Veg Out: Easy Ways to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables
It's an age-old battle: Moms want kids to eat more veggies. Kids want to eat, well, anything else. "Don't give up! Keep offering veggies," says Jeanne Muchnick, mom to two girls and author of "Dinner for Busy Moms." "And don't let them off the hook without trying several bites of something new. Eventually, veggie love will happen." Here's how to up your kiddos' intake of greens until the day comes when your kids beg for broccoli the way they do for a brownie:
Blend 'em. Want your kids to eat veggies without a fuss? Befriend your blender or food processer, says Muchnick. "Sauté veggies, such as Vidalia onions, carrots or zucchini, until soft. Then puree the vegetables so that they are super smooth," she says. Sneak the puree into tomato sauce that you can use to top pasta and store-bought pizza dough. Another option: pureeing red pepper, spinach, or cucumbers and mixing them with yogurt or sour cream to make dips that kids can dunk a carrot, crackers, or rice cakes into.
Hide 'em. It's easy to hide, er, add minced like spinach, squash, broccoli, avocado, zucchini or asparagus to lasagna, scrambled eggs or pasta. "I add shredded or cooked carrots to mac and cheese. The orange color mixes with the cheese and kids don't suspect a thing," says Muchnick, who is also a fan of adding pureed cauliflower to mashed potatoes, as well as carrots and peas to hamburgers and sloppy joes. "I also puree black beans and put it in my meatloaf," she says.
Make it fun. Let kids make their own kabobs: add cherry tomatoes, pineapple chunks or grapes to a stick with chicken. Or experiment with cooked versions of sushi rolls--a california roll has carrot, avocado, and crab--and the kids will get a kick out of working their chopsticks. Above all else, let kids help you cook and assemble their foods--especially ones with lots of veggies. "Kids are more likely to eat what they help make," says Muchnick.
Roll-up Recipe. Getting kids to eat raw vegetables can be a real struggle. Jennifer Carden, chef and author of The Toddler Café came up with this recipe to get your kids interested in lettuce.
Makes 6 servings
- 1 head crispy romaine lettuce hearts, washed and separated
- 1 pound ground chicken, beef or turkey
- 1 carrot minced or grated
- 1 cup broccoli florets, minced
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- Chopped Peanuts or Cashews for sprinkling (optional)
Put sauce ingredients in a bowl and break up lumps with a fork, set aside.
Heat a sauté pan on medium high heat, add meat, let it cook untouched until meat looks like it is cooking underneath and juices start to be released. Add vegetables. Start breaking up meat with a wooden spatula. Continue stirring and breaking up chunks until meat is thoroughly cooked. Drain meat before adding sauce. Give the sauce a stir and add it to the pan. Mix together and cook 2 minutes more, continuing to break up any large chunks of meat.
Serve meat and lettuce leaves together. Have your child put the meat in the leaves and sprinkle with nuts, then eat like a taco.
Tip: Give your child the small inside leaves that will be easier for them to hold and bite.
- Read about making healthy on-the-go meal choices with kids
- Learn the steps to take if your child has a food allergy
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