How To Sneak More Veg Into Your Kids

Most children turn up their noses at vegetables at some stage of their childhood; some just seem to dislike them full stop, others seem to major on the ‘food powerplay’ involved and will eat them one day and refuse them the next.

Children’s taste buds change throughout childhood so they can go from hating something to liking it within a short space of time. It’s getting them to keep trying that’s the trick.  Here are a few tips and techniques to get children to eat their vegetables. Starting them young is the best way to give them good habits for life.

Invisible Veg

If your child avoids eating the veggies on their plate try blitzing veg into their pasta sauce. Carrots, peppers, onion and celery can all disappear without a trace into a tomato based sauce if you puree it for long enough – just be careful that skins and fibres don’t catch you out!  Some parents manage to hide veg in mashed potato although we’ve not had much luck with this tactic – there’s nothing like finding a lump of turnip or swede in their potato mash to make a child adopt the skills of a forensic scenes of crime officer and look suspiciously at every meal you serve for weeks! However, mashing similar coloured veg together – sweet potato, turnips, swede, parsnips ­ with carrots to create ‘Special Carrot Mash’ can hide a variety of vegetables behind the familiar.

Cheese sauce (providing your child likes cheese sauce in the first place) can successfully cover up veg like cauliflower, broccoli, and sprouts. Covering with extra cheese and grilling until crispy offers an alternative texture which may just tempt them into trying it.

Soups are a great way to ‘hide’ vegetables – blended together and served with croutons or a dollop of crème fraiche.

Getting them to help you

Involving your child in the preparation of their food can help them ‘buy into’ the whole vegetable experience. Podding peas, peeling carrots and chopping veg or even just emptying the frozen sweetcorn into the bowl prior to cooking gives them a sense of power and ownership of their meal that they don’t usually enjoy. This especially works with older siblings as they enjoy the feeling of power and superiority that being just like mum/dad gives them!

Artwork

Constructing a smiley face out of your childs dinner may be something you don’t have time for during midweek meals but at the weekend, when eating is a little more relaxed, try creating fun pictures out of their food. Sitting with your child and asking “What are you going to eat now ­ his ears?” is a fun way to get them to try new foods.

Dips and sauces

Cream cheese and hummus make healthy and tasty dips for children. Cut carrots, cucumber and celery into sticks and broccoli and cauliflower into small florets then let the kids dunk away!

Put them on your plate!

The only sure­fire way I found to get my children to eat something was to put it on my plate…..it immediately seemed to take on mysterious properties and was coveted by the kids! Seriously though, children do mimic their parents and if they see you tucking into a healthy plateful they are much more likely to eat the same foods on their plate.

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