Picky Little Eaters and Vegetables

In Eat Better, Move More by Hope Pedraza

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How to get picky little eaters to eat veggies?

Picky eaters can be a tough subject to talk about.  People like to get all judgy here and talk as if they can do a better job at getting your kids to eat right than you can.  While this may or may not be true, there are some tried and true ways that you can turn your kiddos (or husbands who think they can still eat like kiddos) on the starch-and-carb-only-diet into balanced eaters who value all food groups.

Sneak it in.

As adults, we are not above bribery or sneaky tricks when it comes to getting kids to eat their veggies.  So taking on some hacks to sneak in the veggies is the way to go.  Making them a delicious “milk shake” with some yogurt (no sugar added, you can even freeze it and have them think it is ice cream!), a frozen banana, peanut butter and kale or spinach is a great way to get their greens in.  You can also add some frozen fruit with the greens for another option. (Hint: if the green color totally freaks them out, add some all natural food coloring to the blender to make it a color they like and they’ll never know!!!).   Other ways to sneak in the veggies: blending veggies (finely puree!) into your spaghetti sauce, making homemade burgers with those same finely pureed veggies, and also sneaking them into desserts.  That’s right, desserts!  There are dozens of chocolatey-good recipes online that sneak in pureed spinach or kale, and you would never know! Google it, it’s true!

Let them choose.

By nature, humans like to have choices when making decisions.  This rings true for kids as well.  They don’t want to be told what to do; instead they want to CHOOSE what to do.  So give them choices! Take a trip down the produce aisle and let them choose what veggies you will eat for the week, or open the freezer and let them choose from what you have in there. It’s all about the power to choose!

Make it fun.

Who doesn’t like fun food?!  Make your veggies options fun and exciting, and they won’t be able to refuse! Use cookie cutters and cutlery to make shapes and designs for the kids veggies.  Even just making them look fun on the plate can be enough to get them to eat them.  Be creative… and YouTube will be your best friend!

Make healthy swaps.

Secretly swapping out some not-so-healthy-options with healthier ones can wean your picky eaters off the junk and towards balanced meals.  Putting out some crisp, fresh veggies (cucumbers, sweet peppers and carrots are always good for the kiddos) with some homemade ranch or onion dip is a great substitute to the chips you might normally have. Hummus is also another crowd pleasing snack that can be eaten with veggies.  For another swap, instead of buying chips, make your own.  Baking thinly sliced sweet potatoes, gold potatoes (use the mandolin for a great shape!), kale, or other veggies with salt and pepper (or other seasoning of your choice) can be a tasty treat and a great way to get the veggies in.

Change up your cooking technique.

Sometimes all it takes is cooking your veggies in a new way to get kids to eat them.  Maybe they don’t like raw veggies, but they like them steamed or roasted.  Saute, stir fry, served with ketchup or mustard…try anything and everything to see what works.  Maybe you turn green beans or asparagus into “fries” by coating them with Panko and baking them in the oven; serve with a delicious dipping sauce and they’ll really feel like they’re eating fries!