Getting picky eaters to eat all of their vegetables can be a time-consuming and (unfortunately) tear-inducing affair in some households, but it doesn’t have to be if you know how to make vegetables taste delicious.
While sneaking vegetables into your kids’ food may help them get some of the vitamins and nutrients they’d otherwise be missing, the bigger issue is that kids don’t think they like the taste of vegetables, and it’s time to change that.
The best way to get your kids to eat their vegetables is to make them love each and every bite. You and your children will find a renewed love for vegetables by putting just a bit of creativity (read: seasoning or dipping sauces) into these dishes.
Seasoning food is important not only for your sophisticated adult palate, but for your picky eaters as well. Most children, and even some adults, are very sensitive to bitter flavors, meaning that healthy vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage taste plain awful to them. Toss vegetables with a splash of good olive oil, some salt, pepper, and other herbs and spices like basil or paprika, then toss everything in the oven. Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sweetness, which can offset that bitter taste kids really hate.
Sauces are another great way to get kids eating food they normally wouldn’t. Chef Bill Telepan, owner of Telepan and Telepan Local in Manhattan and father of a vegetable-eating child, recommended pesto as a kid-approved sauce at the Hidden Valley #LoveYourVeggies Kick-Off event. Make a basic pesto in a food processor with basil, arugula, or even spinach with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and some olive oil. Use it as a dipping sauce or toss with vegetables like spaghetti squash or Brussels sprouts.
Get kids excited about their vegetables with tasty dips like guacamole and ranch dressing. Keep a sealed container in the fridge filled with chopped-up vegetables for easy after-school access to healthy vegetables and their favorite dips.
Playing with food might be against the rules, but having fun with food can really engage your kids and inspire them to eat (and enjoy) their vegetables. Try a simple trick and turn any salad into a kebab. Your kids will enjoy picking up their food and forget that they once had an aversion to the green stuff on the stick. Try out these fun salad-on-a-stick ideas to help your kids learn to love their vegetables; you might even find yourself reaching for greens more often as well!
Julie Ruggirello is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @TDMRecipeEditor.