Veggie Recipes My Kid Will Try

May 2, 2009

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.

From the Parents

  • Parent # 1

    My favorite tip for getting my 5 year old to eat fruits and veggies is to allow him to help cut them up and arrange them into pretty patterns on a large plate. He can easily cut bananas, strawberries, steamed carrots, steamed broccoli (he likes to behead the "trees" and just eat the top), etc. It's also fun to allow him to spoon or pour his favorite salad dressing, yogurt, hummus, sour cream, melted cheese or a pre-made cheese chip dip, fruit puree, peanut butter, or any other favorite dipping friendly substance into cute little bowls, ramekins, or containers to dip their fruits and veggies into. We make flowers, bugs, abstract designs and the like on the plate and arrange the dips as well. It even gets him to eat extra bites before we serve it so he can keep it symmetrical or get rid of a piece that doesn't quite fit. I come up with "experiments" where we take a bite of 2 or 3 different fruit/veggie combinations to see how they taste together and then we compare to how they taste apart and choose our favorites. We also experiment to find out what dip and veggie combo we like the best. To make it more exciting you can ask for their help to taste-test these combination so you can make a menu for lunch, appetizer, or dessert through the week. When the above stops being much of a draw, I get out some plastic toothpicks (the kind that look like swords or have some other cute design on top) and let him make little kebabs of his favorite combinations, add cheese cubes or maraschino cherries to make them more attractive. We also have little picnics either on the floor with a breakfast tray, in a fort, or outside if weather permits. I always make sure that I stress the fact that he is the chef and lead him to make some decisions so he feels like he's the one that is choosing to eat this instead of being told to eat fruits and veggies. He quickly forgets that I chose what to get out of the refrigerator and feels like he has some control so he eats much better than he normally would. We always make this something special that he and I do together and I always make a point of being excited that we're making this special treat together. He now sees making a fruit or veggie platter as a big treat or reward - even though we do it more days than not during the summer. He gets really excited when we are able to add something we have grown (tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.) or a fruit that isn't in season often like cherries, blueberries, and strawberries. Watermelon is a huge summer favorite and you can make "boats" out of watermelon slices and use toothpicks to stick other fruits on the boat as passengers.

    over a year ago


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