Do you offer your child 5 fruits and vegetables daily? UM… Check. [?]
Key word: Offer.
Since my 3-year-old’s toddler days, she’s come a long way with veggies. She went from a very strong and adamant: not going to have anything to do with greens. To: ok, I think I like these greens after all. Which is nice. But not without effort. And today, I am going to share some of my little tidbits on how I got my 3 year old to meet her 5 a day and eat some freaking veggies already. *Disclaimer: You’re not about to read some ingenious rocket science stuff – which at one point I thought it just might be. But it’s quite the opposite actually. It’s always the simple things…
PS. This also isn’t a sneaky smoothie post if that’s what you’re thinking. This is an actual, getting them to hold, look at and eat some real freaking veggies post. Fruits too. But fruits are easy.
1. Have your child watch other kids eating veggies. Els has a friend a few years older than herself, who she completely loves and admires. This friend just so happens to LOVE broccoli. So I’m sure you can guess who now also loves broccoli.
2. When packing snacks for short outings, only pack fruits or vegetables. No alternatives. I used to pack all kinds of things – crackers, cheese, popcorn… Guess what never got eaten? The veggies. Sometimes limiting the choices makes it easier for them to eat what’s there.
3. Add spinach or kale into all your soups. I add spinach or kale into almost all my daughter’s soups. I just cut it up with my fingers into small pieces. For example, with a classic miso soup, I always add some spinach or kale. It kind of just mixes in with the seaweed, and you can’t even taste it. But you’re still not hiding it.
4. Just put it on display. Meaning, cut up some fruits or veggies and put it out on the table or wherever they are playing. Eventually, they dabble with a bite or two. Like I said, fruits are easy. But once they eat that cauliflower, you’re laughing.
5. Add some peanut or almond butter and raisins. Nothing beats good ol’ fashioned ants on a log. But don’t limit it with just celery. It works with apples, carrots, almost anything if you want them to.
6. Alternatively, add hummus. Hummus works wonders.
7. Make veggies into baked chips. Kale chips are amazing. But so are parsnip chips, carrot chips and beet chips. All it takes is a little olive oil and pinch of salt.
8. Change things up. For example, when steaming veggies, try adding a little bit of salt, sesame oil and sesame seeds. It gives a great nutty flavor. Sometimes all it takes is a change from the everyday.
9. Experiment with unusual concoctions that work. Putting edamame beans inside raspberries. Scooping cantaloupe with a teaspoon and placing it on top of sliced cucumbers. Wrapping carrot sticks with seaweed. Sounds kind of weird, but it’s not. As a kid, I loved eating apples with salt and vinegar chips. People thought it was so weird, but I loved it. Still do! I’m actually still a huge fan of unusual conglomerating. Like kimchi and pasta. Grapes and almonds. Mac and cheese with fish and radish. Brown rice with cheese and pickles. I could go on and on…
10. And last but not least, just cut it up differently. Dice, chop, long strips, thin strips, shapes (if you can), it makes a difference. Kids get excited with the simplest things… Seriously, I once gave Els a whole carrot and she went nuts. It was like the greatest thing ever for her.
*Carrots are choking hazards. Always supervise small children and chop into smaller pieces. As are grapes.*
Also don’t forget to check out your local farmer’s market. Buying seasonal and local fruits are so tasty. And there’s so much to sample… I love samples. As does Els.