If you’ve read anything health-related in the past ten years, you know there have been trends when it comes to acceptable eating. Dairy, soy, eggs and bacon—all have seen their time to shine— until a new study or Superfood hits the scene. But some things never change. Your mother was right. You should eat your veggies.
While dieticians and nutrition experts vary in their opinions about different aspects of food, they all agree on how vital fruits and vegetables are to good health. However, convincing children that eating vegetables is a good thing is a challenge that mothers have faced since the dawn of time. Here are some helpful tricks on making those veggies easier to swallow.
Stock up when the price is right.
Not only will the low price allow you to buy more, you won’t feel so bad letting something go to waste. (Sad, but true.) Buy what’s in season to ensure quality and a fair price. If you find a low price on a new-to-you vegetable, that’s a good time to try it as well. Just don’t buy a ton of something you’re not sure the children will go for―or you might be eating quite a lot of asparagus on your own.
Bottomless fruit and veggie tray.
If you can keep a platter stocked with sliced vegetables and fruits, you will find that the children tend to eat more. Bring it out at snack time and during dinner preparation. It’s amazing how much they’ll munch when they’re hungry and there aren’t less nutritious snacks around.
Quick ways to prep your produce.
There are the obvious convenience solutions such as buying baby carrots and prepared veggie trays. But you can quickly cut an apple if you slice around the core instead of through it. The same holds true for bell peppers and peaches.
Let the little ones help.
Children are more likely to eat what they’ve helped prepare. Not to mention, you are giving them the life skill of food preparation.
Jazz them up.
While covering vegetables in a cheesy sauce defeats the purpose of feeding your family healthier food, there’s no harm in preparing them in a new and fresh way. Add sautéed garlic and a little olive oil to steamed veggies in order to boost their flavor. Drizzle on a little lemon juice. Seek out recipes that focus on the fresh vegetables.
Make it fancy.
In catering, there’s a mantra: “presentation is everything.” While it may not be absolutely everything, the presentation of a dish matters. Take a few extra minutes to section the grapefruit with a knife, cutting away the peel and pith and removing it from the membranes. There’s a whole lot of love in that five-minute operation and it makes eating the grapefruit more of a pleasurable experience. Think of ways to arrange salads or serving dishes in a way that is pleasing to the eye. It will be more fun to eat.
Visit the source.
Whether you plant your own garden, shop at the local farmer’s market, or visit a nearby farm, children will be more excited about the foods they eat if they know where they came from. Plus, the fresher the food, the better it will taste. Ever eaten a homegrown tomato? There’s no comparison between those and the ones you find at the grocery store.
Don’t force them.
You can lead a child to veggies, but you can’t make him eat them or embrace what you know is good for him. You can however, provide healthy options and teach how to make good food choices. Be consistent. Provide options and reduce his access to junk food. If you’re excited about good healthy food, eventually your children will catch your enthusiasm.
If all else fails—disguise it.
There’s a handful of cookbooks out there that focus on the idea of hiding vegetables and vegetable puree in child-friendly recipes. Brownies made with spinach? Cauliflower mashed potatoes? It can be done – and with great success. Vegetables and fruits can easily be incorporated into your regular muffin or quick bread recipes. Consider stirring in canned pumpkin, applesauce or baby food plums in the place of some of the sugar and oil in a regular recipe. You may find that your family prefers this healthier boost.
Your mother would be proud.