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Its the age-old question for parents: How do we get our kids to eat vegetables? Theres bribery. Theres trickery. Theres all out war. But Im not made of money, Im really bad at lying, and going toe-to-toe with a three year-old is something Im not emotionally or physically prepared for — shes freakishly strong. So with two young girls who willingly gobble up veggies and a name like Mama Pea, Ive got a few tried-and-true techniques to get kids excited for dinner, peas and all.
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1: Let them choose
Its not a new concept that kids like to be in control, considering were usually the ones calling the shots. So it can be exciting to take a trip to the produce department and have permission to pick a new fruit or vegetable theyd like to try. The deal is: They get to choose whatever they want but only if everyone in the family agrees to try it. And yes, that means you may have to down a turnip or two yourself.
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2: Let them cook
Like with shopping, kids get excited about being involved in making their meals. Offer build-your-own pasta bowls, salads, or stir fries. If you arrange an assortment of veggies in small bowls and let your kids get creative, its amazing what they might try.
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3: Shun the can
My husband grew up thinking he didnt like green beans because hed only ever eaten them canned. But fresh veggies taste far different (and in my opinion, better) than their canned counterparts. Hit farmers markets or shop for sales on fresh produce, and your kids might actually eat what they otherwise thought was yucky from a can.
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4: Make it a game
Everyone knows you can call broccoli trees, but did you know that carrots help give you super vision? So super that you can see through walls? Your kid didnt know that either, but he or she will have fun trying.
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5: Close the kitchen, except for veggies
In our house, the cupboards are closed between meals, aside from a planned snack. If the kids are still hungry, they know that the produce drawers are always open and ready for the picking. If theyre truly hungry, theyll eat that carrot or celery stick, and they can even get it themselves.
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Find a healthy sauce you approve of and that your kids enjoy, and let them use it liberally. Be it ranch, hummus, or peanut sauce — dip, drizzle, and mix it in, and your kids will be eating veggies you never dreamed of.
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7: Be a monkey
Monkey see, monkey do. If you dont eat your veggies, your kid doesnt stand a chance. Model the behavior you want to see from them. Load up your plate with the green stuff and show them how its done.
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8: Turn on the heat
While your children may not like raw broccoli, they may enjoy it lightly steamed. Raw green beans become green bean fries when they are roasted in the oven and served with ketchup. Try new ways of preparation before writing off a veggie completely.
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9: Take a field trip
Again, kids love the hands-on approach. Visit a u-pick field and let your kids go to town on green beans, snap peas, and zucchini. They might not even make it out of the field before they have a tummy full of the good stuff.
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10: Repeat, repeat, repeat
Kids tastes are constantly changing and developing. Dont give up after the first try. It may take using every single one of these tips a dozen times before they become willing accomplices. But since you are eating your veggies too, you should have all the stamina you need to stick with it.
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