It’s no secret that parents struggle to help their kiddos eat more vegetables! Unless you have a unicorn child (in which case this article does not apply to you). In general, we do a lot of convincing, a lot of offering, and at the end of the meal we wind up frustrated and defeated.
Let me tell you, you’re not alone. Here are 6 simple tricks to helping your family eat more veggies!
6 Simple Tricks to Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables
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Blend Veggies into Pasta Sauce
Blending veggies into pasta sauce is one of the easiest and most foolproof ways to help your kiddos eat more vegetables. Theoretically, you can do this with almost any pasta sauce, including red sauces and cream sauces. The best veggies to blend are squashes, onions, bell peppers, handfuls of spinach or kale, and carrots.
Besides boosting the nutritional content of the pasta sauce, you will be boosting the flavor also! A little goes a long way, so just start with a handful of the vegetable that you choose.
An easy way to try this out is to pick up a jar of pasta sauce from the store, add it to your blender with your veggies of choice, and blend them together until it’s smooth and creamy. Add the sauce to your pasta however you usually make it, and don’t say a word about it to the kiddos! See how they do with it. If they like it, then you have just easily and secretly boosted their nutrition.
Blend Frozen Zucchini Cubes into Smoothies
Blending frozen zucchini into your kiddos’ smoothies to help them eat more vegetables is the best tip in this entire post! Why? Zucchini is flavorless and packed with nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and potassium! Plus, kids love fruit smoothies.
A fruit smoothie made with frozen zucchini is something that you can offer daily. You might also try adding a handful of spinach, but that will change the color of the smoothie and likely make them suspicious. Start simple at first, with just a handful of frozen zucchini, and prepare to be amazed!
To get you started, try this smoothie recipe below that tastes like ice cream:
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/4 cup frozen mango
- 1/4 cup frozen zucchini
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 cup fortified soy milk
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
Repeated exposure is not a recipe, but it is a highly-recommended routine to helping your kiddos learn to eat more vegetables. Children interact with their food using all of their senses- vision, smell, touch, taste (hopefully), and hearing.
This means that every day, you should place 1-2 pieces of a vegetable (and fruit) on your kids’ plates. They don’t have to eat it, you don’t have to talk about it, just let them see it and accept the vegetables presence on the plate with their other foods. If they chunk it off first thing, that’s okay. Just keep trying!
Some food experts say that all it takes is repeated exposure of including a fruit and vegetable on their plates at every meal to improve acceptance and encourage them to eat vegetables later on in life.
Make Foods into Fun Shapes
Changing the appearance of the veggies can encourage your kiddo to eat more vegetables. As just mentioned before, kiddos experience food with all of their senses. Making the food visually appealing can go a long way to encouraging them to eat more of these nutritious foods!
I know, it seems like one more thing to do. Trust me. Pick up a set of small cookie cutters at the grocery store next time you are there (or order this fun set from Amazon Prime!), and watch their interest levels peak when you present apples shaped like stars, cucumbers shaped like hearts, and carrots shaped like dinosaurs. When you take the time to do this, the child will likely feel excited about it and be more engaged. Even if it never touches their mouths, touching with their hands, looking, and smelling are all good things to encourage, too! Help describe these sensations as they explore veggies on their plates.
Editor’s pick! this 18 piece set comes with mini size cutters including flowers, rabbits, shapes, stars, dinosaurs, and more. Made of stainless steel and plastic, these pieces are easy to clean and great to use for cutting cookies, sandwiches, veggies, fruit, and more!
Pair with Favorite Foods
This is a classic trick to encouraging kiddos to eat more vegetables! We talked about repeated exposure before, and this pairs well with that practice. If your kiddo loves macaroni and cheese, mix in small pieces of broccoli, and serve it right up!
They might pick the broccoli out, but they will be interacting with the food nonetheless. If your kiddo loves toast in the morning, add some fruit to their plate. If your kiddo loves French fries, make some zucchini fries also!
You might also try adding vegetables to spaghetti or to the tops of their pizza. By exposing your kiddos to vegetables with their favorite foods, they will make positive associations and be more likely to taste and eat them in the future, if not right away.
Give Them a Dipping Sauce
Okay, lastly, who doesn’t love a good dipping sauce? Hummus, guacamole, ketchup, ranch… there are endless varieties of dipping sauces! Your kiddo may be more inclined to eat more vegetables if their carrots are paired with hummus, their zucchini fries with ketchup, and their bell pepper strips with guacamole. Aren’t we all?
Your child may feel particularly grown up with a dipping sauce on the side, and don’t fret if they eat mostly the sauce and not so much the veggie. Tasting the vegetable with the dipping sauce is allowing them to try the flavor of the vegetable and be comfortable learning the texture, smell, and tactile sense of it as well.
Prepare for a mess, especially if you have younger babies, and encourage them to dip different foods into the sauces as well! This can be a fun and interactive way to explore new foods with the family.
We love this stainless steel set of dipping cups with lids from Amazon!
There you have it! 6 simple tricks to helping your family, namely kids, eat more vegetables. Give a few of these tips a try this week, and I hope you find that your kiddo tries more vegetables right away or seems more inclined to in the future with repeated exposure. You can do this!