How to incorporate more vegetables into your children’s diet.

How to incorporate more vegetables into your children’s diet.

“My baby does not eat vegetables at all.”

“How do I cook vegetables in a different way so that my child will eat them?”

 

We all know how difficult it can be sometimes, to get our children to eat their vegetables.
We try to cook them as tasty as possible, present them in the most attracting way, but more than often they just don’t want to know about it.

And so us parents, start to worry that our children are not getting all the nutrients they need to thrive and grow.
I came up with a list of ideas and creative ways of including (yes, basically sneaking!) vegetables into our kids diet, so as to increase their intake of this important food.

BUT:
Before I get into it, I want to encourage you also NOT to give up in offering them daily.
Your first goal should be to get your child to LIKE vegetables. Which he won’t learn if you always just sneak them into his food.

So my advice is:  let your kid know what is inside your dish sometimes, or even have your child help make it. ( if old enough).
Help him understand and show him that vegetables too, CAN be prepared in a tasty appealing way. 

My children, I am happy to say, eat vegetables regularly and without much fuss. I can seen though, how their preferences are shaping more and more each day, and how they might prefer this vegetables to the other…
The older they get, the more they get to decide what to eat or not. That is part of their growing.
This is OK.
As a mama, I will always want them to have that “one more spoon of broccoli” or that “one more portion of peas”, but truth is, I am pretty happy with their vegetables intake and most importantly with their ATTITUDE towards them.
They KNOW vegetables are good for them.
That is your long term GOAL.

This is, I know, thanks to the fact that I laid down for them good healthy eating habits since they were 6 months old and started solids. Actually, come to think of it, since long before…
I ate a lot of vegetables while pregnant and breastfeeding, so they already tasted different flavours and started to get USED to them way before they even held a spoon in their hand.
Then once they reached 6 months, vegetables were regularly on their plate, and always BEEN ever since.

This is of vital importance and I believe it works, so take NOTE mamas:
From the day you start your child on solids, offer VEGETABLES.
Regularly. On a daily basis.
As we know, veggies and fruits are a great first food for babies as they can be easily pureed. But while most fruits are naturally sweet in taste kids are naturally drawn to sweet tastes- and as a result of that easily accepted, VEGETABLES aren’t. For this reason IT is important to introduce them from the beginning.

Think of your child as a BLANK CANVAS at this point:
he is about to discover new flavours ( some of which he will have already experienced if you are breastfeeding), this is WHEN his preferences and tastes are shaping. So get him used to veggies straight away and don’t be disarmed if you get a refusal in the beginning. Keep offering but without FORCING.
Some kids will require 10-15 offering before they actually learn to accept and appreciate a new flavour.
This is normal.
PERSISTENCE is key.

That said, to give you a little bit peace of mind, here are some “creative ways” of increasing your child veggies INTAKE.
These are tips and ideas, I will dedicate a next post to MORE detailed recipes, but in the meantime, I am sure you can benefits from these suggestions:

 

PIZZA TIME! 
YES, that’s right! Who said pizza is not healthy, obviously always ate the wrong ones! If prepared in the right way, with the right TOPPINGS, pizza is a great meal.
I am Italian remember? I know what I am talking about ( I promise you).
What kid doesn’t like pizza right? What if I tell you that this beloved meal can be an amazing way of letting your child eat more VEGETABLES! And I am not just talking about the obvious, topping pizza with vegetables that is.
I am talking about incorporating vegetables in the tomato sauce for example, or, wait for it…..in the DOUGH itself! I bet you never though about that right? I found this recipes recently and it is a SUPER idea:
Take cauliflower florets and blitz them until they are the consistency of breadcrumbs.
Cook ten minutes stirring until all the moisture is gone.
Take the mixture and add eggs ( 1 or 2 depending on the quantity of vegetables), about 50 g of cheese and a pinch of salt.
Spread the mix on a baking tray to form a pizza base, you can use a spoon to smooth it out.
Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, it will become a solid pizza base.
Turn it over and cook for another 10 minutes.
Then spread the tomato sauce or topping of your choice.

TIp: BEFORE spreading the tomato sauce, why NOT spread some blended spinach on to the pizza base?  
Your kids will enjoy their pizza and at the same time have a great ration of vegetables . 

INCORPORATE VEGGIES INTO TOMATO SAUCES.

Both my kids love Pasta with tomato sauce. My 6 years old loves and eats raw peppers, but my three years old is not so keen on them. So one day, to please them both, I did this:
While preparing the tomato sauce, I cooked and blended peppers, ( the red and yellow type), once the tomato sauce was ready, I simply incorporated them in to it.
Easy thing to do as the colour and consistency are pretty much the same as the tomato sauce.
Then I cooked their favourite pasta: spaghetti, and MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The kids are happily eating one of their favourite meal and also vegetables!
Feel free to use your imagination here, you could incorporate grated carrots, cauliflower etc… Your choice.

