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Unless your kids are super-healthy, vegetable-eating foodies, chances are they’re not eating enough vegetables—or any at all.
With a variety of vegetables that are in-season, farmers’ markets open, and tons of healthy and delicious recipes, summer is one of the best times of year to encourage your kids to eat vegetables.
More good news: you don’t have to resort to sneaky tactics, like hiding vegetables in meals, blending them into smoothies, or making vegetables into art projects to get your kids to even take a bite.
Besides, if you want to raise kids who know what vegetables look and taste like, and who develop their own food preferences, sneaky tactics are not the solution.
While there are so many ways to encourage healthy eating habits which I talk about all the time on this blog, there are a handful that top the list. Here are 2 of my best tips to get kids to eat vegetables.
TIP #1: WANT KIDS TO EAT VEGETABLES? EAT WITH THEM.
It took the coronavirus pandemic to bring families together around the table again, but all those family meals (which by the way don’t have to be dinner), can be one of the best ways to get kids to eat vegetables.
In fact, a recent study found that when parents eat vegetables together, their kids are more likely to follow suit.
Eating together gives them the opportunity to explore their food and develop their own food preferences so let them smell, taste and touch.
The key however, is to be consistent because getting your kids out of their picky eating habits takes time. Studies show it takes between 8 and 15 times of introducing a new food for a child to accept it.
Do your best to serve vegetables at meals and even at snacks.
Related: 25 Healthy Summer Snacks for Kids
Also, studies show that variety— and offering kids choices—increases the likelihood that they’ll eat vegetables.
Try to serve two types of vegetables or serve a cooked vegetable and a raw vegetable.
Or let your kids make their own salads.
TIP #2 GET KIDS TO EAT VEGETABLES BY MAKING THEM TASTE GOOD
While my kids definitely have vegetables they refuse to eat, I often hear them say, “Yum, I love broccoli!” and “this cauliflower is so good!”
Want your kids to think the same way about vegetables? Make them taste good.
No one likes bitter Brussels sprouts or a bland bunch of kale, and we can’t expect our kids to even try them if they don’t taste good.
Roasting vegetables on my Pampered Chef pan with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt is usually a win with my kids.
But there are other ways to make vegetables healthy and delicious. Here are some ideas:
Not only does a pat of butter help the body absorb and utilize the fat soluble vitamins in vegetables, but it makes them delicious. I like Kerrygold grass-fed butter because it also contains gut-friendly probiotics.
MAKE CHIPS OR FRIES
One of my favorite ways to make vegetables appealing for kids is to slice them thin like chips or fries.
Try kale, beets, jicama, zucchini, radishes, butternut squash, green beans, turnips, cabbage, and eggplant.
Simply mist them with olive oil or coconut oil, add your favorite seasoning or salt, and pop them in the oven on high heat until they’re crispy.
Dust off your spiralizer and run through zucchini, yellow squash, or carrots.
Add tomato sauce or pesto and a sprinkle of cheese, and you have a healthy and delicious dish.
Sautéing vegetables with onions and garlic adds a ton of flavor which can encourage your kids to eat vegetables.
Extra virgin olive oil, safflower oil, and sesame oil all lend themselves well to this cooking method.
While you’re already throwing your burgers on the grill, add some vegetables.
Grilling vegetables gives them a savory, slightly smoky flavor and a soft, but firm texture.
Eggplant, zucchini, peppers and portobello mushrooms are all great choices.
Grilling vegetables is also a great way to get your kids in the kitchen so give them skewers and let them pick the vegetables they want.
When kids make their own choices, they’re more likely to eat healthy.
ADD A DIP
Serving vegetables with a dip adds a ton of flavor and variety, which studies show can encourage healthy eating habits.
Try hummus, bean dip, guacamole, homemade ranch dressing (here’s a recipe), or olive oil and vinegar.
When buying store-bought dips, read labels because many are high in calories, saturated fat, sugar, sodium, and artificial ingredients.
ADD HERBS AND SPICES
Herbs and spices can give vegetables a boost of flavor so experiment with different types. Sprinkle carrots with paprika or add basil or oregano to broccoli, for example.