7 Tips to Get Your Kids To Eat More Vegetables

Any parent who understands the importance of consuming vegetables has probably met with a child’s objection at the dinner table. I personally know that it is not easy to get some kids to eat vegetables…  Sometimes you may find greens hidden under their plates or some zucchini under the table, or worse, the child refuses to eat the whole meal because of some peas in the dish.

With so many other options available today, many children will not want to eat vegetables, even as a side dish.

So how can you prevent a frenzy over vegetables from happening daily? Well, there are a few secrets you can employ to get them to eat their vegetables and eventually enjoy them.

1. Cover the Taste

One of the reasons kids dislike vegetables is because some have a bitter taste, especially Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, arugula, cabbage, lettuce, and more. Growing up in our era, most foods served for children are rich in fats or sugars or both.  Consuming a bitter-tasting vegetable will probably be last on their list.

Many adults hate these vegetables for the same reasons too. So, expecting your child to eat these vegetables just because they’re healthy for them is not a useful approach.

The first secret is to mask the bitterness of the vegetables by using vegan butter to either stir fry the vegetables quickly before serving or to bake them in the oven using this butter. 

This will not only mask the bitterness of the vegetables but make them very tasty. Vegan butter can be bought in some countries, but in some places, it is more difficult to find. In such cases, I recommend preparing your own vegan butter. It’s very cheap, easy to do, and only takes a few minutes to make. The butter will then need some time to set in the refrigerator, but in a short time, you will have a great tasting food preparation ingredient.

My recipe for vegan butter is:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240ml) of melted coconut oil (use refined coconut oil if you dislike the strong taste of the coconut. This also makes it taste more like butter)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) unsweetened organic soy or almond milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast for the buttery taste
  • a small sprinkle of turmeric for coloring
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Add melted coconut oil to a deep bowl along with the apple cider vinegar, and the unsweetened soy or almond milk. Blend lightly together.
  • Add the nutritional yeast, a small pinch of turmeric and salt.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Add the olive oil

Pour mixture into a butter dish and refrigerate until set, and here you have a great tasting vegan butter.

Another way to increase your child’s vegetable consumption is to use a vegetable dip for raw vegetables. This makes the vegetables very fun to eat. This is great for carrots, cucumbers, and pepper sticks, as well as cherry tomatoes that they can dip into a dip before consuming them. Dips may include a tomato salsa made from fresh peeled, grated tomatoes with olive oil or balsamic vinegar, or a hummus dip or tahini dip made from sesame seed paste, a squeezed lemon, and cumin. 

2. Cater to Their Taste Buds

You will have definitely noticed that there are some vegetables that your kids love and others that they dislike. Your goal will be to give them more of the vegetables that they love.

Don’t obsess over variety for their nutritional requirements. You want to get them into the habit of eating some vegetables or salad first. 

Once they’re used to eating the vegetable they like, you can gradually introduce the other, less-preferred vegetables. In this way, they can get accustomed to eating different types of vegetables daily.

3. You Need to Become a Role Model

Research shows that kids will copy what you do and not what you tell them to do. So, one of the best ways to get your kids to love their vegetables is for you to eat your own vegetables with appetite in front of them.

In front of young children (those under five years of age), you can exaggerate how tasty the veggies are and how you love eating them. Use words like yummy or this tastes great. Mmmm and aaaah, and be happy when you eat your vegetables.

Your young kids will see what you do and want to be and do as you do. They’ll learn to eat their vegetables and be happy about it. 

This tactic is harder to do with older kids over the age of 5 years. Still, once you place the vegetables on your older child’s plate and eat your portion of vegetables, they will slowly get used to eating their veggies too.

One study showed that if you let a child taste a new food ten times, they will become accustomed to the taste and will be less likely to refuse it. So, all you have to do is get them to eat even a small portion ten times. 

. So, one of the best ways to get your kids to love their vegetables is for you to eat your own vegetables with appetite in front of them.

In front of young children (those under five years of age), you can exaggerate how tasty the veggies are and how you love eating them. Use words like yummy or this tastes great. Mmmm and aaaah, and be happy when you eat your vegetables.

Your young kids will see what you do and want to be and do as you do. They’ll learn to eat their vegetables and be happy about it. This tactic is harder to do with older kids over the age of 5 years. Still, once you place the vegetables on your older child’s plate and eat your portion of vegetables, they will slowly get used to eating their veggies too.

One study showed that if you let a child taste a new food ten times, they will become accustomed to the taste and will be less likely to refuse it. So, all you have to do is get them to eat even a small portion ten times. 

4. Let Them Cook with You

Allowing your child to cook the food with you will make them more eager to try what they have prepared. Some parents may want to take it a step further and do gardening with their kids. When helping to harvest, reap, and cook food, an involved child will really connect to the natural processes of natural foods and will have a major sense of satisfaction from eating something that they grew.

5. Serve The Vegatables First

I recommend serving kids vegetables before their dinner arrives. When they are very hungry, there is more chance that they will eat vegetables and more of them. They will also be more likely to explore different tastes.

6. Add The Vegetables To a Shake

You may wish to try adding the vegetables to a plant-based milkshake. My daughters just love this nutty plant-based milkshake made with vanilla-flavored soy milk, walnuts, pecans, bananas, lemon peel, chia seeds, cinnamon, dates and all the greens that are in season including spirulina and barley grass. It is not the healthiest drink as it does have sugar in the soy drink, but it is a great and tasty way to get them used to eating green food.

7. Make it Fun

You can spice things up by arranging the vegetables on their plates to make smiley faces or different shapes. You may also place a healthy cookie on the plate that they can only eat once they have completed their meal and their vegetables. It may be a small bribe, but it does work.  

To Conclude:

If you keep things interesting and are a good role model for your children, most will eat their vegetables with time without much fanfare. Sometimes, it is best to be quiet and not make a fuss out of things.

Some fortunate parents have kids that naturally love vegetables and will eat whatever is on their plate, no questions asked. In this case, no reward is necessary. Aim only to resort to extra measures if the child is creating a fuss over the meals. 

s best to be quiet and not make a fuss out of things.

Some fortunate parents have kids that naturally love vegetables and will eat whatever is on their plate, no questions asked. In this case, no reward is necessary. Aim only to resort to extra measures if the child is creating a fuss over the meals.

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Dr. Galit Goldfarb