One of the most frustrating activities for parents is to make their children eat vegetables. Vegetables bring plenty of benefits for all people, but especially for kids, as they are the ones who are growing and developing. The veggies’ antioxidants, fiber, minerals and vitamins can help strengthen or build their immune system, encourage good brain development, aid digestion, and the list can continue.
But although they have so many advantages for the body, kids will still refuse to eat them, even if you try to convince them for a long period. This is why you must be creative and persuasive to get them eat the vegetables from their plate. Also, don’t feel bad if you must resort to sneaky ways; after all, getting them more used to the food is important.
Here are some easy ideas to try so your picky eater will finally not refuse to eat vegetables anymore.
Mix mashed potatoes with cauliflower
If the only veggies your kids eat are mashed or fried potatoes and are not fond of other options, then you can mix potatoes with something else. For example, cauliflower is very easy to disguise, so you can mash cauliflower for extra nutritional value.
You can steam the cauliflower and mix half of the amount with potatoes. Then, you need to add herbs, garlic and other flavor boosters, and voila, you will make your kid eat more veggies than usual without them realizing it.
Make sure they like the kitchen
If your kid likes the cooking space, you can make them participate in different cooking activities, increasing the chances that your little one will want to try what you have prepared, including veggies. You can start small by cooking together their favorite food, as this will ensure they have a good experience.
Also, you need to have a beautifully looking kitchen where kids will want to go, as this can make them spend more time in the cooking space. Colorful kitchen units can help you in this matter, as kids love everything in bright shades. If you can’t afford to buy an entire new kitchen unit, you can replace your kitchen door fronts, as this is a budget-friendly alternative that will not cost a fortune. The result? You will improve the look of your kitchen and make it more appealing to your kids.
Incorporate veggies into sauces
Another sneaky way to encourage your kids to eat more vegetables is to make them incognito into sauces. Kids love pasta, so you can easily try this option when cooking it. So, instead of making a sauce containing just beef, you can add some finely chopped sauteed mushrooms. You can try the same tactic with mac and cheese and add canned pumpkin to the recipe, mixing it with the cheese sauce. The same works with Alfredo, as you can add mashed cauliflower to the creamy mixture.
Whatever you want to choose from the above alternatives, you will get your kids to eat more veggies and boost the nutritional value with these small but easy options.
Mix them with noodles
If you have a kid who loves pasta, you can sneak some vegetables in the form of noodles so your child will benefit from more vitamins. You can mix half of the regular noodles with ones made from veggies. For the very picky eaters, you can peel some zucchini to look exactly like spaghetti.
Blend vegetables into smoothies
Spinach, cauliflower florets and baby kale can all be incorporated into smoothies, and the taste will almost disappear in this form. You need to look for some veggie-boosted smoothies and give them to your kid to add more nutritional value to their meals.
Make vegetables fun and tasty
Children can have particular preferences for their meals’ texture, taste and presentation. For example, those who like crunchier textures may prefer raw vegetables to cooked ones. Also, kids will find it more appealing to try different vegetables if they are colorful and are served together. If you know your kid is extremely picky, you can start to give them sweeter and more colorful veggies, like corn, carrots, pumpkin or cauliflower. Then, you can incorporate more options when your kid gets used to eating them.
Also, you can give them new vegetables served with something they like. If that doesn’t work, try to flavor veggies with sauces, seasoning and dips, such as hummus, mayonnaise and melted cheese.
Be an example
Parents have an important role in establishing a good mealtime experience for their kids. This is because, as a parent, you are a role model for your child. So, it is essential to have family meals together to allow your little one to see that adults enjoy a variety of nutritious food. This way, your kid will be more likely to join.
However, if your child still refuses to eat the vegetables you have offered, don’t force them, as these are counter-productive alternatives that will not make them change their behavior. Instead, it will transform mealtime into an unpleasant experience, and your kid will associate food with bad feelings.
Try to make your kids eat more veggies by providing some rewards if they do eat them, such as little toys or one of your kid’s favorite activities. Also, make sure you give your child smaller and manageable portions and increase them with time.
Try and try again
Children have different food preferences that change from one day to another. This is why it is vital to be patient and offer your kids a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Don’t worry if your little one only eats a small amount or none at first, and just keep serving them veggies as often as possible and be optimistic.
It is very likely you will not succeed at first, but try over and over again. Some children are very resilient to try something new, and it might take up to 10 times or even more to make them eat something. Your goal is to provide them a positive experience, so any small amount consumed is a step forward.