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9 Ways To Get Kids To Eat Veggies: Tips From Kids!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow do you get kids to eat veggies?

It’s one of the greatest mysteries known to momkind.

The basic answer, of course, is that you make vegetables a regular part of kids’ meals from early on in life. The truth is that sometimes, despite your best intentions, kids get all picky on you.

For solutions, I went straight to the source: KIDS. And got some seriously genius insider strategies to get kids to eat veggies—and love them, too.

Photo credit: istock

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  • Let kids grow ‘em themselves 1 of 9
    Let kids grow 'em themselves
    "I never ate salad until we grew lettuce and cucumbers in kindergarten," says Josh, 9. "Now I love salad and have it every day! My favorite are cukes and red pepper."

    Photo credit: Flickr/ woodleywonderworks
  • Make veggies the Good Guys 2 of 9
    Make veggies the Good Guys
    "On kids' channels you always see kids trying to feed vegetables to the dog!" says Haile Thomas, a 12-year-old in Tucson who's creator of the Healthy Girls Adventure Club and a spokesperson for Hyatt Hotels Corporation (she created a kids' menu for them). "Media encourages kids to think vegetables are disgusting." As a parent, I've learned not to demonize vegetables; saying "If you finish your vegetables, you get dessert!" only makes kids think veggies are like medicine.

    Photo credit: Flickr/Cyn74
  • Get creative 3 of 9
    Get creative
    "Being creative makes eating vegetables fun, so it's not just soggy, unseasoned vegetables on a plate mushed up," says Haile, creator of the online program Kids Can Cook. "My mom plays with vegetables and tries different color and flavor combinations, which helps because my younger sister is a little picky! For dinner tonight we had mango and kale salad, with a dressing made of coconut nectar and olive oil, and it was really good. If kids have a problem with the taste of kale, it diminishes that flavor."

    Haile's Quinoa, Black Bean and Corn Salad earned her an invite to the first Kids State Dinner at the White House, hosted by The Obamas. "Kids love it!" reports Haile—and she's sharing the recipe.

    Quinoa, Black Bean and Corn Salad

    2 (15-ounce) cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed
    4 cups fresh corn
    1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
    2 cups cooked quinoa
    1 medium red onion, chopped
    1/2 bunch fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
    1 medium red onion, chopped
    2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into cubes
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    1 lemon, halved
    Sea salt

    In a large bowl, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, quinoa, cilantro or parsley, red onion, avocados, and olive oil. Squeeze the lemon halves and add their juice to the bowl. Toss to combine then season to taste with salt and serve

    Photo credit: Charmaine Thomas
  • Add veggies to foods kids love 4 of 9
    Add veggies to foods kids love
    "Mix veggies with foods they like, like chicken and rice!" suggests Lucy, 9. "For school lunch, my sister and I bring spinach or chard in pasta, with some Gouda cheese and sauce," says Haile. "It tastes great! You can also add spinach or broccoli to mac ‘n cheese, and veggies to pizza or sandwiches."

    Click here for recipes for Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese, Spinach Mac ‘n Cheese and other deliciously healthy versions.

    Photo credit: Flickr/Vancouver Bites
  • Let kids help prepare the veggies 5 of 9
    Let kids help prepare the veggies
    "When kids make food themselves," says Haile, "they're proud and want to taste their creations."

    Photo credit: Charmaine Thomas
  • Explain why veggies help their bodies 6 of 9
    Explain why veggies help their bodies
    "It's good to study nutrition! This year we learned about the food plate at school, and that fruits and veggies are better for you instead of junk and calories," says Lucy. For younger kids, explain the specific benefits of veggies in simple terms—carrots help their eyes see well, for example, and broccoli builds strong bones.

    Photo credit: istock
  • One word: edamame 7 of 9
    One word: edamame
    The name alone is funny enough, but the soybeans are fun to eat and a good source of fiber, protein, iron and zinc.

    Photo credit: Flickr/cyclonebill
  • Reach for ranch dressing 8 of 9
    Reach for ranch dressing
    You could put ranch dressing on cardboard, and kids would eat it. (Not that we recommend that.) Haile explains the lure: "It's the creamy, salty flavor, a great combination and great for dipping everything." She recently tried ranch dressing at a local restaurant, Urban Fresh, that she claims is better than any of the bottled kind she tried; here's the recipe.

    Vegan Ranch Dressing

    1 cup homemade mayonnaise (recipe below)
    1/2 tsp granulated garlic
    1/2 tsp granulated onion
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    2 tsp fresh Parsley, chopped
    1/4 cup soy milk, unsweetened

    Whisk in bowl until blended.

    Homemade Mayonnaise

    1 package firm Silken Tofu
    1 tsp granulated garlic
    1 tsp granulated onion
    1 tsp yellow mustard
    Juice of 1 lemon
    1 tsp agave
    Pinch of mineral salt

    Blend all together in blender until smooth. Will keep for approximately 1-2 weeks in refrigerator.

    Photo credit: istock
  • And if all else fails… 9 of 9
    And if all else fails...
    "Try jellybeans!" suggests Sylvie, 7. "My friend at school put a jellybean on her lettuce! And then at home I put one on my broccoli! And it was deeee-licious!" Jillian, age 4, offers, "I would eat ice-cream covered with veggies!" Jeremy, 5, suggests, "Have the parents disguise the veggies with hats and sunglasses. Or put lots of ketchup and mustard over them." And Margo, 3, had this advice: "Tell the kids to eat their vegetables because they have to eat it and you are the Mommy!"

    Photo credit: Flickr/KaCey97007

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