Vegetables can be a tough sell for some kids (and some adults). If you’re looking for ways to get more veggies into your family’s diet, here are seven moves that work for us!
I’ve written about my no-snacks-except-veggies-in-the-hour-before-dinner-house-rule before (read My Pre-Dinner Snack Strategy). It’s worked wonders around here. It takes the edge off of hunger (but they’re still hungry for dinner). And if they skip their veggies at dinner, I don’t fret–they’ve already nibbled on some before they even got to the table. (Also, the word “platter” seems to elevate any offering I give them.)
2. Put veggies in your kids’ lunch boxes
Even if you think they won’t eat them. Because they just might–especially if you keep portions of other foods a bit smaller.
3. Blend them into smoothies
Make them for yourself and your kids. But don’t be sneaky about it. Let them see you putting spinach in the blender or carrots in the juicer–and enlist them to help! (Get this recipe for Starter Green Smoothie)
4. Make stir-fries
And fried rice. And noodle dishes. They’re easy vehicles for tossing in veggie odds and ends. And in my house, soy sauce has the power to make veggies much more appealing. (Get this recipe for Quick Stir-Fry Veggies with Noodles)
5. Serve salad nightly
Your kids aren’t salad eaters? Make them “starter salads”, like the one shown above. This is actually how I got my husband eating vegetables too: I made tiny bowls of 3-4 lettuce leaves, covered in croutons and a favorite dressing. Now he orders salads in restaurants. (I am so proud!) My fifth grader has graduated to a bigger bowl. My first grader is still warming up to the idea. But I’m not giving up! (Read: How to Teach Your Kids To Love Salad.)
6. Put them alongside familiar favorites
For some kids, veggies are decidedly less familiar foods and less preferred foods. But they look less intimidating alongside things they already like, such as pretzels, favorite fruits, or cheese. Veggies that may be a hard sell at mealtime can look fun and extra-appetizing on a snack platter like this.
7. Don’t be afraid of a little ranch dressing
Maybe you’re wary of ranch–or hate that your kid dips everything into it. Like ketchup, ranch dressing can actually be a vehicle for trying new foods or enjoying foods that might otherwise seem bland or bitter.
In one study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, preschoolers who were especially sensitive to bitter flavors ate 80 percent more broccoli at snack time when it was served alongside ranch dressing. For more of my thoughts on ranch dressing, read: In Defense of Ranch Dressing.