I’ve met a few kids in my time who have never had more vegetables than a carrot stick and, if they had to guess what an artichoke is, would say it’s a karate move. But not my kids, of course. They eat their vegetables all the time. At least sometimes. I mean, they all go through phases of pickiness, but when it’s all said and done, they eat almost every vegetable there is. What’s my secret? Well, I have 10 of them…
1. Serve them raw. Seriously, have you ever eaten a raw pea? It’s heaven on earth. No need for butter. Kids eat them like candy. I put a plate of raw cut-up veggies on the dinner table every night—yes, carrot sticks, but also sweet red peppers, celery, fresh peas. Cauliflower and tomatoes.
2. Let them have dip. It’s not the end of the world if they have a bit of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing on their veggies (in fact, there is an organic version of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing). It does make a piece of raw broccoli really much more yummy.
3. Plant a garden. Studies show that kids who grow veggies themselves will eat almost anything. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. If you are growing an organic garden, kids can eat stuff right out of the garden without rinsing. Unless it’s a carrot or potato or something like that (for you non-gardeners, those veggies grow underground, so they are covered in dirt when you harvest them).
4. Just add butter. Organic butter, of course, but a little bit never hurt anyone. And some vegetables, like spinach or kale, need a bit of oil for their nutrients to be absorbed better into our bodies. Corn on the cob…need I say more?
5. Add them to soup. It’s amazing what kids will eat when it’s submerged in a savory broth. If you suspect they won’t like something, chop it up till it’s really tiny. After a half hour in the soup, it will magically disappear!
6. Make a chopped vegetable salad. Same principle—cut up lots of raw veggies into cute little bits, add your family’s favorite dressing (ours is a simple vinaigrette), and even add some toasted nuts, and you have a really crunchy festival of vegetables.
7. Roast them till they are crispy and golden. Take cauliflower, for instance—it’s a tough vegetable to love if you’re a kid. But what I do is cut up a head of cauliflower, coat the tiny pieces liberally with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast at 350° for about a half hour and you have little brown bits of deliciousness. You can do the same with carrots, asparagus, and lots of other good things.
8. Get them to help you prepare them. I learned this when I was shelling lima beans one day. Suddenly, kids wanted to help and they all sat on the counter and helped shell the limas. Funny, but not many ended up in the pot. Limas are surprisingly good raw.
9. Cover in cheese. After all, kids need calcium too. There is no harm in having a little bit of melted cheese with your veggies—especially ones like broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, and other unusuals.
10. Eat them yourself! Most kids I’ve met who don’t eat their veggies have parents who don’t eat their veggies…busted! Kids love to copy what we do, so we must do what is right for them. Turns out it’s right for us, too.
What are your tips and tricks and techniques for getting kids to eat their vegetables?