Article by Michele Rafeld MS, RDN, CDN
When I speak to parents or caregivers of young children, I’m often asked, “How do I get my kids to eat more veggies?” While getting young children to eat veggies can be challenging, I do have some tips and tricks to expose your little ones to begin to try veggies.
Encourage Food Play and Prep:
Children like to explore the world using all five senses. For example, toddlers will often touch, taste or smell a new toy. Having children participate in food prep is a great way for them to use their senses and get comfortable with a veggie, or other new food. If you are chopping up a romaine salad, ask if they can help you peel the lettuce. Do they notice any colors or feel textures with their fingers? Or you can show them how to cut soft veggies or fruits, such as avocado or strawberries with a kid’s knife. You might be happily surprised if they taste a bite along the way!
Serve Veggie Often:
I try to expose my kids to vegetables during meals whenever possible. When preparing dinner, I’ll chop up some veggies, such as cucumbers and red bell peppers, to serve to the kids before the meal when they are hungry. There is always a veggie on the dinner plate, even on our weekly pizza nights at home. If your children are picky eaters, try putting veggies in the middle of the table; if they see you eating them, they might be more inclined to do the same. When experimenting with new veggies, make sure your children always have a “safe” food, meaning a food they enjoy or eat regularly, with a “new” food like a vegetable. For example, if their safe food is pizza, try serving it with a veggie that they aren’t that familiar with. This creates a safe environment for children to feel more relaxed and more inclined to try it.
For little ones, trying new foods can be a scary thing. Sometimes they need multiple exposures before they are inclined to give veggies a try. If you have a certain veggie that you are eating, try serving it to your children. If they don’t touch it, don’t be discouraged; continue giving them a small serving of veggies.
Michele Rafeld is a Scarsdale mom of 2 young children. She specializes in eating disorders, disordered eating and intuitive eating. She also helps people manage other medical symptoms like GI disorders through diet. Along with virtual one-on-one nutrition counseling, Michele offers meal support therapy, personalized meal planning and culinary lessons. All 15 minute discovery calls are complimentary.
Banana Zucchini Muffin Tops
This is a great recipe to sneak some fruits and veggies into a muffin top. Or, if they are getting involved in the prep, it’s an easy way to expose your kids to fruits and veggies. Try cutting the zucchini into sticks and serving them while preparing the muffins. I often keep these muffins in my freezer and toast them up for breakfast on busy mornings.
Makes 12 Large muffin Tops
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup flax meal
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup grated zucchini
2 ripe mashed bananas
1/4 cup avocado oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
*Can substitute oat flour for whole wheat flour for oat flour, all purpose or a gluten free blend.
*Can substitute any other frozen fruit like blueberries or chopped mango.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a separate, bowl mix wet ingredients and combine all together.
- Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper. With an Ice cream scooper, drop 12 scoops onto the tray.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
*I like to eat mine fresh or you can store in the freezer for up to 2 months.