A 4-Step Plan for Kids to Eat More Veggies

We all know that vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, but telling kids that carrots are good for their eyes doesn't always make the food go down faster. Fortunately, there are several fun and effective strategies for making veggies more appealing to picky eaters. It's been said that a child will likely develop their eating habits by 10 years old. This makes it even more critical that eating more veggies is not just something they do once in awhile, but that it's a habit.

These four ideas can absolutely pave the way for new habits to be built. After all, the most important thing we can teach our kids is to have healthy habits, and this will set them up for life-long health.

1. Improving Availability

Including more fruits and vegetables in daily meals is an important step if you want to get your kids used to eating healthy. If they can expect vegetables at every meal, it's harder to avoid them. Serving vegetables and salads consistently will help them seem more natural. To make healthy snacks accessible, keep containers of carrot sticks, celery, snow peas and other vegetables handy. This is a good way to get kids to help themselves and build healthy habits. We always have carrots pre-washed and cut, cucumbers sliced, and broccoli chopped into bite size pieces. This makes it easy for kids to reach in the fridge and grab a quick sack without having to prep anything.

2. Going Undercover

If you can't get your kids to eat veggie-based dishes and sides, you can always sneak healthy items into their favorite foods. At breakfast, add sautéed vegetables to scrambled eggs or omelets. It's easy to hide zucchini in a pot of pasta sauce. Spinach and carrots are great in lasagna.

Mashed sweet potatoes, lentils, and black beans can be added saucy dishes, and they work well in vegetarian burgers. Even the pickiest eater won't be able to resist macaroni and cheese spiked with tomatoes and red peppers. Combining veggies with foods they already know and like have a much higher acceptability for kids.

3. Involving Kids

Getting children involved in cooking is a great way to help them see vegetables differently. If kids have the option to choose a vegetable for dinner or help prepare it, they're more likely to enjoy the experience. Starting a backyard garden is another way to get youngsters into vegetables. Planting seeds, watching plants grow and picking vegetables for dinner can get kids excited about veggies. String beans, lettuce, and radishes grow quickly and are rewarding crops. Kids can also be in charge of making their own lunches and deciding what snacks they want to eat! 

4. Making Vegetables Appealing

Let's face it. Steamed spinach makes a bad impression on finicky eaters.

Making vegetables look good is the most important part of the battle. It's hard to get kids to try foods that don't look tasty. Decorating broccoli florets with star-shaped cheese slices or fruit can help make this unpopular vegetable more appealing. Sometimes, the way vegetables are cut can have a big effect. Carrots and cucumbers can become cute flowers if you make a few V-shaped cuts before they're sliced.

This four-pronged strategy is sure to get your kids loading up their forks with piles of healthy vegetables. You can worry about getting them interested in Brussels sprouts and Swiss chard later.

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