Springtime can be a great reset to encourage more fresh vegetables at home. Here are some fun tricks to add more vegetables to your child’s diet:
Let them pick the veggie of the day. If possible, bringing your children with you to the grocery store and allowing them to pick the produce of their choice will increase the likelihood that they will try it! However, bringing children with you to the grocery store may be challenging, so you can also ask them what color vegetable they would like to eat. Children love to be a part of the process and know that they helped create the delicious meal in front of them.
Play with your food. Allow your child to play with the vegetable before prepping, during cooking, and after being cooked. Familiarity is a huge key to trying and accepting new food.
Experiment with fun shapes. The use of shapes, textures, and colors can make mealtime fun. Try cutting the vegetable or fruit into a new shape, offering a variety of textures like baby carrots for a crunch, or arranging the meal so it looks colorful.
Make use of dips and seasonings. Does your child love ranch, ketchup, or every other dip? Set aside a small amount for them to dip their vegetables in. This will increase the likelihood of them eating their vegetables and trying new ones.
Hide the veggies. Sometimes we notice our children pushing around the vegetable option on the plate. Consider hiding vegetables in sauces, soups, pizza toppings, quesadillas, smoothies and more. When making a smoothie, bananas help mask the flavor of any vegetable hidden in there. As much success as this tip may have, continue to offer whole vegetables so your children are still familiar with the vegetable option.
Start small. When introducing a new or familiar vegetable, offer only one or two pieces to start. This eases children’s nerves and puts less pressure on finishing their entire portion. Encourage them to feel, touch, smell, and take a small bite to start. Once your child starts to love the vegetable, offer more!
Check out our collaboration with ChopChop Family for recipes that the whole family can enjoy creating and eating together!
Laura Ortiz, MS, RD, LDN