Children and vegetables can sometimes go together like, well—children and vegetables.
Have no fear, mama: we’ve gathered the best ideas experts have to offer to help your little ones get all the nutrition they need. Employ these strategies from the experts (and mamas!) at Weelicious, The Forest Feast and Yummy Toddler Food and your wee one will be eating like a foodie in no time. Your job—grab the fruits, veggies and this article—and start chopping. ?
You should know. . .
Nutrition in early life impacts physical, neurological and even emotional development, so what kids eat can have lifelong impact on them! But before you freak out if all your son will eat is french fries (we’ve been there!), try these eight tricks and techniques from the pros.
The experts say. . .
1. Sneak it in
If your childkeepings snubbing the spinach, try this smooth trick: Throw it in the blender! Erin Gleeson, author of The Forest Feast for Kids—an awesome vegetarian recipe book for children— says “smoothies are a good way to get some vegetables in their little bodies, since the sweetness will likely cover the trace of anything vegetable-related. Lately I have been making my son Ezra beet smoothies which are a pretty color and taste good.”
Wanna beet it?
“Just combine one boiled beet, almond milk, 1 banana, a couple ice cubes and a dollop of yogurt. Sometimes I even sneak a few spinach leaves in,” Erin shares. Yum! ?
2. Chop to it!
“The smaller the veggie is, the better chance it has staying inside that little mouth and off your floor,” Erin explains. (Motherly note: seriously, how did we not realize this?) “I chop spinach leaves realllllly finely and mix them into scrambled eggs. Sprinkle with a little cheese and it works most of the time.”
3. Bake it in.
Not only willa little heat make most veggies more palatable, it’s also a great way tocombine add greens and other produce to your baked goods. “I make a lot of Vegan Zucchini Bread which Ezra loves for breakfast and snacks. I use half the sugar this recipe calls for, or substitute honey, and it’s great. You can make these loaves ahead and freeze them as well.”
4. Pick the right veggies.
Not allproduce is created equal—some are better mixed in, and others make perfect sidedishes on their own. Amy Palanjian, founder of Yummy Toddler Foods and author of the new ebook builds veggies into the meals she cooks:
“Green veggies,” Amy explains, “can be a little tricker to ‘hide’ since they are easier to spot, so we focus on having really yummy versions of green vegetables like roasted broccoli, mashed potatoes and broccoli, kale pesto, or sesame green beans.”
5. Get kids involved.
Catherine McCord, founder of the super-popular kid food site Weelicious tries a more straightforward approach. By getting kids involved at the beginning of the food process, she explains, they may have a more open mind to new foods. (And we hope, you have fewer turned-away meals!)
“By shopping with kids at the grocery and farmers market, cooking and eating together you will show them the enjoyment you have around these foods inspiring kids to enjoy them as well,” Catherine explains.
Give them two choices “Do you want broccoli or bell peppers?” “Do you want them raw or roasted?”
Just these small choices will offer kids some power over the foods that go in their bodies.
6. Experiment with cooking techniques.
Don’t think apuree is your only option! “Try them raw, cooked grated, chopped. Give kids a child safe knife and let them cook along side you. The more involvement they have in the kitchen the more they will be excited to try new foods!” ?
7. Add fruits and veggies to your kids’ favorite foods.
The Weelicious founder says shes not a big fan of sneaking vegetables into dishes, instead, she adds them to her kids’ favorite foods.
“Recently, I made green veggie pancakes and green mac and cheese You would be surprised what a kid would eat when the word ‘cookie’ ‘pancake’ or ‘pasta’ is attached to it,” Catherine says.
8. Don’t forget about snacks!
Your kidisn’t ready to scarf a salad? Don’t sweat it! “I’ve found that by making them a key component of snacks, my daughter eats a lot more fruits and vegetables,” explains Amy. ?
“We try to have snap peas, cucumber slices, frozen peas and easy fruits like clementines and bananas on hand. I also use those same sorts of fruits and vegetables as sides to round out dinners. I often serve them on shared plates so that my daughter can be in charge of serving herself—little ones so like power!” (Yes, they do!)
And remember. . .
“Cooking is love made edible”