If convincing your kids to try vegetables makes you want to pull your hair out and throw an adult-sized temper tantrum, let me first just say, mama, you are so not alone. Getting children to try new foods is hard, and to be fair, I can’t even blame them—there are days all I want to do is crawl in bed and have a glass of warm milk, too.
So before you cry yourself to sleep over missed meals and thrown food, pour yourself a cup of tea, pull up a chair and know that everything’s going to be okay. Most children will naturally become more curious of new foods as they grow, and their bodies inherently crave the nutrients they need. In the meantime, here are six ways to creatively add more good foods to your child’s diet:
1. Add veggies to your fruit smoothies.
Get creative and try adding things like beets, broccoli, carrots, or even avocado to your smoothies. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are also an easy addition; just be sure to mix them with your liquid first and blend well to avoid chunks of green. Adding a squeeze of fresh citrus juice like lemon, orange, or lime, will help to cut the bitterness and keep the smoothie sweet and fresh. We also recommend using high-powered blenders like the Ninja or Vitamix to get really smooth, creamy smoothies.
2. Swap out noodles for “zoodles.”
Try this fun spin on the original by introducing spiralized vegetables like zuchinni “zoodles” with a sauce your kids already know and love. We love spiralizing zucchinis, cucumbers, and broccoli stems, or cooking up spaghetti squash in place of noodles. Try sautéing the veggie noodles until soft, rather than serving raw, and introduce them with a few different types of sauces. Your kids may not like the texture on the first try, and that’s okay! Be patient, keep trying and you may be surprised!
3. Add protein powder to pancakes.
Getting your kids to eat chicken, beef, and fish can be tricky. Pancakes? Not such a hard sell. We love adding a scoop of high-quality, good-for-you protein powder like Designer Protein or Tera’s Whey to pancake mix for an extra protein boost at breakfast (or let’s be honest, lunch and dinner, too). Just add a little extra milk or water if the batter gets too thick. You can also mix a few mashed bananas and protein powder for simple, two-ingredient, healthy pancakes in 5 minutes or less.
4. Go nutty with nuts and seeds.
Kids are often put-off by textures and chunky pieces so blending nuts and using nut butters is a great way to add some healthy fats to your child’s diet. We love adding chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, and hemp seeds to our smoothies, making chocolate chia pudding and popsicles, and slathering a healthy dose of almond and other nut butters on just about anything we can think of. So go nuts, mama.
5. Make “desserts” with your veggies.
Try serving up healthy dessert options like sweet potato brownies or chocolate zucchini muffins for a treat that will get the whole family sneaking into the kitchen for a bite. Other “dessert” favorites around here include banana ice cream, yogurt parfaits and fresh fruit trays.
6. Don’t beat yourself up if some (or all) of the above don’t work.
At the end of the day, know your precious kiddos are so lucky to have a mom who cares enough to worry if they’re eating their greens. You’ll keep trying, and your kids will keep changing. I promise: you’ll get there. If I may be so bold as to speak for dietitians everywhere, we freaking love caring moms like you. Keep up the good work. Now pass those sweet potato brownies will ya?