One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to add more vegetables to my family’s diet (Surefire Ways to Stick to your Fitness Resolutions).
Even though we already do eat quite a bit, I think it certainly can’t hurt to eat more. My thinking is- the more veggies we eat, the less sugary, bad stuff we eat.
If you have a toddler in your home, I’m sure you are aware that this is no easy task. Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters. W may be a perfectly fine eater at the moment, but I know picky times may be up ahead.
Picky eating is most common between ages 2-6 (source: Kids Eat Right).
It can be very frustrating when bread is the only thing your toddler has any interest in consuming.
Oftentimes, the dog is the only one who seems to be munching on the veggies you worked so hard to peel/chop/roast.
So, in order to avoid over-feeding your dog, I came up with a list on How to get your Toddler to eat More Veggies.
How to get your Toddler to eat More Veggies: Part I
1. Treat veggies like any other food
It can be very tempting to shout out and yell for joy when your stubborn toddler finally puts a green bean in his mouth. Don’t do it! Instead, play it cool.
Whatever. You think you’re a big shot because you ate a green bean? So what? Okay, maybe you don’t have to play it that cool.
When you react overjoyed and shocked when your toddler eats a vegetable, you are essentially telling them that veggies are different from other foods. It’s a big deal and hard work to eat vegetables. Your toddler might start to think, huh, they are really making a big deal over these peas. Maybe I shouldn’t eat them after all.
2. Add to favorite foods
W loves eggs. We eat them most mornings. I started throwing a bunch of different veggies (e.g. peppers, spinach, onions, tomatoes, etc.) in with the eggs since I know he loves them so much. At first, especially with spinach, he would pick out the veggie and continue on eating his eggs as happy as can be. Gradually, I noticed him eating more and more of the veggies. Now, he eats them all up (5 Easy Egg Dishes for Kids).
Is there a chance he will go back to avoiding or picking out the vegetables? Definitely. That won’t stop me from continuing to put them in there. If your child is the type that will refuse to even look at their favorite food with visible veggies present, try sneaking them in.
- I add spinach to my meatballs and carrots and celery to my tomato sauce (I use Giada’s easy Tomato Sauce).
- You can try shredding zucchini into rice (Here’s a simple recipe from Divas Can Cook).
- Blend butternut squash into a cheese sauce for mac and cheese (Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese)
- Got a meat-eater? Wrap asparagus in prosciutto (Try this recipe from Chow).
- Add mushrooms and arugula or tomatoes and basil to an ordinary grilled cheese sandwich (Here are some gourmet grilled cheese ideas from Greatist).
3. Make a smoothie
This is an easy way to add vegetables to your toddler’s diet. I found this awesome graphic from Pinterest.
4. A meal is not a meal without a veggie
If you stick to this motto, you are sure to increase the amount of vegetables your toddler eats. I make sure that we have some kind of vegetable during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t be afraid to stray from traditional meal time foods. Do you always have to eat cereal, eggs, bacon and pancakes during breakfast time? No! We will often have green beans as a side to our eggs and cucumbers as a side to our oatmeal. Sometimes we just eat leftovers from dinner.
5. Mix it up
It’s easy to fall into a rut of making the same vegetables over and over again. Maybe there is another vegetable out there that your toddler will like besides the broccoli that you keep forcing on him. Make a special trip to the farmer’s market and pick out a yummy, different vegetable to try together. Lauren from Oh, Honestly and Kristen from Mommy in Sports have a great series on trying new foods with their children called, One New Food.
- Spaghetti squash tastes a lot like pasta (9 Healthy Spaghetti Squash Recipes from Greatist)
- Maybe you could try painting with beets before you eat them (Easy Beet Soup).
- I grab purple sweet potatoes whenever I see them because they are absolutely delicious!! ‘
- I also like buying broccolini instead of broccoli to switch things up a bit.
- Here are some more weird and unusual vegetables you may have not tried from HellaWella.
6. Make the veggie the “star” of the dish
Unless you’re a vegetarian, the protein often steals the show when it comes to planning meals. I used to think of what type of meat or fish I wanted then planned the side dishes. Vegetables were more of an afterthought. Instead, try making a dish with the vegetable in mind first, then add in the protein and starch. I like to try vegetarian or vegan meals at least once a week. Black bean burgers are a big hit in my house.
- Black bean burgers (My family loved this recipe from Healthy Meals in Minutes).
- Zucchini, Pepper and White Bean salad
- Pomegranate Quinoa Salad
- Quesadillas are an easy way to add lots of veggies. Be sure to throw some black beans in there for protein.
- I often make vegetarian pastas. W loved one I made with a pesto sauce made with spinach and kale.
- You can also check out 29 Meatless Meals that are not pasta from Buzzfeed.
Want more tips? Keep reading on How to get your Toddler to eat More Veggies: PART 2!