One of the questions I field most often is about getting kids to eat more vegetables, especially green vegetables. I asked my daughters why kids need to eat vegetables and they gave this enthusiastic response, “Because they are healthy for you, you need to grow and it gives your body iron. You need iron!”
While I would love to take credit as a mother earth goddess, all I’ve really done to get us to green is make fresh vegetables available, constantly available and give the kids space to discover and embrace vegetables on their own terms.
My sister encouraged me early on (it can be very handy having a smarty pants older sister) to stay away from the label “picky.” Just keep your mouth shut and keep putting the veggies out there — often kids will live into the labels we put on them. Just keep your cool and they may surprise you.
It’s helps to get the kids involved in the kitchen. An easy tip/tactic: Place some fresh herbs in a juice glass and give your child a pair of scissors and have them chop away. Then, have them sprinkle those herbs on their beloved penne with butter and you’ve just accomplished gateway green.
Snack on Swiss chard/kale chips or roasted green bean “fries.” A little sea salt and good evoo go a long way to make veggies snack worthy. Even better, have them help you make them. They don’t need to be served warm, so you can make these in the early afternoon and then have them out for pre-dinner whining snacking.
My constant stand-by is to set out a selection of veggies before dinner and then keep quiet. I’ve found if there is a pretty little plate of fresh veggies on the counter the kids come and naturally snack all on their own. It takes the pressure off dinnertime nagging and if they fill up with veggies before dinner, so what? It’s also great for me if the veggies are out — while I’m cooking I’ll nibble too. Hey, we all need that iron.
What are some of your favorite tactics for building kid-sized veggie machines?