For some parents, getting their kids to eat vegetables is the biggest challenge, even more than getting them to bed or finishing homework. But with a little ingenuity, it can be accomplished. Here are a few of my favorite techniques culled from years working as a family nutritionist.
Have your child pick a food he or she wants to eat. It can be anything: pizza, a sandwich, eggs, chicken. Then tell them they can create their own recipe for this food, but they have to include 1 vegetable in the recipe. It doesn’t matter that their choice may seem strange or odd. For instance, maybe they want scrambled eggs and want to add carrots to the eggs. Let them do it, even though it's not that common.
Kids love to feel grown up. Make up a fun written “contract” with your child that they and the whole family will sign pledging to eat at least one vegetable for lunch and one for dinner every day for 1 month. Then tell them the whole family will sit down in one month and “renegotiate” the contact. At the renegotiation meeting, give everyone in the family a reward for sticking to the contract or come up with a reward the whole family can enjoy.
Another idea is to make up a condiment tray for vegetables to serve with meals. For instance, put out vegetables prepared in a way your child will eat them. Then in small ramekins, lay out condiments from which they can choose. The idea here is to get the children to try something besides ranch salad dressing. Set the ramekins on a Lazy Susan so they can have fun spinning the tray around. Try these condiments for a start: hoisin sauce, chutney, BBQ sauce, peanut sauce, salsa, and ketchup. Go ahead and include the usual ranch dressing as well!
Here's one last idea: move from the kitchen table to the internet. Point to the globe and have your child pick a country, any country. Then have them research that country’s food and find a vegetable that the country serves a lot. Then find a recipe using that vegetable and try it in your own kitchen. Your kids will love you for it!
Robyn Webb is an award winning chef, nutritionist, and author. Visit her web site for more great information and recipes.