Your kids will love vegetables if you do this....
What zucchini?? No zucchini here, just a yummy spag bol.
I'm all for hiding vegetables in your children's food if if gets them eating healthy. BUT in doing this, I absolutely can't stress enough how important it is to still put vegetables on your child's plate. Regardless of whether they will end up staying put, be spread all over the table or thrown on the floor. Of course that really sucks for you, but kids need to be exposed to what a healthy meal looks like from the day they begin eating solids. And vegetables are a must each day.
The kids don't need to know they have already eaten five servings over the day that were hidden in every one of their meals. That's the sneaky part of being a parent- we can do that! You just have peace of mind knowing they were in there.
So first thing to remind yourself is that there are probably one million other parents fighting their kids to eat their vegetables at the same time you are, also having pieces of zucchini thrown into their hair.... fun times!
20 simple tips to help the vege hater make peace with their carrots & be as happy as eating chocolate.. (ok maybe not that far?)
- Make it fun. Seems obvious right? Well I am amazed how many parents don't do this. Meals times should be fun and enjoyable. I course I don't mean jumping on the table to dance around your spag bol plate, I mean it's important to make food something that brings children joy, not dread and worry each time they sit down to the table. Which brings me to the second tip..
- Vege chips. I make all my own chips. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchinis and beetroot. I cut them into long thin pieces just like what traditional chips are like. Occasionally I change the shape but my toddler doesn't like that as much. If I keep them long and thin, the kids will finish two bowls- funny how that works.
- Home made pizzas are the most awesome way to sneak on veges and the kids will be the ones popping them on. When we have home made pizzas, I organise it all by having everything cut up and ready in bowls, then displayed on the bench and it's free for all. Slap whatever you want on your pizza. Well it's perfect because I have monitored what can go on. So we offer all our veges from the fresh source- halved cherry tomatoes, sliced capsicum, halved kalamata olives, chunks of pineapple, grated carrot, sliced mushrooms and cheese that we grate ourselves (cheese that's packaged shredded is full of nasty preservatives).
- Eat a rainbow. Provide colours so it looks bright- reds, greens, yellows, purples. Who wants boring brown food everyday, not me!
- Use cute, colourful dinner ware. Build a face. We have Disney frozen and spider man and they love these plates. You can get the plates where you build a face with the food, they look entertaining.
- Let kids help prepare snacks or meals, where safe and possible. If they have made it themselves and seen the process, it's exciting to eat their own creations.
- Try a different way of cooking your veges. If you are always steaming them but the kids don't like your veges, have you tried stir frying in a saucepan with some coconut oil or olive oil. Leave them a little crunchy so they aren't soggy like what steaming can do.
- Our favourite is veges cooked on the BBQ- delicious! The roasted smoky flavour is the best.
- Put veges on (child safe) sticks- now that is fun even for the adults. Corn on cobs then pop a stick in it. Thread veges onto sticks and have vege kebabs. Fantastic on the BBQ.
- Sticks and dip. Cut carrots, asparagus, cucumber, celery and capsicum into small thin strips. Try dipping in hummus, tzatziki or mash an avocado and mix in some lemon juice to stop it going brown, I also like adding cottage cheese to my avocado for extra protein.
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel strips of carrot and zucchini to make noodles or spaghetti.
- Don't be afraid to give them some flavour by covering in butter and good oils like coconut oil, olive oil and macadamia oil. These are the only three oils I recommend. Please don't be worried to use butter- real butter, preferable grass fed. It should only have cream and salt in the ingredients.
- Put veges into dishes where they are not seen purely so the kids begin to get use to their flavours without knowing it. This tip isn't about deceiving the kids. I have found that by making meatballs or quiches and putting finely chopped vegetables or even blended up in the food processor so the kids literally cant see them, really helps. The kids will be eating brussels sprouts, kale, onions, capsicum and not even know it. I'm a big believer that over time you can acquire a taste for something tried over and over again. My hope is one day I can pop some brussels sprouts covered in butter on the side of the kids dish- they will complain they don't like 'those green things', then I'll say they have to try them and then.... boom, what do you know, they love brussels sprouts. Ok, well I will see about that, but it will happen with vegetables not so strong in flavour.
- Fill celery sticks with natural peanut butter (be careful of how much sugar is in yours at home) or cream cheese.
- Vegetable juices. We have bought V8 juice traditional, the kids LOVE it. No added sugar or preservatives. Or if you have a juicer even better.
- Halve a portobello mushroom, zucchini or capsicum and fill them with a mix of something you know your kids love. A mince recipe or even a egg quiche type filling.
- Make a soup- of course your kids have to like soup for this to work, but this is a great way to stack the veges in. If your kids don't like the watery soup, try making a thicker one. Consistency and texture can make all the difference. Also try blending the vegetables if they don't like chunks.
- Fritters are delicious. I have a recipe of my own which I will link in here. I get potatoes, corn, onion, zucchini, carrot and herbs in mine and yes all my kids eat them. Click here for my Fritter Recipe.
- Mashed potato plus a few extra veges mashed in too. Have yellow/orange potato instead of white- so you can get potatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkin in there. Growing up, my parents only made mashed potato yellow (as we called it), they put potatoes and pumpkin, with some milk and butter. Years and years later, I still remember my nanna served us white mashed potato and we were like "yuk what is that?". If you make these things from a young age, kids don't know any different. So that is a bonus if you can start adding things in young. You can add any vege you want to mash because you are blending it down. This will be trial and error to see what the kids like the best.
- Educate your kids about vegetables and healthy eating. Knowledge is power and understanding. If the kids know why eating healthy whole foods is great for their bodies and why eating junk is really bad, they are more inclined to stick to real food. Google has everything these days, so whatever you can't find here about good eating habits or recipes, type in what you want to teach your kids and the results will be endless.