TIp: anytime you prepare a pasta meal with tomato sauce, please top up with PARMESAN.
It changes everything! Not just any cheese, PARMESAN cheese.
Once your tried it you will never let it go!  

 

ADD PUMPKIN PUREE TO CEREALS OR BISCUITS!

  

PUMPKIN can seem spooky during those Halloween nights…, but they’re in fact one of the most NUTRITIOUS veggie out there. Loaded with antioxidants and disease-fighting vitamins.
Good news is, you can add them in a lot of sweet recipes thanks to their mild sweet taste.
Add pumpkin puree when baking cookies for example, muffins, cakes, pancakes…etc.
I often add pumpkin puree to our CHOCOLATE OATMEAL breakfast. And they love it!
I firstly cook the oatmeal then I start adding all sort of healthy things including pumpkin:
I usually put cinnamon, coconut oil,ground flax-seed or wheat germs, honey,chocolate chips ( not all the times), cocoa powder, and of course pumpkin puree.
You can really use your imagination with this, you can add what you like. Oatmeal is such a great healthy meal especially for breakfast, and I have been using it for ever to increase their fruit and vegetables intake.
Preparing it this way will give your children a REAL  and COMPLETE meal, full of the things their body really needs. None of that processed added sugar stuff!

POPSICLES WITH A SECRET!

Popsicles are a summer favourite and what child doesn’t like them? But the ones you find in the shop are often full of sugar and artificial ingredients.

What I am proposing here, are Popsicles with a twist! They are very easy to make at home, and contains things such as: spinach and avocado, yes, VEGETABLES!
I have named them by the colour to make it more fun. So you can have:

The orange popsicle:

  • carrots
  • frozen strawberries
  • mango
  • milk
  • a bit of water
  • honey.

The green popsicle:

  • spinach
  • apples
  • cinnamon
  • honey
  • milk

The red popsicle:

  • roasted beets ( a really super veggie)
  • strawberries
  • milk or yogurt
  • banana
  • honey

All you have to do is place the ingredient in a blender, blend until smooth and pour the mixture in to popsicles shapes.
Freeze for about 4 hours and you are ready to go! They will be a success! For these especially, I suggest you trying involving the kids in the preparation. It will be fun!
Your children will realise how vegetables can be cool too!
And if your child is a fan of SMOOTHIES, simply do not freeze and you have yourself a healthy, nutrients filled SMOOTHIE.

Tip: When I prepare the smoothies, I like to serve in transparent glasses and I sprinkle on top their favourite crunchy granola cereals.  
Presentation is the key with kids sometimes
Go crazy!  .

BREAD MEETS ZUCCHINI (COURGETTES).

This is my favourite! I love bread and so do my kids. What better way of incorporating a vegetable in this loved food. Zucchini and bread is a match made in heaven for a delicious sweet treat. Perfect for breakfast or a quick afternoon snack. Zucchini has a high content of vitamins and micro nutrients, but its flavour is not too strong, which makes it perfect for bread. You could do it as a sweet treat, or the traditional way.
Personally I often make my bread at home, and what I do, I simply add grated zucchini to my simple traditional bread recipe.
For a sweet treat there are some additional ingredients to use such as:

  • eggs,
  • milk
  • cinnamon
  • sugar
  • vanilla.

Now keep in mind, again, these are all good ways of incorporating more vegetables in your children’s diet, but your goal is to get them to eat vegetables because they WANT to.
Remember:

Set an example.
YOU are the first “maker” of your children’s eating patterns. If you do not eat healthy, how can you expect them to? Fill your house with healthy food and make it always available to them.

Involve them whenever possible in the preparation.
They will be more likely to try a veggie dish if they had a part in preparing it. They will be enthusiastic and proud!

NEVER force them to eat or finish all they have on their plate.
And this goes for all food not just vegetables. In doing so children will associate that particular food with a bad feeling and negative experience.
This will only make them pickier.

Make it a fun and positive experience.
If you manage to get them to have at least one bite of a food they reject, REWARD them. Praise them. Research shows that this will encourage a better approach towards that particular food.

Understand children’s logic.
To try to explain to young kids that vegetables are healthy and why, might be a too difficult concept for them to grasp.
But simply telling them that, that veggie will make them stronger and bigger….might just do the trick.
It worked with my boy since he was 4, as he want to be BIG and have muscles just like daddy!

Do not give up.
Keep exposing them to any vegetables or healthy food they refuse, since they start solids, because the EATING HABITS your child is forming now, will remain and continue into his adulthood.

I hope you found this post helpful. 
Please do let me know in the comments.

 

<MsW>

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2 Replies to “How to incorporate more vegetables into your children’s diet.”

    1. Hi Lydia, thanks for your comment. Did you find any useful ideas in the post? How is your daughter dealing with vegetables at the moment?

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