Believe it or not, it is possible to raise kids who like eating a wide variety of vegetables. The secret is to never bribe or threaten them about eating green or orange things. Just follow as many of these simple steps as you can.
— Enjoy a variety of vegetables yourself
The most important thing that adults can do for children’s eating is to model healthy habits. If you enjoy eating a wide variety of foods, including vegetables, children will see that as the normal thing to do. There’s no need to make a big deal about your enjoyment, just make vegetables a tasty part of every meal. If you eat vegetables, so will your children.
— Grow a vegetable garden
Most adults know there’s nothing better than the taste of freshly picked vegetables. Kids love to pick and eat almost anything that they have grown themselves. There is more than one way to grow your own fresh vegetables. You could use a container on the porch. If you have space, dig up a backyard plot. If you can’t do this, take your children with you to the grocery store or farmer’s market. Let them help you pick out the vegetables to buy.
— Cut up vegetables for meals and snacks
Children usually like the taste and texture of raw vegetables better than cooked ones. Serve a small plate of bite sized vegetables at every meal. Try broccoli florets, baby carrots, celery sticks, cucumber slices, sweet pepper pieces or sugar snap pea pods. Add some low-fat Ranch dip. Kids will naturally get into a crunchy, healthy habit.
— Serve bright, colorful vegetables
Everyone eats with their eyes first. Children and adults will find bright and colorful vegetables more appealing. Overcooked, mushy vegetables are likely to turn everyone off. When cooking vegetables, keep them brightly colored and crunchy in texture. The best way to do this is to steam or microwave them for just a few minutes.
— Be adventurous with vegetables
When children see vegetables as tasty and fun, they are much more likely to enjoy eating them. Buy new items and try new recipes. These are some easy ways to make nutrition fun for children. Need ideas for making vegetables more adventurous in your kitchen? Visit www.foodchamps.org for recipes, games, coloring sheets and more!
Source: N.C. Department of Health and Human Services
Vegetable Rice Medley
3 cups water
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium chicken bouillon granules
1 ½ cups uncooked brown rice
2 medium green peppers, cubed
2 cups fresh cauliflower, chopped
2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped
¾ cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons canola oil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
In a large saucepan, bring the water, soy sauce and bouillon to a boil. Stir in rice. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 45 – 50 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. In a large nonstick skillet, sauté the green peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, onion and garlic in oil until crisp-tender. Stir vegetables and thyme into rice mixture. Serves 7.
Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-862-4591.