Have you ever tried to force a toddler to eat veggies at dinner time? I’m sure we all have our own narrative of this story but the story line remains the same. Kids. Veggies. They don’t usually go together. Kids either love or loathe veggies, and if you’re worried about how little they are willing to eat them there are several ways to dress them up and make them more attractive. Like most of you, I’ve read several articles and recipes about sneaking more vegetables and fruits into your kids’ meals. I have tried countless mommy hacks associated with this topic but here are the few that have made mealtime a breeze in my home.
Don’t Yuck My Yum
New house rule everyone! Yes, this goes for kids and adults. Encourage eating one significant bite of something before saying “ew” or "I don’t like it". Even if it’s a vegetable that you aren’t fond of, chances are if they see you eat vegetables then they’ll eat them too. Make it your number one priority at dinner time to smile while eating veggies, make it a game or turn it into a story if you have to. Sometimes you have to get a little wacky in order to get your little one interested.
Dip Baby Dip
Of course we’re geniuses our name is M-O-M. Swap out crackers and fruit snacks for carrots and cucumber sticks. There are even several dipping sauces that have spinach in them for the days you’re really feeling sneaky. I've even tried dark chocolate covered carrots and celery sticks and guess what my son loved it!
Fruit Salad? Yummy Yummy!
This one is so sneaky you may even fool yourself. Make a delicious fruit salad and add some veggies. Sweeter ones are super easy to finely chop up and mix in. Whipped cream is a great topping and on fun days (aka the weekend) chocolate syrup may even do the trick.
Beat the Veggies!
Pureeing veggies has to be the best kept secret to getting kids to cooperate with veggies at feeding time. Try blending stronger tasting veggies like spinach with sweeter options like bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and almond milk. They won’t even taste the spinach!
Offer Healthy Foods First
Toddlers in particular don’t have much self-control. So if you put their favorite food next to a mound of vegetables, chances are they won’t eat them. Some evenings I don’t have time to turn dinner into a multi-course meal but on the evenings that I do I’ve found that my son is more likely to eat his vegetables when they are served by themselves before the main course meal (ex: meat, pasta).
Involve Your Little One
This summer my son and I made watermelon pizza. It was simple, we cut the watermelon into triangle pieces, lathered yogurt on as the sauce, and I let him add the fruit he wanted as toppings. Recipes like this aren’t just fun but they’re cost effective. Another way that I have begun introducing him to vegetables is by allowing him to plant his own right in our back yard. I quickly noticed that because he has been a part of the growing process, he enjoys eating the things that he’s helped to grow.
Don’t Make a Fuss
If your kids don’t like something, don’t become agitated. Take a deep breathe encourage them to eat the rest of their food and try preparing the same vegetable a different way until you find what works for them. Steamed carrots may be a no-no but roasted glazed carrots may win them over!
More Sneaky Rabbit Recipes
Try adding carrots to fruit smoothies, it’s almost impossible to detect.
Add chopped mushrooms and zucchini to meatloaf
Make homemade sweet potatoes fries zucchini fries instead of processed store-bought ones.
Blend fruit into your pancake mix
Add mashed cauliflower into mashed potatoes as a healthier option
Zucchini noddle’s in place of starchy pasta for alfredo
Add corn, diced tomatoes, and black beans to chicken quesadilla ( Don’t be afraid to let them dip it in home-made queso)
Broccoli and cheese- No kid can turn this down
Mix veggies in with macaroni or mashed potatoes
Substitute mushrooms for eggplants in your spaghetti bake
Blend spinach, banana, frozen mango and coconut water, then mold it into lime green popsicle treats.
Veggie packed meatloaf and meatballs are both nutritious and budget friendly
Add fruits to oatmeal (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, peaches)
Make pumpkin banana bread
As moms we’re no strangers to creativity! Find ways to teach your little one about veggies while making it fun for both you and them. Be persistent in your healthy eating journey! Stay positive and remember that the earlier you start, the easier it will be in the long run. Toddlers put up a good fight, first there’s potty training now they’re too picky for peas. Each day you are one step closer to mastering new foods that your child will enjoy at home.