You’ve had a hectic day. It’s late and dinner is finally done! You look forward to having a nice meal with your family. You sit down, and then it begins…the war with your kids to eat their vegetables. You know you aren’t the first parent to deal with this dilemma and you certainly won’t be the last. As a parent, you know it’s important for your children to have well-balanced meals. So, how do you get your kids to eat vegetables?
When I was a child, eating your vegetables was something you simply had to do. If I didn’t eat my vegetables, there were definitely consequences involved. And frankly, it is still one way you can get your kids to eat their veggies. After all, children do need to learn that there are things in life they have to do whether they like it or not. But for those who prefer to not have a battle over dinner, I have a few suggestions.
One way to get kids to eat their vegetables is by incorporating them in different dishes rather than having them as a side dish. Casseroles, for example, are a great way to incorporate veggies in their meal. There are a variety of chicken & beef casseroles that include green beans or broccoli in their recipes. And don’t forget the classic chicken pot pie. Chicken pot pie is something that almost all kids like & it’s loaded with veggies. My personal favorite has peas and carrots with a small amount of onion, but there are other recipes that call for a whole host of different veggies in addition to that like mushrooms, green beans or broccoli. I also think dishes like cabbage rolls and stuffed peppers are a great way to get kids to eat vegetables without the vegetables staring them in the face when it’s served as a side dish.
And if your kids are particularly picky, you can always try to cut the veggies into very small pieces so they aren’t as noticeable and they can’t be picked out easily. I like to make a very simple chicken and rice dish which calls for onions and red bell pepper. My daughter isn’t crazy about either, so when she was little, I would chop them up in the food processor before sauteing and she never even knew they were there. I wouldn’t omit the veggies since they gave the dish a lot of it’s flavor. Besides, I knew they were good for us, and she was none the wiser.
Another strategy is to try a different approach to making the vegetables. Sometimes cooking the vegetable in a different way or adding something to them can make a world of difference. For example, I grew up thinking that I hated asparagus. When my mom made it, she would simply boil it and serve with butter & salt. I hated the texture and thought it tasted horrible. (By the way, this is no reflection on my mother’s cooking. She was a wonderful cook, & I wasn’t the only one that thought so.) A couple of years ago, I had dinner at a friend’s house and she made roasted asparagus. I told her I really hated asparagus, but she encouraged me to give it a try. She simply drizzled olive oil on the fresh asparagus & sprinkled with salt & pepper and roasted it for about 20 min. in a 400 degree oven. It was delicious! All this time, I thought I hated asparagus, when in reality, it was simply the way it was cooked, not the vegetable itself.
And that can certainly be the case with your kids as well. The next time you make broccoli, rather than boiling or steaming and adding salt & butter, try tossing it with olive oil & roasting for 15-20 min. in a 400 degree oven. Place it in a bowl and toss with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese and some toasted slivered almonds or toasted pine nuts. You’ll be amazed at how different it tastes & how good it is. And hopefully, your kids will think it’s good too! Making a cheddar cheese sauce to pour over your broccoli is another way to give it a lot of flavor & make it more appealing to your kids. (After all, what doesn’t taste better with cheese on it?) If your kids aren’t crazy about sweet potatoes, try melting butter with some brown sugar and drizzling it on their sweet potatoes. The brown sugar makes a world of difference.
I hope these few suggestions will be helpful in getting your kids to eat their veggies without a lot of hassle at the dinner table. If you’re successful, you know your children will be eating a healthier diet & you can have a more pleasant dining experience with your family.