1) Eat them yourself! Kids will imitate those closest to them – and that’s you, especially when they’re young! If you love kale and broccoli, it’s likely that they will too.
2) Implement the “try everything once” rule. Kids can sometimes be reluctant to try new foods. When my sister’s three boys were little, she had a rule that they had to at least try everything she made. If they really hated it, they didn’t have to eat it – but more often than not they tried it (sometimes with wrinkled noses) and liked it!
3) Serve them fresh. Kids like simple foods. Serve them celery or carrot sticks, or peas right from the pod.
4) Let kids help in the kitchen. This is a great idea for so many reasons. Bonding, practicing math and reading skills, teaching them how to cook, and what it takes to prepare a meal – but most of all (for the purposes of this list!), kids usually love what they have a hand in making.
5) Dip to make it fun. Make hummus, guacamole or other fabulous dips and give kids veggies to dip into them. (A bonus way to get some beans into your kids too!)
6) Cut back the sugar. If you’re kids are sugar hounds, it’s time to cut back. When faced with a choice between a sugary treat and a piece of fruit, it’s not too hard to figure out which most children are going to pick. Just like adults, kids can be weaned off of sugar. You can change their tastebuds over time – doing it gently, and without making a big deal of it may be the best way to go. If you don’t have sugary treats around the house, and instead have bowls of fruit and lots of cut up veggies ready to go, they will eat when they’re hungry!
7) Be creative. Avoid serving frozen/canned veggies night after night – that’s what gives veggies a bad name! It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to taste good! When cooking, steam veggies lightly – be careful not to overcook them. By doing this you’ll be making sure the nutrients are going into your little ones too, not in the cooking water!
8) Teach them how to grow food. Similar to the concept of getting them to help in the kitchen. Teaching kids how to grow food is a skill that will stay with them for life, and it’s great time for bonding too. And when a child sees what it takes to grow something, they will (as we all do!) have a greater respect for it when it comes time to eat it. Plus, have you ever seen the delight on a child’s face when the first of the strawberries start to ripen?
9) Be a smoothie. Smooth parents know how to give their kids a treat while feeding them nutritiously…enter smoothies!! Smoothies taste great, and you can incorporate veggies into them without your kids even knowing (not that you should try to hide the fact that veggies taste great!)…try blending up ½ cup high quality OJ with 1 peeled orange, 4 ice cubes, 1 celery stick and 1.5-2 cups of spinach – sweet!
10) “Make your own…” nights. Kids love preparing their own food. Whenever we have our nephews over we have make your own…nights. Pizza, rice bowls, salads – there are lots of dishes you can do this way! I cut up all the ingredients and put them on the table, and the kids get to pick what they want to include. All the options are healthy, so there are no struggles. And most of all it’s fun!