How Do I Get Kids to Eat Vegetables and Fruits?

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The likelihood of a dinnertime meltdown of confirmed vegaphobes increases proportionally to the number of green foods on his plate. Broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts are healthy foods that look attractive on the plate — and stay there. You need to use your culinary wiles to get your picky eaters to eat a healthy diet sometimes, but extra efforts pay off in their good health and your peace of mind.


Disguise

Kid versus vegetable is an unsavory way to start a meal, and certain vegetables might appear on the most-unwanted list of your child. Sometimes what they do not know will help them eat better, and fruits and veggies are masters of disguise when blended seamlessly into other dishes. Vegetables in particular are a battleground for some kids. Luckily, many veggies blend right into fruit smoothies and leave no discernible trace.

Curious and Curiouser

Pique the curiosity of your child with new vegetable options. Sometimes kids balk when presented with large pieces of vegetables. Try introducing baby-sized vegetables to match them to smaller hands. Although baby-sized vegetables are more expensive than regular-sized ones, any vegetables eaten are cheaper than those ending up in the compost bin. Surprising colors and shapes provide amusement along with nutrition. Purple potatoes keep their intense violet hue when cooked, and some heirloom tomatoes have bumps and wart-like protrusions that delight typical 8-year-old boys. Tiny bananas let your kid express their inner-monkey, and minute fraise de bois, or wild strawberries, are perfect for little ladies-in-training.

Benefits

The Department of Agriculture stresses the importance of fruits and vegetables in everyone’s diet. Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals, fiber for healthy digestion and help prevent weight-related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. An additional benefit of getting your kids to eat a wide variety of healthy foods is widening their palette and increasing their acceptance of new and different things.

Examples

Veggies such as zucchini grated and blended into meatballs taste great with spaghetti and marinara sauce. Turn the often-maligned prune into a moistening agent for spice cake. Grated apples also work well grated and baked in gingerbread, or diced into small pieces in an oven-baked dressing or stuffing.

Steam some small purple potatoes in their skin. Cut them in half, drizzle on a small amount of tasty olive oil and season with salt and pepper. They look eye-popping on a stark white plate. Roasted baby cauliflower heads look remarkably like miniature brains to the unsullied eyes of a 9-year old. Embellish them with buttered, toasted breadcrumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese. On Halloween, set them on a pool of tomato-sauce “blood” to enchant the kids.

Considerations

Food is a powerful tool when you allow it to be, so do not make a big deal about what your kids will and will not eat. Sometimes a kid refuses to eat merely to assert some independence and a desire for control. Toning down the food battles might make you eventually win the war.

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