Kid’s Nutrition: 5 Ways to Take the “Yuck” Out of Eating Vegetables

by Jodie Block on 04/30/2012

As your kids grow, you want them to develop with a healthy relationship with food, to learn how to make the right choices, and to thrive as a result. And chances are what your kids want is another serving of French fries to go with their hot dog. Sound about right? Well, getting your kids engaged in the selection and preparation of family meals is a great way to increase their interest in food and healthy eating. Plus, it’s a great way to spend more quality time together!  Here are five easy tips to get your kids involved:

#1 – Bring your kids to the market with you and teach them how to shop

Knowledge is power, so put the power in their hands. Show your kids how to choose the freshest, ripest produce, and your kids will have a sense of pride and accomplishment when their selections show up on the dinner table. Teach them how to find the heaviest citrus, or the tightest clusters of broccoli, or the dark green cucumbers. By teaching them how to select the produce, it may just open their eyes to how fun cooking…and eating healthy…can be.  For a guide to picking the best fruits and veggies, check out these links:

Guide to Vegetables | WholeFoodsMarket.com

Guide to Fruits | WholeFoodsMarket.com

#2 – Create quality family time by letting your kids help prepare family meals

Once they’ve had a hand in picking the ingredients, your kids should be excited to get into the kitchen and try making something out of them! Kids can help to wash the veggies, and you can use your judgment to decide if they can manage the tools to peel, slice, or chop them, too.  If your kids are still little, maybe all they need is a plastic knife to slice up avocados or bananas.  No matter what their age, they can help by setting the table, folding napkins, tearing up salad greens, measuring ingredients and pouring them into mixing bowls. Even the smallest tasks like stirring a pot on the stove – with your supervision, of course –will be empowering for them. And letting them serve as the “Official Taster” will teach them that their opinion matters, too.

I teach a weekly class called “Healthy Kids Cooking Class,” and trust me, it always works. The kids get so enthused about what they’re creating that they invariably forget that it’s a food they normally wouldn’t even consider eating. Getting your kids involved in the kitchen no matter how simple or complex the task, is a great way to get them to try healthier food choices without focusing on the “healthy” part, so they’ll hardly notice that they’re actually enjoying a new vegetable!

#3 – Choose a new recipe together that highlights the vegetables they picked

Flip through a cookbook with your kids, or take to the internet and see what inspires them. Getting their input on what recipes you’ll make will add to their sense of ownership, and it breeds a healthy curiosity about how the produce they so skillfully selected will actually become that night’s meal! Plus, they’ll get an added science lesson as they learn to measure and combine different ingredients, as well as how many different methods there are to cook them. The fun you will have together will make it so much easier to have your children eat the foods you want them to.

#4 – Invite a play-date over and make it a group activity

If one child eats it, the others will follow.  A friend of my daughter is emphatic about the fact that she DOES NOT EAT ANY VEGETABLES…except she does when she’s at my house. Once, I even had her happily scarfing down my Krispy Baked Kale like it was potato chips!  She just couldn’t get enough of it. Invite a friend or two over and you can make a game out of it.  Have a contest to see who can eat the most of each vegetable you offer. Or see who can come up with the most interesting way to prepare it, then vote for a winner, and make a group activity out of cooking it…their way!

#5 – Teach them how to EAT A RAINBOW

What child doesn’t like rainbows?  Watching them ensures big smiles on their faces, and eating them ensures a healthy array of nutrients in their bellies. In my classes, we cut up fruit and skewer them to make rainbow kabobs. We then dip them into plain yogurt that we have flavored and colored naturally with pureed fruits and berries. Getting your child involved by preparing a gorgeous array of rainbow colored fruits lets them have fun by focusing on the artistic aspect of the activity, while also exposing them to a whole spectrum of flavors, foods and nutrients they might have otherwise ignored.

So make a plan to switch it up this week, get out your shopping list and get your kids involved in the kitchen!  Just a little food for thought ;)

 

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