The battle to get veggies into our kids stomachs rages on unabated with various campaigns raging. There is the 'hide em' approach were pureed vegetables are added to dishes so that the kids don't know they are eating them.
There have been extreme examples of recipes that add spinach puree to chocolate brownies. The other approach is to make vegetables more attractive,
more appealing or get the kids to grow their own vegetables. This is harder to do but better in the long run.
Various research studies have shown that it can take up to 20 times of trying a new food before a child finally accept it. Children appear to be programmed to be suspicious of new foods and this applies to all foods and not just vegetables. The same caution does not seem to apply to a new sweets or brightly colored cake, even though the cake may be colored green (try it kids love it).
In nature sweet foods are usually safe and readily acceptable whereas bitter foods are regarded as a risk and are often rejected. Brightly colored foods are also appealing to kids. Many vegetables are somewhat bitter especially to the highly sensitive and uneducated taste buds of kids. The dull color and soggy texture of over-cooked vegetables on a plate can also be unappealing to kids.
Parents make things much more difficult if they make a fuss about eating vegetables and try to force kids to eat them. Offering rewards and punishments such as saying that your our kids won't get dessert unless they eat their vegetables is counter-productive as it conveys the message that veggies are unattractive and unappealing things that have to be eaten like a medicine rather than enjoyed.
Vegetables and other plant foods are vital for good health and they are tasty and enjoyable. They provide minerals, vitamins, fiber and many vital phytochemicals and so they are an essential part of a healthy diet. The fundamental goal is to simply present all sorts of natural foods to kids as they develop more mature palates. In a sense adults should be more creative with vegetables that are often presented in a boring way as an after-thought - a side dish. Making vegetables more appealing an interesting and making a fuss about how good they are will help to get children to try them.
Kids have to Taste Everything on their Plates - One rule to start with is to make a rule that children should be required to taste everything on their plate, but not necessarily eat it the first few times. Nutritionists say that many young people have to see a new food item on plate four or even five times before they will even try or taste it. So be persistent and keep presenting fruits and vegetables and be aware that it will take time.
Cook Meals that include Vegetables Mixed with the Meat - Sometimes vegetables are added as a side dish but Veggies are often part and parcel of many dishes mixed into recipes. This includes stir-fries, pasta sauces, risotto and many other dishes. Kids will still pick around to avoid eating the veggies but if you keep putting them in there and everyone else is eating them and you don't make a big fuss about the 'hunt and lick' process some vegetables will get eaten. Enjoy healthy foods and try not pander to ‘kids food’ offerings, but be aware that it is going to takes a long, long time. Provide family meals, not different meals for individuals. While some foods will be left on the plate and children will pick and choose, many kids will become more adventurous over time, particularly if you make a gentle fuss about what they are missing out on. If the challenging items are not on their plates they will never try them.
Take the Kids Shopping and get them to Choose the Vegetables - Let the children choose the fruits and vegetables they would like to try. Get them involved in the kitchen to help prepare and cook foods. Helping them see how vegetables are prepared and letting them make the side salads will often help.
Get Children to Cook Simple Meals - There are many great children's cookbooks available. Getting children involved in preparing vegetables will help them eat them more often.
Get Kids Interested in Gardening -get your children involved in gardening. If they can see items such as strawberries, lovely cherry tomatoes, baby peas or corn growing in a garden, and harvest items themselves, they will get more interested in vegetables.
Focus on the sweeter and colorful foods that are healthy - foods, like strawberries, mandarin oranges, cherries, tomatoes, peas, and corn. Some of these can be very expensive but buy small amounts.
Be persistent and Consistent -Serve vegetables is a wonderful range of varieties every day for the family. Keep offering food that has been previously rejected as children may need to see and taste food many times before they will eat it.
Add nuts, grapes, cherries and other fruits to salads - This helps make the salad more appealing.
Start Slowly and Avoid Confrontations - Begin with some of the more attractive vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, and snow peas. Make the kid aware that you expect them to take some time before they will begin to like things. Be patient, understanding and persistent.
Recipe and Food Ideas