When it comes to eating veggies kids can be the last ones to get on board.
Lets face it, broccoli and celery aren't the most exciting thing ever and can seem bland to a kiddo.
I remember as a kid being forced to sit at the table until all my food was gone. What was usually left over was the over cooked mushy broccoli or squash. I'm not sure if it was the texture, the flavor, or if I was just picky, I just did not want to eat my veggies. So lets just say I spent a lot of extra time sitting at the dinner table growing up. But look at me now!
What I'm saying is...kids, I get it! And I am here to help.
Being a mum who is raising her kid vegan, despite all the outside influences and unhealthy food options all around, I have been successful in making sure my child's nutritional needs are met while her tummy and taste buds are happy. She truly enjoys her veggies and all the healthy food we prepare. Just last week we made rainbow veggie rolls with an almond tahini dipping sauce and my husband and eight year old daughter were fighting over who got the last one. I suppose I should have made more!
Here are a few tips to help your kids incorporate more veggies into their diets.
1. Make is fun.
Did you ever make pancakes as a kid and your mom made Micky Mouse shaped ones or put chocolate chips in the shape of a smiley face? It made pancakes so much more fun to eat and made for some special memories right? So why not do this with the veggies you serve your kids? Maybe you make some avocado toast and put cucumber eyes and a bell pepper mouth. Maybe let them decorate their own and place the veggies on themselves.
Start small and slowly add more veggies with time.
2. Don't force it.
Let your children make the choices. Yup! you heard right.
You're probably thinking "If I let my kids choose their food they would pick pizza and candy". Obviously we have to draw the line somewhere, but when eating your veggies is associated with sitting at the dinner table for hours starring down a vegetable they didn't pick, trust me, it won't make your kids want to eat more of them.
Instead provide two or more options for them to chose from. No I'm not asking you to cook two to three separate meals just so they have a choice. Been there, done that. Who has the time? For example let's say you are making veggie wraps and you have chopped assorted fresh veggies to put inside. Let your children choose their two favorites.
In doing this they have made sort of an agreement that they will eat it by making the choices of veggies for themselves.
3. Don't forget the dip. This is my favorite tip by far because it works almost 100% of the time. Kids love to dip. So whip up a delicious sauce, chop some veggies or make some wraps, and watch the magic happen. Another idea for you along the same lines is doing "build your own taco" night. Start with some romaine hearts for the "tortilla" and add salsa, beans, rice, avocado, some of your favorite veggies, and maybe top with some sprouts and cashew sour cream, and vualah!
This is one of my daughter's favorite meals because she has control over what goes on her taco. When all the toppings are healthy she can add on whatever she wants and as much as she wants.
4. Monkey see monkey do. Make sure you are leading by example. When you are eating chips it's going to be all too easy for your kids to also want chips. But if you are eating veggies and dip maybe, just maybe, they might want some too. Weather we are aware of it or not our children are watching us and picking up our habits.
5. Blend it. The easiest way to get kids to eat their greens is to blend them into a smoothie. If you do it right they wont even taste it. This last summer my nephews came to visit and they weren't quite used to how we ate. At first they weren't open to the idea of food without meat or cheese and spinach in their smoothies was just unheard of. One day my husband made a fruit smoothie and had the base of it be spinach. Unaware of the ingredients my nephews gave it a taste and absolutely loved it! They were shocked and couldn't believe it had over 5 cups of spinach in it. The next morning when I was making a breakfast smoothie one of my nephews (who is 7) asked if I could please add spinach to it so that we could share. This was such a happy moment for me. If you want to take your smoothie game to the next level you can make smoothie bowls and add some toppings. Again, let the kids choose their healthy toppings.
Below are a few recipes for you to try that have worked for myself and many of my friends.
Cashew Nacho Cheeze
1 cup soaked cashews
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp red onion
1 tsp liquid aminos or soy sauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp sea salt
Soak the cashews in luke warm water for 2 hours.
Add all ingredients in a high speed blender or Nutribullet and blend until
completely smooth and no visible texture. Add more water to achieve desired consistency.
Chop up some veggies and dip away!
Another way to use this sauce would be to create a salad bowl and use the nacho cheeze as the sauce. Yum!
P.B. & J.
1/2 cup spinach
1 cup frozen strawberries or blackberries
2 tbsp dry fit peanut butter or 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
dash of cinnamon
1 cup sweetened almond milk or apple juice
Blend in a high speed blender until creamy and smooth.
To make it fun for the kids you can lessen the amount of milk to make it thicker and pour the smoothie into a bowl. Slice up some fresh fruit and let the kids top and decorate their own bowl.
Lettuce Boat Tacos:
2 heads of romaine hearts (taco shells)
1cup soaked sun dried tomatoes
1 cup soaked sunflower seeds
½ juiced lemon
¼ cup red onion
1 clove minced garlic
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
2 tsp amino acids
¼ tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Soak the sunflower seeds for 2 hours.
Drain the sunflower seeds and add all the ingredients into a food processor.
Blend until thick and slightly chunky leaving a bit of texture.
Cashew Sour Cream:
1 cup soaked cashews
2/3 cup water
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp sea salt
Soak the cashews for 2-4 hours. This helps to soften, activate, and create a better texture.
Drain the cashews and add all the ingredients to a high speed blender.
Blend until completely smooth.
Optional taco toppings:
chopped bell pepper