It wouldn't be exactly true to say my daughter is a fussy eater because she will try almost anything at least once and she loves a pretty good variety of foods. That said, she also isn’t the easiest child to feed because as far as I can tell, her taste buds appear to have multiple personalities. Not to mention when it comes to nutritious foods, it would be more accurate to say that sweets rules her tummy. She will do many things for candy, and don’t think I don’t use that candy/dessert reward leverage to gain entry for nutritious items likes of vegetables on a fairly regular basis. I like to call it reward, not a bribe (or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.)
Like any other preschooler I’ve met, if asked about her favorite food, she would profess a love of candy and desserts more than any other edible categories out there. And I’m fairly certain that if she could live on carbs, gummy bears, and icing alone, she probably would (rickets and scurvy be damned.)
Despite these common obstacles (or at least I think their common), I don’t give up on trying to get her to eat healthy food. I really do try do my best to get her recommended five fruit & vegs per day and honestly, some days are really way better than others. But I figure it all comes out in the wash if she overloads every couple days as opposed to every day (I hope it works that way).
Since the Canada Food Guide recommends getting one dark green and one orange vegetable a day, I try to stay stocked in carrots and broccoli since those are her favs. But like I said, my girl can be fickle and what worked on Tuesday may not work on Wednesday, and it can be days, weeks, or months before that item returns to favour again. So to counteract her food swings, I let her pick at least one vegetable at store each trip and I also try to switch up veggie presentation on a regular basis.
Personally I like my veggies raw, so I offer them to Gigi with hummus or another mild dip and she usually will eat at least one serving in a sitting. Served raw is also a nice side for her lunch and easy to take along to the park. But not all veggies can be served that way, so for vegetables I like to cook regularly, like broccoli, spinach, and sweet potato, I try to rotate the recipes to keep her interested. I find that as long as I don’t serve a veggie the same way, too often, she will finish at least some of her serving.
So far, my true and tested recipes that are almost guaranteed to get veggies into my daughter’ system are:
Broccoli and feta cheese salad
Broccoli with ginger
Sweet potato oven fries (skipping the chili)
Spinach, orange and almond salad
And I’m constantly on the hunt for new recipes so we can bolster the rotation. In fact I found this balsamic chicken with baby spinach recipe recently and think I’ll try it this week to see if I can get another spinach recipe in the rotation. How about you, what works best at getting veggies into your child’s diet? Bribery, threats, espionage, or darn good recipes – I’d love to hear it all.
Katie is the Toronto City Editor for The Savvy Source. You can read more of her work every day at Being Savvy Toronto.
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