Hate hearing the word "Yuk" every time they see something green or orange? Here are 10 ways to help encourage your children to eat their vegetables and enjoy them too!
1. Make sure vegetables taste good - cook them until just firm, not mushy; drizzle them with a little oil or butter/margarine.
2. Set a good example yourself. Let kids see both Mum and Dad tucking into and enjoying vegetables and salads.
3. Encourage children to help with preparation eg. shredding lettuce, grating carrot, arranging the vegetables on a plate, mixing a salad.
4. Let them serve themselves at the table. This gives them a feeling of independence and lets them choose how much they want.
5. Try not to bribe young children eg. "If you want some ice cream, you have to eat broccoli"! Children will swallow an unappetising food in order to get the reward, but that doesn't make them like it.
6. Grate vegetables such as carrot or zucchini into meatloaf, rissoles or spaghetti sauce and "hide" diced vegetables in casseroles.
7. Pizza is a kid-friendly way to serve vegetables. Using flatbread or pita bread as the base, spread with tomato paste, sprinkle with herbs and let your child add vegetable toppings along with lean ham and cheese. Offer diced red, green or yellow capsicum, mushrooms, seedless olives, a little onion, tomato slices or sliced zucchini.
8. If kids refuse cooked vegetables, offer them raw as celery sticks, capsicum strips, cherry tomatoes, whole button mushroom, carrot (grated or steamed before age 3), snow peas, beans, cucumber or steamed asparagus. Let them munch on them with their fingers.
9. Help your child grow his or her own vegetable garden. Sprouts and herbs like parsley or basil are easy to grow in pots on a window sill. Baby tomatoes and green beans grow well in a garden or larger pot.
10. Keep offering vegetables even if kids reject them at first. They need to see them at least five times before they look "familiar".
Finally US research shows that kids eat more veggies if they have a cool funny name. I did a quick survey of my mum friends and here's a list of fun silly names you can try out on your kids!
Carrots: Bugs food, See-in-the-dark food, Chariots
Broccoli: Little trees, Gregory Green
Green beans: Mister Bean, Shrek food, Warrior sticks, Greenie Beanies
Others: Super Duper Spinach, Captain Cauliflower, Tomatees, Punkins, Gollyflower and Pea-Peas.
The bottom line
Be positive about vegetables - "Ooooh yummy. Broccoli and peas tonight!" is the thing to say regardless of what you REALLY think! Don't assume your child won't like them!