Getting your toddler to eat vegetables can be difficult. Some children love new foods and vegetables, while others may require more exposure or different preparations.
Vegetables not only provide important nutrients for growth and development but introducing them to your children at a young age can help them become more well-rounded eaters in the future.
Have you ever tried to offer your children fruits and vegetables and they simply refused? You can help your children get the nutrition they need by selecting kid-friendly vegetables, cooking simply, and hiding vegetables.
Starting with Kid-Friendly Vegetables
Select sweeter vegetables. Carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes have a sweeter flavour than many of the vegetables that children will not eat (like broccoli, bitter gourd). Given that children are genetically predisposed to prefer sweeter foods, it makes sense, to begin with, the sweetest vegetables. You can even add some honey to carrots or jaggery to sweet potatoes to make them sweeter.
Select non-leafy vegetables.
Children are also genetically programmed to avoid vegetables that resemble leafy plants. Cutting, dicing, and blending can help mask the leafiness, but starting with pumpkin or peas can help get things started.
Slowly introduce bitter vegetables.
Some people are more sensitive to bitterness than others. This is especially true in children, and sensitivity diminishes with age. So, starting with kid-friendly vegetables and gradually introducing more difficult ones can pique a child’s interest (especially if you make it a point to show them your enjoyment of the vegetables).
Don’t combine a lot of vegetables in one dish.
Starting with no more than one or two vegetables in a single dish will make the vegetables more appealing. Introduce more complex dishes gradually. For example, if you know your child enjoys broccoli, combine it with a smooth pasta sauce and pasta to create a more balanced meal. If you know your child dislikes pepper, don’t add it. The sauce may not entirely mask the taste or texture.
In soft or liquid dishes, only use completely disguised/blended vegetables. You can blend the vegetables into the dal and mix it with soft rice and serve it as Khichri.
While hiding vegetables can be a real solution, avoid hiding crunchy, flavorful vegetables that a child dislikes in a soft dish like stuffing. While they may be perfectly willing to eat the stuffing, chomping on an onion may cause them to reconsider eating the dish again. The same is true for sauces. Any expressed dislike for a vegetable due to texture that has not been properly blended will most likely result in a reaction similar to eating the vegetable alone.
Slowly add vegetables with unusual textures.
Children are more sensitive to food textures than adults. Kids (and adults) can be sensitive to food textures, whether it’s sliminess or a “wet-crunch.” Choosing soft, but not slimy, or pleasantly crisp vegetables (such as carrots) can make vegetables more appealing to children.
Include a simple flavour enhancer that kids will enjoy.
Broccoli can be made more appealing by adding lemon juice or cheese. Cooked carrots can be enhanced with honey. In any case, they are more likely to try vegetables seasoned with flavours they enjoy.
Dips can be an excellent way to get kids to eat fresh, crunchy vegetables like carrots or cucumber. Plain hummus can also be used to make a nutritious and kid-friendly dip. Peanut butter can also help kids eat more vegetables. Carrots and peanut butter can make for a tasty snack.
Make Parathas with vegetables. This dish is not only delicious, but it is also nutritious if you use fresh vegetables. If your recipe contains too many carbs, this may need to be an occasional rather than a regular snack. Sweet potato Paratha, on the other hand, is an excellent source of many essential nutrients for children.
Make a sweet but vegetable-filled smoothie.
With the proper proportions, you can use this to incorporate some of the more difficult vegetables into your children’s diets. Spinach and kale are simple to incorporate. It is critical to consume enough sweet fruits or honey to counteract the bitterness of the greens. It will be more difficult to mask vegetables with strong flavours, such as onions and garlic.
Prepare a completely blended soup.
Many children struggle with both texture and flavour. By blending vegetables that children typically dislike due to their texture, you can incorporate flavours that children enjoy. When it’s just the texture that’s an issue, kids will often eat the vegetable in another form and refuse to eat it raw or unblended.
Incorporate vegetables subtly into a recipe that children enjoy.
With cheese dishes, it’s easy to sneak a vegetable in without the kids noticing. For example, if you’re making homemade pasta sauce, you can incorporate vegetables alongside the tomatoes. Then your children will enjoy the pasta while getting the vitamins and minerals they require.
Make the vegetable appear to be something else.
Making the vegetable look like another tasty snack can sometimes make it more appealing. Whether you disguise cauliflower as mashed potatoes or carrots as fries, kids will likely prefer these versions over others. You might even find a tastier alternative for yourself.
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Getting the Kids Involved in Increasing Vegetable Consumption
Plant a vegetable garden with the kids. Growing a garden together can provide physical activity as well as a sense of ownership over the vegetables your children consume. Choose vegetables you know they’ll like, or let them choose seeds or plants. With time and encouragement, children may come to appreciate even more vegetables, as well as the time spent growing, picking, and preparing vegetables from your garden.
Peas, potatoes, and cabbage are examples of easy-to-grow vegetables.
Bring the kids with you to the grocery store.
Even if you don’t have time to plant a garden, you can take your children to the supermarket. Allow them to select one or two vegetables that they believe they will enjoy. This will give your children the impression that they have some say over the foods prepared at home.
Cooking vegetables with the kids is a fun activity.
Cooking can get kids excited about trying new vegetables, especially if they get to choose the recipes. Keep a few colourful cookbooks on hand with lots of easy veggie recipes. That way, the kids will feel as if they have a plethora of healthy vegetable recipes to choose from.
Continue to try.
It’s okay to keep trying even if it seems difficult to get kids to eat enough vegetables. It may take up to 15-20 tries for a child to accept a new food. Don’t be concerned if they only like a couple of vegetables at first. Each vegetable added is a victory, and with encouragement, they will also become a healthy eater.
Mamy Poko Pants understands the trying time you can have as a Mum. Getting kids to eat their vegetables is not an easy task. That’s why we stand by you to make your life easier in other ways. When your baby is happy and dry in Mamy Poko Pants, you will feel a little less hassled. After meals, don’t forget to use Mamy Poko Wipes to clean up your little one. Good luck to Mums and Happy Meal Times.