9 Easy ideas to get kids eating their veggies
Any parent with a little one who’d rather eat dirt than veggies knows how traumatising dinner time can be. Which is why we’re sharing these awesome and super clever ‘eat your veg with a smile’ tricks!
By Franki Hobson
Practical Parenting Reviews Editor / February 05 2019
Many a mum will be toasting the return to school (oh come on, school holidays are hard work and exhausting, admit it!). But then comes the next challenge – the school drop/work day/dinner time routine. Seriously, who has time to get through the day only to get home, prepare a full meal from scratch and spend an hour negotiating with the kids to ‘Pleasssssse EAT THOSE DAMN VEGGIES!”
I have a 10-year-old, Maxwell, who will nibble the end off his broccoli and spread the corn kernels around the plate and claim he’s ‘done’. And then there’s my toddler – 17-month-old Louis, who, while he loves his vegetables, thinks it’s awesome fun to throw the mash potato at the windows to communicate he too is ‘done!’
So if, like me, you are time poor and ‘done’ with disastrous dinner time antics and fussy foodies, read on.
The wonderfully creative accredited nutritionist and HelloFresh Head of Culinary, Hannah Gilbert, has some ripper tips to get even the fussiest eaters to enjoy veggies at dinner time, lunch time … any time!
1. Now watch me dip
- Swap out crackers for carrot and cucumber sticks or snow peas for a nutritious snack with dip. There are plenty of delicious varieties of hummus, beetroot and spinach-based dips that can help you sneak in even more nutrition under their little noses.
FRANKI’S TIP: The sooner you introduce a wide variety of fruit and veg to your little one, the faster their palette will acquire a taste to ‘healthy options’. Tell nan and pop to save their biscuits for later…
2. Serve up salad on the table, on the reg
The opposite of hiding in plain sight, always have a big bowl of yummy salad on the table. It gets kids used to the idea of veggies as being fundamental to every meal, and if you put it out 10 minutes before dinner is ready, they might even start picking at it!
3. A Cinderella Story
If you have young children try telling a story at dinner. Shiny red apples were suddenly more appealing when you considered their power in Snow White. Jack and the Beanstalk persuaded me to try beans as kid, even if it was only so I could weed out a magical one. Inject a bit of imagination into vegetables and you’d be surprised at the appeal they may start to hold for your children.
4. The “try it” rule
Make a new house rule. Everyone in the house – kids and adults – must have at least one significant bite of something, even if it’s not their favourite. Don’t get discouraged if your child doesn’t like it the first, second or even the ninth time; practice makes perfect! More competitive kids may even be spurred on to take a shine to eggplant before their siblings do.
5. Practice what you preach
There’s just no getting around it: if you enjoy vegetables sincerely, it will rub off on your kids. Instead of making the meat the hero of every dish, try making veggies shine in a meal once a week – rather than just a side. Although hiding them may seem to be the answer, making them seem just as exciting as other food, can be just as effective.
6. Fruit salad, kids?
Make a delicious fruit salad and add some veggies to it. Sweeter ones are easier to incorporate, like fresh corn or snow peas, but we also love capsicum for amazing colour, celery or cucumber for crunch or a really ripe juicy tomato (try it with watermelon, you’d be surprised!). Cut up all the fruit and veg into roughly the same size and don’t be afraid to happily admit a vegetable is in there if they ask. You could even turn this into a game – how many fruits and vegetables can you find?
7. Don’t make a fuss
If your kids don’t like something, don’t make a big deal out of it. Try it again in a different way another time. Steamed Brussel sprouts might be a no-no, but maybe roasted with pumpkin next time will win them over. The more times you try with different veggies, the more everyday it becomes. Before you know, the kids will be gobbling up their greens before anything else on the plate!
8. Word it differently
When you say words like “healthy” and “good for you” to a child, it doesn’t really have the same impact that it has on adults. Try telling them about the vegetable, where it came from, how it grows and how it got to Australia. Kids love a good story, so if you can get them to love the story… they’re way more likely to try it. Even better - try growing it!
9. Get the kids involved in the cooking
Involving your kids in the prepping of a meal can have really positive results. Fun ways to engage kids and encourage healthy eating could include chopping up herbs and vegetables, washing the vegetables, picking the leaves off herbs and mixing the ingredients.
ABOUT: Hannah Gilbert is the Head of Culinary at HelloFresh, Australia’s leading meal kit provider, which offers a family plan filled with fresh, natural ingredients and delicious twists on classic dishes. HelloFresh also offer many convenient solutions like meal prepping as well as providing professional tried-and-tested recipe cards with pre-portioned ingredients. So you have more time to focus on the fun stuff – like preparing a wholesome, homemade meal everyone can enjoy.