I have found some pretty hilarious ways to get my kids to *want* to eat vegetables. Mind you, most of these revelations were found on accident which makes it a bit more ironic.
1. Serve only the adults a specific vegetable. When they ask why they don’t have any, give a polite reason why, recant if they insist.
2. Eat your vegetable first. Eat it as if it were Filet Mignon. Young children watch everything, be careful not to over exaggerate.
3. If you child is curious about your strange vegetable, offer them a bite off your plate.
4. Let them be ‘sneaky’ and eat food off of your plate, or the basket of raw vegetables off the table.
5. When your children are preoccupied with playing, sneak off to the kitchen and eat a healthy snack (like you would hide to eat a candy bar, just don’t hide as well). You will get and “Ooooooooo! Can I have some?!”
6. Let kids come up with their own combinations. I am not a fan of bottled ranch dressing so if we do not have any made, then the kids come up with crazy dipping ideas. I try not to push my preconceived ideas of normal onto them, and they now LOVE dipping veggies in pickle juice.
7. Let them shop for their own veggies. We let the kids take turn picking the fruits and vegetables and my 4 year old rediscovered her love of avocado by picking out her own at the store.
8. Allow the children to prepare the vegetables. Kids love shredding greens, cutting chives with scissors, snapping green beans, pulling broccoli, etc. They will probably sneak a bite during preparation, giggle with them and sneak a bite too.
9. Describe the cooking/preparing process like some wonderful adventure that magically makes food tastier. Watch the butter melt over beans and talk with anticipation about how wonderful it will be when it is finally time to eat. Watch the steam, notice the change in color while you cook, talk about the change in texture. Tantalize them kindly.
10. Have vegetables for dessert. Kids would have to be pretty young for this to work, but we have to remember that kids do not know what ‘normal’ is! Take advantage, and try to set a healthy worldview for your children. My kids anticipate kale chips as much as ice cream so if they finish their grilled fish, rice and veggie, we can snack on kale chips before bed.
11. Treat it like you would treat candy. “Look! We are having green beans with our chicken!” Get excited, in young children excitement is contagious. Limit when and how much they can have as you would sugar. Be kind, and be reasonable, but treat vegetables like they are special.
12. Steal a bite off their plate after you finish eating your portion, act like you just had to have one more bite. This would not work on my son who takes food stealing very personally.
13. Make them earn their vegetable. It is precious (wink, wink) and we would not want to waste it, so we have to make sure they are still hungry after they eat the main dish. After all, you want to be able to eat it if they do not.
14. Hand them the salt and pepper shaker. My salt shaker is a grinder and they cannot over do it so this is safe at my house. This lets them personalize and feel ownership over their vegetables.
15. Talk about the good qualities of your vegetables. Mention the antioxidants, foliate, calcium, vitamin A. Speak with wonder at the potential vitamins and mineral have. They do not have to understand what you say because they will understand what you are saying is amazing. Say more than, “It makes you strong.” Give details of the process and chain reaction that vegetables start. They are not just eating carrots, they are eating potential.