Tired of seeing broccoli left untouched on your child’s plate? It can be extremely frustrating when, try as you may, their love for kale just isn’t happening. Don’t despair just yet – skip the bribery and nagging and try these 5 proven ways that can help get your kids to eat- even enjoy- vegetables.
Play the Name Game
A study done by Brian Wansink, researcher at Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating, found that children ate twice as many vegetables when they were labeled “X-ray vision carrots” and “power peas,” as opposed to simply “carrots” and “peas.” Think of fun names your kids can relate to or challenge them to creatively name the veggie of the day.
Cook with Them
The Cookshop program in NYC found that when you teach kids about vegetables and give them hands on experience in preparing and cooking them, they are more likely to eat bigger portions. Start at the shopping phase and bring your cooks along to the Farmer’s market, or better yet, plant your own garden at home. Assign them age appropriate tasks in the kitchen to get them involved.
A study by Dr. Barbara Rolls, researcher at Penn State and author of The Volumetrics Diet, showed that adding a substantial amount of pureed vegetables into all of the main dishes of the day increased veggie intake by 100% in 3-5 year olds. Try mixing pureed butternut squash into mac and cheese, pureed cauliflower into mashed potatoes or pumpkin puree into pancake or muffin batter.
Recipe: Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
Rolls also found that when kids are offered a greater variety of vegetables on their plates, they automatically eat more vegetables overall. Don’t just serve one veggie at meals, but offer 2 different ones.
If your kids love hummus or ranch dressing, that just may be your golden ticket to getting them to eat their vegetables. A recent study showed that only 31% of kids reported liking a vegetable alone, but when paired with dip, 64% approved. Cut up several veggies and serve with their favorite dip as an afternoon snack.
Recipe: Yogurt Ranch Dressing