1. Start early. Several years ago, I was reading an article about healthy snacks for kids where they mentioned hummus. Comments from parents ranged from “great idea” to “what kid eat hummus?” My first thought was “my kid eats hummus”. I fully attribute this to our early introduction of hummus, along with other foods that kids haven’t traditionally eaten like quinoa, lentils, couscous, and beans. We were just feeding our daughter (and now our son) what our family eats. We didn’t make separate meals for them. And for us, it worked. Both of our kids eat a lot of different healthy foods.
2. Be the example. If you aren’t eating veggies, your kids probably won’t either. Put them on the menu for every lunch and dinner. This point was recently proven to me when my daughter was playing house and said “I need a Coke. That’s what mommies drink.” Ugh. If you’ve been reading MGG for long, you know I have a love-hate addiction to Coke. Obviously it’s a bit on the “I love you so much, how do I survive without you?” side right now.
3. Sneak them in. When I was making pureed food for our infant, I thought it would be so easy to sneak those pureed fruits and veggies into our meals for added doses of healthiness. I’m not the genius who came up with this idea, there are plenty of cookbooks that have great suggestions on how to do this like Deceptively Delicious and The Sneaky Chef.
4. Prepare ahead. One of my personal goals for 2010 was to eat more veggies myself. I figured if they were easily available throughout the day, I would snack on them. So between buying pre-cut veggies and spending time cutting veggies into bite-sized chunks, I put them in glass storage so I would see them every time I opened the refrigerator. I did begin to eat more of them until I came up with #5 below.
5. Leave them out. Because our fruit is stored on the counter, it gets eaten quickly. I figured the same would happen with veggies so I started putting them in pretty glass dishes around the kitchen and living room. This is my current method of extra veggie consumption and it totally works. Both the kids and I are snacking on carrots and tomatoes many times a day.
6. Grow your own. With your own backyard garden, kids are bound to be curious. My daughter (and friends) love to comb the garden to see what they can pick fresh off the vine. Your garden can be as simple as a tomato plant in a container – that is how I started several years ago. Each summer, I try to plant something new so we can practice our gardening skills and expand our taste buds.
7. Get creative. When I was a child, I would often come home from school to a message on the counter spelling out ‘I Love You’ in chocolate chips. Of course, we swallowed them as fast as we could. Although she used chocolate, the theory could apply to veggies, too. Here are some great ideas resembling Sesame Street characters with veggies like corn, radish, peas, spinach, tomatoes and carrots.
How do YOU sneak more veggies into your family’s diet?