Do you have a hard time getting your kids to eat their vegetables? If so, you’re not alone! Research shows that less than five percent of four to eight year old children get the recommended 1.5 to 2 cups per day. Although adding vegetables to your child’s diet can take some work and creativity, it’s worth the effort! Vegetables have lots of health benefits for kids. They contain the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that kids need to grow up healthy. And they’re naturally low in fat and calories, so they can help children maintain a healthy weight.
Tips to Get Your Kids Eating More
Here are some research-tested tips to help your kids eat more vegetables and get all the benefits they have to offer:
Get Kids Involved
Kids are more likely to try foods that they’ve helped select or prepare, and there are lots of ways kids can help. Let them pick out a new vegetable each time you’re at the store. At home, they can help by washing vegetables, tearing greens for salads and sandwiches, and snapping peas or broccoli. Older kids can also help peel vegetables like carrots and potatoes.
Makeover Your Meals
Lots of family-friendly meals can be altered to increase the vegetable content. If your family likes spaghetti, try using spaghetti squash in place of noodles, or try adding pureeing veggies like carrots to the sauce. Do your kids love mac and cheese? Try adding frozen peas or broccoli to the pasta when it’s nearly cooked, or try making the sauce out of pureed cauliflower.
Eat a Rainbow
The USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion divides vegetables into five groups: dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy, and other (everything else!). Each group of vegetables contains different nutrients, so it’s important to include all groups throughout the week. A good way to make sure your kids get enough of each group is to think about eating different colors each time vegetables are served.
Build Your Snack Around a Vegetable
Come up with a sweet or savory treat. For something sweet, bake black bean brownies or chickpea cookies – you can find recipes online. Or dice up a small tomato and an avocado, and mix with lime juice and onion for healthy guacamole that you can eat by itself or enjoy with baked tortilla chips.