Getting my girls to love a variety of veggies is a serious struggle. My older daughter will try any veggie at least once, but she’s particular about what she’ll eat beyond that one bite. My younger daughter is like a brick wall when it comes to trying new foods — totally unmovable. If it doesn’t look the way she thinks it should look, it won’t touch her tongue. Ever.
So, I’ve recently gotten a little sneaky with their veggies. In addition to a fresh side dish at every meal, I blend veggies and stir them into sauces, smoothies — you name it! — to add extra vitamins to my kids’ favorite dishes. Even if I can’t get them to embrace new veggies overnight, I hope to change their palates by incorporating new flavors into their meals.
If you’re with me, keep reading for more creative (and yes, under the radar) ways to get your fam to eat more veggies.
1. Introduce your baby to the good stuff as early as possible. Eat a variety of fresh veggies during your pregnancy and while you’re nursing, because what you eat is literally what your baby eats during these stages of development. If your diet is full of the good stuff, your baby will get accustomed to veggies early on and be more likely to enjoy them later, too.
2. Serve fruit-and-veggie-infused water, not sugary drinks like soda. Not only will you encourage your kids to drink more water, you’ll also introduce them to the flavors of cucumber, asparagus, and broccoli in a fun way. Sweeten the water with a little fruit (think strawberries, pineapple, or apple).
3. Make smoothies filled with fruits and veggies. Start by using your kid’s favorite nut butter as a base, then blend with yogurt, fruit, and a new veggie. Try this pumpkin pie smoothie or this peanut butter smoothie. Yum!
4. Let your kids help you with food shopping and mealtime prep. Kids are way more likely to try a new food if they’ve had a hand in growing (or shopping for) and preparing it. So, invite them to give you a hand!
5. Keep lots of fresh, ready-to-eat food in your kitchen. Pre-filled trays or containers of baby carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, nuts, and cheese sticks make snack time a breeze. And, kids will feel free to help themselves to healthy food even when you’re not around to make it.
6. Make fun fruit and veggie shapes on their plate. This little trick makes mealtime fun — and it encourages kids to chow down on the stuff they already like (and maybe even try a new thing or two!). Get creative and make flowers, a bicycle, and funny faces with their favorite fruit and veggies (find inspiration here).
7. Reinvent the classics they love, in surprising ways. Substitute traditional noodles with spaghetti squash to introduce your kids to a new veggie in a familiar dish. Finely diced veggies are a great substitute for rice in Asian dishes. Mashed cauliflower has a mild enough flavor to stand in for potatoes in many family favorites.