Vegetable hacks for parents with fussy little eaters
As parents, we want our kids to be eating the healthiest food possible, but getting vegetables into them is often easier said than done. Check out our hacks for encouraging fussy little eaters to branch out and eat the rainbow.
● Serve a vege platter pre dinner - I find that my kids are most hungry around that late afternoon/pre dinner time, I make the most of this by cutting up a whole bunch of veges such as carrots, cucumber, capsicum, and tomatoes, and letting them get stuck in. This also takes the pressure off them eating all their veges at dinner time.
● Grow vegetables at home - Including kids in the process of growing vegetables in your garden can make a big difference to them wanting to eat them. When they learn about where food comes from and the process of farm or garden to table they are often more interested in, and excited to eat it. If you don’t have a garden, visiting farms or going to farmer markets to buy local produce is another idea. Letting kids take part in cooking and preparing meals will also make fussy eaters more likely to eat veges.
● Make food fun - Food play, for example, carrot and potato printing or making broccoli trees to hide dinosaurs in can create positive associations with vegetables. Reading stories featuring different foods, or watching cartoons or TV shows that feature their favourite characters eating adventurously can also encourage them to branch out with their eating. Making faces or animal shapes out of veges also adds some fun!
● Get creative - Aka hide vegetables in meals or smoothies. While some children may happily drink a green smoothie, others may be put off by the colour. In this instance you could add ingredients such as cacao to make it a chocolate smoothie – ideal veges to add in here would be spinach, kale, mint, or avocado. Bolognese is also a great one for hiding vegetables in – the trick is grating or very finely chopping so that they go undetected by small inspectors. Veges such as kumara, carrot, zucchini, and greens work well with bolognese. Baking is another smart (and sneaky) way of hiding vegetables, try chocolate zucchini muffins, or carrot cake.
● Don’t forget the dip - Vegetables are a lot more appealing for little people (and big people too, really) when they’re served with a dip. Hummus, guacamole, or pesto make perfect accompaniments for vege sticks.
● Turn them into chips - maybe it’s the crunch, or the shape, but turning vegetables into chips can make them a lot more exciting. Try making kumara, parsnip, beetroot, or kale chips in the oven.
● Serve them frozen - It’s a strange phenomenon, but many children seem to love frozen vegetables. My kids will happily chow down a bowl full of peas and beans when frozen, but not cooked. Whatever works, right!
● Pesto everything - In our house, pesto is a staple. It doesn’t have to be a traditional recipe, you can really add in whatever you like when making it at home. We often add other greens such as spinach with the basil to get an extra boost of veges in. This can then be stirred through pasta, used as pizza sauce, on sandwiches, or as a dip for vege sticks.