegetables With A Salad Bar
Have a salad bar at dinner. Set out a variety of chopped vegetables, some cheese and croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing along with the lettuce and let everybody create their own perfect salad.
Many of our food battles with our children stem from them wanting to exert some control. This is an excellent way to give them the control they crave while still getting them to eat more vegetables.
Try Juicing Vegetables
Let them drink their vegetables. This is a great opportunity to get creative and get your children's input.
I don't buy conventional fruit juices, however, we do occasionally make our own. Lexi's favourite winter combination was orange, carrot and ginger made from ingredients straight out of our garden.
You could start “family cocktail hour” by pouring everybody a glass of his or her favorite juice over ice. Add some straws, cocktail umbrellas and sit together to talk about how everybody’s day went. If you're anything like us you'll throw in a couple of very corny vegetables jokes!
I've put together some of our favourite vegetable jokes that you can download.
Get Kids to Eat More Vegetables At Snack Time
Offer vegetables as snacks. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with dip / hummus / cream cheese.
And of course there’s ants on a log. Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins on it. Lexi's favourite variation of ants on a log is celery with cream cheese and pomegranate arils.
Try New Vegetables
Pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. With a little luck their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to trying something new. You could try artichokes, plantains, okra or anything else you can find at your vegetable shop.
Lexi and I had a competition to see who could find the most exotic vegetable. Week after week she tried new vegetables without once complaining.
Soups & Stews
Okay, not everyone enjoys eating soups and stews in summer like we do, but this is a great trick for cooler weather.
It's easy to get kids to eat more vegetables if they're pureed in soups (particularly picky kids).
Or add a puree to a stew.
Start "My Veggie Day"
Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they tried every vegetable the week before, otherwise they loose a turn and Mom gets to pick. This is a great way to get kids to eat more vegetables without complaining.
Incorporate a few of these ideas and you will have everyone in your family eating more vegetables in no time.
One last tip!
Now that everyone in the family has gotten a taste for it, make sure you always have plenty of fresh vegetables ready and available to snack on.