My almost-three-year-old currently will not eat one single vegetable. Not one! She has turned her nose up at carrots and peas since she outgrew baby food, and when I try to get her to try cucumber or salad greens or tomatoes she absolutely refuses. So we give her baby food pouches with mixed fruits and vegetables as snacks, and make her smoothies with spinach or other greens blended in with fresh or frozen fruit. This is one of the tried-and-true tricks of many parents of picky eaters and veggie haters.
I spoke with our Registered Dietitian, Carly Dunn, about her tips for encouraging children to eat their veggies. And for extra inspiration, Carly also shared some of the important nutrients found in different fruits and vegetables. Share your tricks or suggestions in the comments!
How to get your family to eat more vegetables
- Get kids cooking – kids are more likely to eat a food when they are involved in the preparation and have ownership of the final product.
- Serve them raw – most families serve cooked vegetables at dinner, but some people prefer them raw. Try offering a fresh vegetable platter. On family outings, bring fresh-cut vegetables for snacks.
- Try a dip – make a homemade low-fat creamy ranch dip; other dips can include hummus, peanut butter, soy nut butter, Italian dressing, salsa.
- Make soup – a good way to introduce new vegetables is to add them to a broth based soup. Good options include corn, kale or other greens, tomatoes, zucchini, green beans and onions.
- Veggie salads – have kids help dice and slice different vegetables to make an entrée salad.
- Puree vegetables into sauce – adding tomatoes, peppers, greens, and squash to a spaghetti sauce is a great way to make sure kids consume essential vitamins and minerals. You can also add steamed cauliflower to mashed potatoes.
- Add to casseroles – add brightly colored vegetables to a chicken and rice or tuna casserole.
What’s so great about fruits and veggies?
Here are some of the key nutrients found in fruits and veggies and their benefits:
Fiber: Beneficial for gastrointestinal and cardiac health. Sources: beans, lentils, soybeans, artichokes.
Folate: Reduces risk of a pregnant woman having a child with a brain/spinal cord defect. Sources: black eyed peas, spinach, asparagus, great northern beans.
Potassium: Helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Sources: sweet potatoes, white potatoes, cooked greens, prune juice, tomato paste.
Vitamin A: Good for eyes and skin health. Sources: sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, kale, cabbage winter squash, red peppers, spinach, collard greens.
Vitamin C: Helps to heal cuts and keeps gums/teeth healthy. Sources: kiwi, strawberries, oranges, broccoli, pineapple, Brussels sprouts, mangoes.