Vegetable eating in kids: the parents’ Holy Grail

20140803-193559-70559688.jpg Sunday tea time: I’m cooking salmon for the girls and decide to add noodles because they love them and think that they’re essentially ‘grown up spaghetti’, particularly when I add a bit of soy sauce and lemon.

I was musing on how to get them to eat a vegetable element to the meal, and had one of those rare moments in parenting: the “I’ve just had such a good idea that I’m going to be openly really smug about it” moment.

Small plastic pots, with chopped cucumber and celery, placed neatly to the side of the noodle dish. “Look! Your VERY OWN little pot filled with lovely things!”. They ate the lot. And that wouldn’t have happened if I had just plonked them in the dish (instead I would have got “Urghh! I don’t want that” or my littlest one would have simply flung them on the floor disinterestedly).

And I think that’s the key to vegetable eating in my girls – try and do something different and exciting. It’s not easy, but I’ve realised that I do more ‘vegetable magic’ than I thought.

Besides the vegetable pots which are the current hit (until they become passĂ© – probably within the week), here are some of my current means of ensuring veg eating:

  • Telling them it makes better cartwheels: I mean, every kid wants to do ace cartwheels, surely? And eating copious amounts of carrot is a certain way to the best cartwheels around.
  • Varying how the veg looks on the plate: Smiley faces worked for a while – cucumber slices for the eyes, sweet corn noses, tomato smiles etc. Until nearly-4 year old decided it was ‘scary’. Now I try and make a princess.
  • Trying new, exotic vegetables: This works for about 1 day. Maybe 2 if you’re lucky. But if you’re really struggling this week, try something they haven’t eaten in ages and rave about it like it’s the best thing ever and “Mummy used to eat this when she was a little girl” and it tastes “a lot like cheese” etc.
  • Hiding it: Usually in pasta sauce. I have an ace homemade pasta sauce going which has a tomato, onion and garlic base, and then I just add whichever vegetables I happen to have in and whizz it up in the blender, as smoooooth as possible. “Hmmm, this is yummy, Mummy!”. I know…
  • Saving it for supper: Supper has been a popular thing in our house this year. If my little ones leave their veg at tea time, it suddenly becomes the most appetising thing they’ve ever seen when it’s in a different bowl, and eaten in their bed whilst having stories read to them. Amazing.

    Anyone else any ideas? Mine are good for now but I’m sure the day will soon come when my little ones are wise to my tricks…

  • expressionconfession

    Working Mum of two, living in Didsbury, Manchester, in a house which breeds washing, mushed up raisins and various toys in the brightest primary colours. Oh, and the odd empty wine glass.

    5 thoughts to “Vegetable eating in kids: the parents’ Holy Grail”

    1. My son used to eat all his veg but is much fussier now he’s five. I do the whizzing up trick but not sure he would eat his veg at bed time to be honest! Generally hiding them I find is a good move, in something like lasagna.

    2. Love how simple it can be. Mine are like this too, although I cannot imagine a day where they will happily tuck into salmon and noodles! Ah well 🙂
      X x

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