I recently read a quote that said something like, “Your body already truly and deeply loves vegetables, even if your taste buds don’t love them yet”. Too true!
How ‘bout this one? “Food choices are a fork in the road that is always in front of you, where one way leads to discomfort and disease, and the other leads to enjoyable life”. Give me the enjoyable life.
Wondering how to get your kids to be as excited about eating Harvest 2U’s local organic produce as you are? Are you continually trying to lead them down the healthy “fork in the road”? Well, here’s some tips that may work with your kids (and finicky husband!) to help them learn to love healthy eating. Some of these tips are courtesy of Cathe Olson’s Healthy Eating Guide for Children.
Here are some helpful hints:
Paint a pretty picture – Rather than trying to get them to eat foods they don’t like, prepare them in a way that they will enjoy.
Set a good example yourself – If you are seen enjoying the foods and they see that Mommy hasn’t gagged then they will be more inclined to follow your example. We all know that good habits are “caught not taught”.
Start with smaller portions – Don’t overload their plate with huge helpings. Let them try smaller portions until they learn to love them.
Mince them – A food processor is a great investment. It can puree baby food, mix up cookie dough, and mince heaps of vegetables in seconds. Please the washed and dried greens, cabbage, broccoli, carrots or whatever in the food processor with the metal blade and chop them very fine. You can also use a manual food mill or blender if need be. Minced vegetables can be added to soups, rice, mashed potatoes, spaghetti sauce, pesto, pizza, pasta dishes, scrambled eggs, egg, potato or pasta salads – just about anything. Add them to food you know your family already likes. They’ll hardly notice the difference.
Once your vegetables are minced, they will keep only a few days in the refrigerator. But you can make a big batch and freeze them! Lay the minced veggies on a baking sheet and place in freezer. After a couple hours, transfer to a freezer container. They will keep frozen for months (but you’ll eat them up way before that). Just take a handful out as needed.
Become a farmer – Grow a small garden yourself with plants that are easy to grow. Many kids will be happy to eat veggies that they helped grow themselves. If you haven’t gardened before, choose plants that are easy to grow and provide a big yield like green beans, zucchini or tomatoes.
Dip them – Kids love dip. Let them dip their raw carrots, celery, bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, zucchini, broccoli, and more. Be creative. For dipping try, hummus, salad dressing, cream cheese, peanut butter, almond butter, tahini (a sesame seed paste), yogurt, cottage cheese, pureed tofu with herbs, or even ketchup! How about putting out a few toppings and let the kids decide? Top them – Sprinkle grated cheese on them. Try different cheeses as toppings. How about butter or sesame oil? Make your own bread crumb topping with diced bread, oil, herbs/spices and bake until toasted. Crumble over the top.
Puree soups – If your kids don’t like chunks of vegetables in their soup, puree the whole thing. Try your favorite soup after it has taken a spin in the blender. Kids can drink it right from a cup!
Make veggie burgers – To your favorite burger meat or meat substitute, mix 2 ½ cups cooked rice or millet with 1 grated carrot, ½ cup minced kale or collards, 1beaten egg, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon soy sauce or ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black (or white) pepper. Mix thoroughly by hand. Add a little water or breadcrumbs to make it all stick together. Shape the patties and fry in a small amount of oil until both sides are brown and crisp. The burgers can also be bakes at 400 degrees on an oiled baking sheet about 10 minutes a side.
Drink them – Try an “All In” smoothie. In your juicer or food processor place 1 ½ cups apple juice, ½ apple (cored and sliced), ½ orange (peeled), ½ raw sweet potato or 1 carrot (sliced), ¼ cup chopped kale or cabbage, 1 banana. Puree together. Makes 2 to 3 servings. Try you own combinations until you hit on the magic recipe!
OK, so you have the tips, now everything will be fun and games at the dinner table, right? Not so. You still have your work cut out for you. Remember, you are not only changing your habits but those of your family. That will take patience, positive reinforcement and consistency. Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN of the American Institute for Cancer Research has says, “Reports have shown that the number of foods kids like does not change much from the age of two or three to age eight and that new foods are often more likely accepted at age two to four than at four to eight.” That doesn’t mean that it is too late to get your older kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, but rather that they won’t do it on their own and you are going to have to work at it.
To quote the great Winston Churchill (remember him?),
“Never, never, never give up.”