Most kids are inherently suspicious of any foodstuff that isn’t beige and/ or encrusted in sugar. Naturally, this means all the things that are actually good for them – particularly that much-maligned food group fruit & veg – are eschewed in favour of the nutritionally defunct. Some tots might deign to eat a select few fresh ingredients; but ask them to try anything new (or green)? Nope, and not a chance.
Teaching your children to love vegetables can seem a frustrating – and at times, totally futile – slog, but there are ways to make it easier, and fun — none of which will leave you crying into a bowl of untouched broccoli.
Nutritionist Catherine Jeans emphasises that it’s important for children to recognise they need to eat fruit and veg, so take them to your regular store and give them the option to decide what they want.
“If you ask them to choose a new vegetable each to try, they will feel a sense of empowerment,” says Catherine.
It’s obvious that you need to make a healthy eating philosophy front and centre, but don’t feel bad about sneaking extra goodness into your brood’s meals:
“Use a lemon zester rather than a cheese grater, and when you are making a one-pot dinner such as bolognese or shepherd’s pie, you can grate in carrots and courgettes, or add to mashed potatoes. Children like to pick things out, so hide it and get as much in as you possibly can,” suggests Catherine.
Shake Up Snack Time
Offer a platter of chopped-up vegetables – maybe cherry tomatoes, baby sweetcorn, little broccoli florets, some avocado, during the times your tykes usually ransack the kitchen for titbits. During homework hour can work especially well because if they’re hungry, and the plate is right there…they might just pick it up.
It’s not necessary to completely chuck the family’s faves; just make some healthy adjustments. Pizza, for example, can be transformed with a homemade tomato sauce (you can hide lots of vegetable goodness in it before blending it down), and an exciting selection of fresh toppings everyone can pick from – think chopped mushrooms, sweetcorn, pineapple, colourful sliced peppers, and fresh herbs.
Hire a Helper
Kids love playing pretend kitchen – why not let them try the real thing? Give them ingredients and tools, and simple instructions. Supervise (obviously) but allow them space to experiment and take ownership of their job as sous chef. Check out these delish, easy-to-make pasta sauces to get your young ones started.
Go to the Source
Take anything out of its usual setting, and children tend to respond with more enthusiasm. Go berry-picking in the summer, take them on trips to farmers’ markets or visit a friend’s allotment (start your own, even!).
Veg box deliveries are another great way of exposing the fam to foods you wouldn’t ordinarily buy – plus, every kid gets excited about receiving a parcel; regardless of the contents.
The single most successful method of instilling conscious eating habits is to model them yourself. Tuck into that salad with gusto, and say no to the crisps – and avoid cheating on the sly; kids can totally sniff you out.
Source: The Telegraph