Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eat Your Vegetables: Ideas to Help Your Children Eat More Vegetables

Picture above: My son digging into our organic kale from the farmer's market!

In my health coaching I often have parents complaining that their children will not eat vegetables.  There are several factors that contribute to children eating vegetables including introducing vegetables at a very young age, shaping young tastes, the parents modeling healthy eating, etc., but today I am going to share some simple tips that will hopefully help your family eat more fruits and vegetables.

1 - Keep trying
       - It can take ten tries to develop a taste for something so do not give up if your child does not like broccoli the first time you serve it.  Try and try again.

2 - Hide them
       - Add greens to smoothies - recipe for my low glycemic index smoothie with greens HERE
       - Juice them and have your children help you - recipe for my green vegetable juice HERE
       - Add vegetables to your kid's favorite meals - recipe for my vegetable packed meatballs HERE  Serve them with spaghetti squash instead of noodles.
       - Eggs are a great place to add lots of vegetables.  My son loves green onions, fresh herbs, avocado and spinach in his eggs or try adding cauliflower puree to your scrambled eggs before you cook them.  Elana's Pantry also has a great recipe for green eggs, which are super fun for kids.  Serve them with some ham on Dr. Seuss' birthday!

3 - Make it fun
       - In addition to the green eggs idea above there are lots of ways to make eating fruits and vegetables fun!
       - My son loves the dairy free, gluten free pancakes I make.  I fill them with yummy fresh or frozen organic berries and cook them into fun shapes with cookie cutters (stainless steal...not plastic....of course).
       - Artichokes are another favorite food in our house.  They are really fun to eat.  Kids love to scrape their teeth along the leaves to get the "meat" off.  They also like helping take the artichoke apart to eat the heart.  Click HERE for more information on artichokes.  
       - Name your vegetables.  In our house we call broccoli and broccolini, trees, and our son loves that he can gobble them up a tree like a dinosaur.
       - Make fun designs - arrange the fruit and vegetables into a fun design for the kids.  Below is a picture of the apple cars I made for my son's second birthday.  There are also lots of great ideas on pintrest.  Feel free to follow me on pintrest, username chillis22.  Check out my favorite recipe, Thrive and kids boards.

4 - Dip them
       - Hummus is a staple in our house.  We always have cut up vegetables and hummus on hand for an easy snack.  The most common vegetables we use are organic cucumbers, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and red, yellow or orange bell peppers.

5- Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks instead of chips or other packaged food items.  
       - If you already have your vegetables washed and cut up, serving them as a snack can be as easy as grabbing a bag of chips.  Go ahead and prep some vegetables when you get home from the grocery store so they are ready whenever your kids get hungry.

6 - Talk to your children
       - Tell your children that fruits and vegetables will help them grow healthy and strong.  Use words that they can relate to.  For example, tell your sports player they are "run fast" foods.  tell your soccer player they are "soccer foods."  Tell your fashionista they are "healthy hair" foods.  Tell your bookworm they are "brain foods."  Whatever your child's interests are use a term that connects them and peeks their interest.  Once they detox from all of the packaged foods and realize how much better they feel eating fruits and vegetables, their bodies will naturally prefer eating healthy.

I hope this helps some of you to get your kids eating more fruits and vegetables.  I know we all want our families to the be as healthy as they can be.  Remember it starts with the parents.  If you do not eat healthy, your kids will not eat healthy.


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