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Today's Family Magazine

Sneaky ways to get kids to eat vegetables

By Sarah Lyons

As a mom of three toddlers, I understand the challenge of getting your kids to eat vegetables on a daily basis.  It is recommended that kids eat three servings of vegetables per day.  This may seem like quite a feat, especially if your child has declared crackers and chicken nuggets to be their main source of nutrition.  Here are some simple ways to sneak veggies into your child’s diet.  Who knows?  Maybe you will end up eating more vegetables too.

Hide it
With a little planning you can easily hide veggies in almost all your child’s favorite foods. Zucchini can be finely grated into spaghetti sauce, taco meat, or sloppy joes. Pureed carrots can be disguised in macaroni and cheese and cooked and mashed  cauliflower can be easily hidden in mashed potatoes or potato soup.

Offer it
I received a covered vegetable tray as a gift and decided to fill it with the carrots, celery, bell peppers, and cauliflower that were just sitting in my refrigerator.  I began to set the veggie tray out at meal time and during snacks and to my pleasant surprise, my kids started to eat them.  They ate so many I had to fill the tray again and again.  Add some hummus, ranch or dill dip, or peanut butter and they will be even more likely to dig in.  This will help cut down on the “Can I have a snack?” questions and you’ll know they are getting a nutritious option instead.

Blend it
Kids love smoothies because they are delicious and fun to eat.  Vegetables like spinach and kale can be blended into smoothies or yogurt without changing the taste.  Offer a fun cup to drink out of or buy your own refillable squeeze pouches or yogurt sleeves to encourage kids to drink their hidden veggie smoothies in ways that they are familiar with.

Bake it
Kids rarely turn down a sweet treat and it is easy to sneak veggies in without them even noticing. Zucchini and carrots can be baked into quick breads, muffins, cakes and cookies and you will receive little to no complaints.

Model it
Our actions speak louder than our words.  When kids see their parents eating veggies on a regular basis they are more likely to do so as well. Modeling a healthy diet and exercise for your kids will help them learn to do the same.

Prepare it
Kids are much more likely to try new foods when they do the preparation themselves.  Get the kids involved in the kitchen and have them choose vegetables to add to their menu.  You can also try planting a garden in your own backyard.  When kids grow and prepare their own food they are much more likely to eat it because they have ownership in the project.

Don’t give up
It may seem like your kids will never break the routine of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and crackers but don’t give up.  Exposure makes them more likely to try new foods, even vegetables. 

Sarah Lyons is a freelance writer and stay at home mom to six kids, including 3-year-old triplets.

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