A few ideas for getting more vegetables into kids' diets

OK guys — let’s talk about vegetables. Let’s talk about how important they are for a healthy diet and some ways we can get our kids (and ourselves) to actually put them in their mouths, chew them up and swallow them.

Did you know that, according to The State Of The Plate report, 9 out of 10 people in the United States do not eat the proper amount of vegetables? I’m certain my kids are members of that large majority and I’m afraid that most days I am too.

But I am fighting the good fight! I know it’s important to to find ways my boys can enjoy vegetables now so that they will learn to love them and become life-long veggie eaters. Because of this, I’m constantly looking for fresh ways to add them to our plates. Today I’m teaming up with Birds Eye to bring you some ideas for incorporating more vegetables into your family’s diet. In turn, Birds Eye is working with Melissa d’Arabian, chef, mom of four, and host of FoodNetwork.com’s web series The Picky Eaters Project, to give parents lots of tips. This video in particular really spoke to me:

I liked Melissa’s idea to pair vegetables with dishes my kids already like and as I watched the video I realized that this is a technique I’ve had a lot of success with myself without being conscious of it.

Here are three ways I encourage my kids to eat more vegetables:

Add Veggies to Tacos:

My kids will eat anything if I wrap it in a tortilla. Seriously.

Recently, our family decided that we should have a weekly taco night. We all love tacos, there is endless variety in the types of tacos I can make and they are almost always really fast and easy to put together. For classic tacos I like to mix a bag of Birds Eye Ultimate Southwest Blend into ground beef or turkey. The package includes corn, black beans, poblanos, red bell peppers and onions. I was a little worried that  my kids might balk at the peppers, but after they ate this meal repeatedly with no complaints I realized that they will eat just about anything at all if I wrap it in a tortilla and call it a taco. Bonus: in addition to the vegetables in the meat, they are surprisingly willing to top their tacos with all sorts of different things: lettuce, tomato, avocado, olives — they’ll even add cabbage to fish tacos sometimes when the stars align.

Veggie Up Soup:

Dude! Kids will totally eat veggies when you put them in soup. (Except when they won't.)

Another place I like to add lots of vegetables? Soup! Last week I made a super simple chicken and rice soup by combining diced rotisserie chicken, 2 quarts of chicken broth, a bag of pre-cooked frozen rice and a bag of Birds Eye Classic Mixed Vegetables (corn, peas, carrots and green beans). I just dumped them all in a pan together and heated the mixture all the way through. The whole process took less than 15 minutes from start to finish and was shocked by how much the boys liked the dish. My 10 year old even told me “You’ll have to make this recipe again because it is a hit!”

For a fast lunch, I sometimes streamline this idea even further by adding a couple handfuls of the mixed veggies to a can of soup. I’ve done this for so long that they wonder why the soup looks different when I leave the veggies out!

Make the Vegetables the Dip:

What if your kids don't like ranch dressing? Try having them dip in salsa, hummus or bean dip!

You know that ubiquitous advice to increase your kids’ vegetable consumption by giving them ranch dressing to dip it in? Well, it doesn’t work on my kids. I apparently have the only two children in the United States who think ranch dressing is disgusting. BUT, they do like to dip veggies in salsa and hummus!  Those two dips for veggies are actually MADE of veggies. How sneaky is that?

I’ve also found that if I suggest vegetables and dip when my kids ask for a snack they resist eating them, but if I have a plate of raw vegetables out and waiting on the kitchen table when they come home from school they start eating them with no comment. I’m not sure what the psychology behind this phenomenon is, but I just roll with it.

How do you encourage your children to eat more vegetables?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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I can tell that the days are starting to cool off because I’ve started packing — and Wyatt has started requesting — warm dishes in the thermos for his lunches. This week, three of the four lunches I packed him used a thermos! And good news — he’s waaaaaay more likely to eat these hot lunches than he is to eat cold or room temperature lunches. Mostly I’ve been giving him leftovers, but everything I made him this week could have been quickly prepped in the morning and would have taken no more time than his usual cold lunches. Read on to see what he had:

This post contains affiliate links.

Monday

It was a school holiday — no lunches.

Tuesday

Beans and cheese in the thermos

On Tuesday I whipped out our LunchBots thermal jar for this super quick and hella tasty lunch. I mixed leftover beans from Monday’s dinner with a little spoonful of salsa, heated them in the microwave and then sprinkled a little grated cheese on top after I put them in the thermos. I added grapes and some gimMe seaweed snacks on the side.

This lunch was a HUGE hit and Wyatt ate all of it. He even asked for more beans as a snack when he got home from school! The next time I make it, I think I’ll include some chips or tortillas too.

Seaweed and Grapes Snack

Augie had his own pack of seaweed snacks and a some grapes for his mid-morning snack.

Wednesday

Spooooky Halloween Lunch

On Wednesday, Wyatt took his creepy Halloween lunch to school. Get more details here.

Pita chips and grapes snack

Augie had pita chips and grapes with a jack-o-lantern pick for decoration. This was packed in our Steeltainer snack-size box.

Thursday

Soup and bagel lunch

Thursday, I pulled out the thermal jar again — this time for chicken noodle soup! Wyatt also had a mini bagel with cream cheese and some strawberries. (If you’re wondering — yes, I’m using the inner containers from our Laptop Lunches sets for the side dishes on these lunches.)

Berries, grapes and eyeballs snack for kindergarten

Augie had grapes and strawberries with an eyeball pick for decoration.

Friday

Beanie-Weenies and sides lunch

And then there was one more thermos lunch on Friday! Augie and I had beanie-weenies for our lunch on Thursday — baked beans with all-natural, nitrite-free, hippy-dippy hot dogs chopped up and mixed in — so Wyatt had the leftovers for his lunch the next day. I also packed him some strawberries and some kettle corn on the side.

Popcorn and strawberries snack (with bunnies)

Augie also had strawberries and kettle corn in our Steeltainer snack box but I decorated his with a piece of bunny baran (see how he’s also eating a strawberry? Meta!) and a cute little bunny pick.

What do you pack in your kids’ thermos for lunch?


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