Kids tastebud’s are a real mystery sometimes. They’ll try anything from grass to sand but put a plate of healthy greens on the table and they run faster than Usain Bolt. Before you throw in the towel, try these 5 ideas for getting more veggies in your kids diet.
Start a rewards system
Let’s be clear here - we’re not telling you to bribe your kids. It’s not as simple as eat this broccoli and I’ll buy you a racecar bed. But positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for parents and teaching your kids how to work towards long-term goals is important. Set up a wall chart and use star or smiley stickers for a fun way to track their progress. For example they earn 1 sticker for eating a serve or their favourite veggies and 2 stickers if they try something new. A backyard trampoline is a big and fun reward for them to work towards and it’s also a good way to get your kids moving with some incidental exercise. You’ll be amazed by how interested in new flavours your kids become when they know it brings them closer to something they truly want.
Be a good role model
Becky Gilhespie from Eat What We Eat says repetition and leading by example are key.
“Getting kids to eat more veggies can be accomplished in 2 ways:
1. Let them see you eat them
The reason why they don't is that they are unsure of what they like and what they don't like. By seeing the same vegetable offered to them several times it will eventually make it normal. We are their ultimate role models (even if they don't show this sometimes!) and they will eventually follow suit by watching you do something. One thing you must NEVER do? Push them to eat. This will have the opposite effect.”
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Make veggie alternatives for their favourite foods
JR Fletcher, a nutritionist from Nutritiontastic, suggests using veggies to mimic your kids favourite foods.
“With creative use of color, texture and design in food, it is surprising how much more receptive a kid can be to their veggies! Have a child who just loves their french fries? Try cutting up some carrots to look like crinkled french fries prepared with a little thyme seasoning and no salt as a healthier alternative.
Kids love to grab bite-sized cakes, however too much pastry is unhealthy. A quick and convenient way to serve a healthy type of cake to your young one is by using fiber-enriched flour, an egg, a little water and your choice of shredded vegetables as ingredients. Fiber-based flour carries the healthy nutrients which regular white flour is stripped of, the egg carries protein and the vegetables carry valuable macronutrients. As a result, you will have the recipe for a cake which is tasty and packs the important vegetable content your child needs.”
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A recipe for success
Brittnay Sharman from The Nut Butter Hub has plenty of great recipes using veggies for kids. Here’s one for Crispy KFC Popcorn Cauliflower that’s sure to impress.
- 1 head of cauliflower cut into bite sized florets
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 2 Large Eggs Whisked
- 1 Tsp Smoky Paprika
- 1 Tsp Garlic Salt
1. Preheat oven to 200C. Dip cauliflower pieces in egg and then roll in panko until fully coated and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You will need to use your fingers to press on the coating to help it to stick to the cauliflower bites. Repeat until all - cauliflower is coated.
2. Bake for about 20 minutes or until coating is a dark golden brown and crunchy.
3. While the cauliflower is cooking make the sauce. Add the Hoisin to the Greek Yogurt and stir until combined, chill when finished.
Sauce; 1/2 Cup Greek Yoghurt 2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
Combine & chill until ready to eat.
Don’t bother hiding them
Wellness coach and nutritionist Jenny Boss, from Jenny Boss Nutrition, doesn’t believe in ‘sneaking’ veggies onto your kids plates.
“Getting vegetables into your children any which way you can by hiding them in other foods seems to makes sense, but only if you’re transparent about it.
What doesn’t work is when kids get mixed message about their meals. This can happen when they find you’ve snuck vegetables into their favourite food, which doesn't normally contain these hidden 'nasties'. They may wonder how often you’ve been doing this, and this erosion of trust can spell bad news for future meals.
Try this instead:
1. Let your child learn about the different tastes and textures of vegetables, even if they only take a small amount.
2. Vary how you present veggies. Your kids may prefer sweet potato baked as chips rather than mashed, raw carrots more than cooked, roasted cauliflower over steamed.
3 If your child asks you, tell them what’s in the food, whether that’s black beans in brownies, zucchini in muffins, or vegetables in cheese fritters. They will learn about the different forms veggies can take, and how they can taste very different.”
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Take it one step at a time and we think you’ll have your kids trying brussel sprouts in no time.