Eat: One, Two, Three, Four, Five a Day!
I’m not particularly strict when it comes to food with my kids. While I rarely enter into power struggles over food and we have no clean plate club at our house, I do work hard to get the kids to eat at least five fruits and/or vegetables a day. Some days we make it; some days we don’t.
Fruits are easy, right? What kid doesn’t love bananas, grapes, apples, kiwi, melons, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc. They are just so sweet and yummy. If it was up to my kids, they would eat fruit for every meal.
But it’s those veggies that can be tricky. Yech. Sometimes bitter, sometimes too hard (or soft), and sometimes almost tasteless. Peppers or apples? I would take the apple every time. But, I know that vegetables are really important for growing little bodies, and I want them to develop a true tolerance (if not a like!) for them that will last long after I’m able to regulate the kids’ intake of them.
Here are a few things that have worked (off and on) for us:
1. Let them play with their food. Present their snack in a fun shape. Or give them the pieces and see if they can arrange it into something cool.
2. Put out veggies and hummus or low-fat dip before dinner. If your kids are anything like my kids, they get REALLY hungry right before dinner. Ravenous. Complaining and whining. You’d think they hadn’t eaten all day (let alone 2 hours ago when they had their afternoon snack). They get to eat a snack (they are happy) and you don’t have to enter into the veggie-eating battle at dinner (you are happy).
3. Hide them. Sneaky Chef has a bunch of great recipes, so you could start there (most public libraries have a copy so you could look at it before you invested in it). While I don’t regularly use her different vegetable concoctions, I have learned from her that I can hide pureed baby food (homemade or store bought) into almost anything. Add spinach to a smoothie that is already green because of the kiwi. Add a jar or two of baby food squash to macaroni and cheese. No one will notice.
4. Let them serve themselves. Sometimes if the kids are able to scoop out the steamed veggies and put it on their plate, they’ll eat more. Weird? Yes. I don’t really understand it. But I don’t ask questions.
5. Spice them up! Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of broccoli. Dip green beans in ketchup or ranch dressing. Dust cinnamon onto cooked carrots. Squeeze lemons over veggies to get a sweeter taste.
6. Name them something awesome. What? No, we’re not having mashed potatoes for dinner- these are cloud fluff! Tomatoes? Nooooo….these are moon squirters. (Thank you, Charlie and Lola).
7. Let the kids decide. Next time you grow grocery shopping, have each kid choose an interesting vegetable to try. Have them sit on your lap at the computer as you look up a recipe online. Decide together which one to make. Investigate what vitamins and minerals that veggie has and how it helps their bodies grow. This one works well for Asante, but not really Aly. Perhaps he’s more interested in how his body works than Aly is.