1. Veggies as the first course….
This is bringing us back again to a time when meals were much slower, had smaller portions and typically had a vegetable course at the beginning of the meal. In our house we are invoking this time by offering a little bit of salad first to the kids or small bowls of soup. The salads have been elaborate with my homemade dressing and they have also been super simple chopped up cukes with tomatoes and my daughter’s favorite food - ranch dressing.
2. Small portions….
Kids are turned off when their plates have heaping servings of vegetables. It is our attempt to get them to eat more vegetables but it backfires all the time. Try a very small portion size of EVERYTHING on their plates, including the veggies. This is an odd suggestion but I have tested it out on my kids, all their friends and my friend’s kids. Serve them one bit of chicken along with 5 peas, it intrigues them and they eat all the peas. Serve them three bits of chicken and a pile of peas, they eat the chicken and leave the peas. Smaller portions work but make sure all the foods are a smaller portion, they can always have more.
3. Any time/All the time….
The more veggies that are served, the more kids are exposed to them, the more they eat. There are studies documenting kids in immigrant families, in the US, whose families eat vegetables at breakfast. These kids eat more vegetables than other US kids, even if the remainder of their diet is fairly Americanized. Serve tomatoes with breakfast on their buttered toast, serve sliced cucumber on the side, carrots with cream cheese and anything else that is a favorite (My son just suggested a microwaved potato with butter and salt). Keep vegetables in all the lunches and snacks, too. Again, make portion sizes small.
4. Match the competition….
Vegetables are up against rough competition that doesn’t play fair, they are fighting against Cheetos, super sweet yogurts, rich cheeses, salty crackers, etc. to try and get your kid’s attention. These foods are creating a taste palate in kids that is hard for vegetables to compete against. Kids and adults will typically choose the foods that are richer, saltier and/or sweeter over the plain taste of vegetables. So….don’t be shy, go ahead and flavor the vegetables. Vegetables can compete if they are straight from the garden but most of the time that isn’t an option. Veggies just need a little help. Using salt, sugar, a little cheese or butter is not a sin and it will make the kids like the veg more.