How to get Kids to Eat Veg
Some kids – you know the ones – will happily munch through every veg you can put in front of them while others will turn their nose up at a carrot.
“Where did I go wrong?” the rest of us parents wail.
The good news is that your child’s disgust at vegetables is not going to last forever and that there is plenty you can do to help them along the way.
Sometimes it’s the taste and sometimes it’s the colour, or the texture, and sometimes it’s just that the food is simply different.
Start as you mean to continue
If you have a baby at home, start giving them vegetables when they start to eat and don’t stop. Good first veg includes mashed squash, sweet potato, carrots, peas, avocado. Later a little strong flavoured veg can be added such as broccoli or cabbage. This allows your baby to get used to these flavours early.
Veg as part of life – grow it, shop for it, cook it
Families who grow, shop for, or cook, vegetables together tend to find their kids eat more of them. Start off with something simple, like growing a bit of cress to add to a sandwich. Maybe plant some seed potatoes, some rhubarb and then move on to lettuce, beans and peas in a pot.
Cooking carrot muffins or making a bowl of soup together teaches great life skills and few kids will resist the taste of the food they slaved over!
Everyone try something new
Go shopping together and pick out something that none of you has ever tried. The market is a great place to go, as you will get enthusiastic tips and hints from growers who love veg. How about some yellow carrots or tiny white mushrooms or some pumpkins to roast whole and slather with butter?
Vary how you serve veg
Don’t just cook your frozen peas and carrots! Buy peas in the pod and have fun shelling and eating. Try raw turnip and carrot strips before dinner. Serve cherry tomatoes as a snack, have cold raw broccoli florets in a salad, mashed avocado on toast, bake Brussel sprouts with herb butter, serve asparagus or artichoke with a dip or cook cauliflower in a cheesy sauce. Mash sweet potatoes or parsnips instead of potatoes and dice mushrooms instead of mince to make an excellent vegetarian bolognaise. Add spinach leaves to a savoury loaf of bread, make courgette and carrot muffins, try a courgette cake or beetroot chocolate cake. Try sprouted seeds, or bean shoots, try stuffed olives, seaweed, or kale chips, or fries made from root vegetables.
Try different flavours
Some of us aren’t too keen on the strong flavours of broccoli and kale, but the mild aniseed flavour of fennel is ok and the sweetness of fresh peas and the tangy taste of onion soup, the pinkness of pasta made with grated beetroot, or the fun of eating corn on the cob with black pepper and butter will be more appealing and your kids may have fun trying them.
Eat as a family
Eating a family dinner has great social and emotional benefits for your family, when you can share the events of your day, but it also serves as a great time to teach good eating habits. Show your kids that you eat a healthy balanced diet and they will remember it for life.
Lead by example
Don’t forget to load the veg on your own plate. If you think its yummy, your child might get curious about why it tastes so good and try it out.
The one taste rule
Lots of homes have a one taste rule: even if you don’t like it, eat one bite and you can leave the rest. This helps your child accept, and hopefully come to love, the vegetables on their plate.
Hide the vegetables
If all else fails, hide it – many a vegetable is consumed blended into a tomato sauce! This is a great route to go at the start to get those vegetables in – just be careful not to overdo it or you will end up with a strong-tasting brown and lumpy tomato sauce and your kids will be on to you!
Researchers say it takes 12 attempts to get kids to like something, so if they turn their noses up, don’t be disheartened. Keep trying with different veg and in a short time, they will be eating everything!