Let’s face it. MOST of us don’t eat enough vegetables. While we all ‘know’ that we’re supposed to ‘fill half our plate’ the reality is that is just doesn’t happen.
We’re busy, we don’t want to waste food, and we want our family to be happy with their meals. It’s tough. When you combine this with the fact that many people just don’t like (at least certain) vegetables it gets even tougher.
There are some ways to get more veggies in your family. For one, offer them as a between meal snack. Doesn’t each member of your family like dip? Whether that dip is guacamole, hummus, or ranch, it’s a way to get more color in their tummies. Also, since the ‘snack’ is a ‘snack’ and not a forced meal option the kids are much more likely to eat it.
You can also add vegetables to your cooked foods, you know, the sneaky way. Puree some pumpkin and add it to the chili (it does taste good – really just adds texture and color). My own children wouldn’t eat anything with onions but when the onions were pureed and added to the dish they were essentially invisible and the kids gobbled it up. You can puree other things too such as celery or anything you can’t get eaten! Leftover fruit can be pureed and added to most any baked sweet dish or smoothies! (But kids will probably turn their noses up at green smoothies…. so be careful there.)
The problem with hiding the veggies by sneaking them into the foods, like I did with the onions, is that the kids never learn to like them. This can become a problem later on in life. To avoid this issue offer a small amount of the new (or unusual or hated) vegetable at dinnertime as a side-dish. It doesn’t have to be a whole serving, just a taste is all that’s required.
It takes time to like a new food. I’ve heard that it takes between three to seven different tastings of the same vegetable for a person to know ‘fer shure’ whether they like or dislike a certain food. This means that you’re gonna have to cook that ‘awful’ vegetable at least seven different times and have the kids ‘at least taste’ it at least seven different times. When the children know that they don’t ‘have’ to eat a full serving of anything they’re more likely to try it and might even like it. This gives the child the time and freedom to try new things, develop their own taste buds. They’re much more likely to try something if you aren’t forcing it upon them.
Still having issues? Try adding a cheese sauce or a different method of cooking. For instance, root vegetables taste totally different cooked in an oven than they do boiled on the stovetop. Mix it up!
Keep growing your vegetables. Keep preparing them and offering them throughout the day, in different forms. Give everyone time to decide if they like something and while experts say not to sneak in the vegetables, us Mom’s know that we have to get some in them, somehow… …