We all love the secretly-concealed veggies in a brownie mix, and quite frankly, that’s sometimes the only way to get your kids to eat a vegetable some weeks. However, one crucial consideration to vegetable exposure is the long game. You want your kids to know they like vegetables as they get older, so make sure they get an honest idea of what various veggies look, taste, and smell like.
If you need some inspiration to make serving veggies more enjoyable, here are three great ways to add them to your routine. Like adults, every kid is different — no one will like everything. Still, these options provide the easy exposure you need to build lifelong healthy habits.
Build a Veggie Snack Menu
Let’s face it — kids love snacks. Have a child who won’t eat dinner? Call it a snack. Need to fit in a few extra vitamins? Add them to a snack. Building a snack menu around vegetables is an easy way to get kids used to these textures and flavors in a format they love. Have your kids help you create the menu to inspire them to choose different options each time. When you bring the groceries home, have them help prep the options and pull out the “menu cards” for the available choices that week. Some key elements of the menu:
- Make it colorful! Print, draw, or collage pictures of each item and display them in a prominent spot that makes daily choices easy.
- Create groupings. The best snacks have fat and protein along with the veggies. This combo will keep kids full longer. Add fruit to the mix to make a choice even more enticing. Need ideas? This list is a great place to start; add your family’s favorite snacks with a slight vegetable twist!
- Invest in snack-ready dishes. The idea is to eventually have kids choosing these veggie snacks independently. So, having dishes that support snack time is critical. Divided bowls or plates are great for holding any dips or sauces. You can also offer mini silicone cupcake holders as dip containers!
- Experiment with options. You don’t have to limit snacks to raw veggies, so remember to try cooked versions of the menu items your kids don’t seem to enjoy. Make this process fun by passing out comment cards to your kids each Friday night for their snack feedback! You can incorporate their ideas into the following week.
Roast with “Secret Spices”
You’ve probably learned that adults love roasted veggies, but with a little bit of fun sprinkled in, kids do too! Roasting vegetables brings out the natural sweetness in every variety, so kids will likely enjoy this preparation more than a raw version. Adding secret spices to the mix will increase the odds that your kids have fun making and eating these roasted veggies.
Before you prep with the kids, set aside several small bowls with seasoning options. For seasoning inspiration, this guide offers ideas for almost every veggie. Have your kids help chop the veggies with their own kid-safe knives, then toss them in a bowl with olive oil and salt. Next, the secret spice selection begins! Let them smell and taste (if they want) each option, then sprinkle away. Once everything is cooked, have them guess which spices they chose. This is not only a fun way to make eating dinner an adventure, but they’ll also learn a lot about flavor profiles and seasoning.
Go the Frozen Route
Kids love dessert, so serving veggie popsicles is bound to be an easy win. Beyond the appeal of a treat, however, there’s another reason why serving something cold can help take the edge off any unusual flavors. When food is hot, the molecules move around quickly, releasing more flavor. Cold food molecules move more slowly, so your taste buds don’t receive such intense inputs. If your kids need time to warm up to the flavor of certain veggies, a cold option might just do the trick!
For an easy veggie popsicle recipe, choose your favorite green smoothie and pour it into a home popsicle mold. This collection of kid-friendly smoothie recipes is a fun place to start if you need inspiration. Add whatever vegetables you want to these delicious bases! You can easily find molds that have fun shapes so that your popsicles offer a bit of extra excitement! Kids love to help throw the ingredients in the blender, fill the mold, and check every 20 minutes to see if it’s frozen yet (vegetables may or may not help with patience)!
No matter how you prepare veggies at home, remember that consistent exposure is essential to eventual vegetable bliss. You’re making progress every time you serve those veggies, so forge ahead!