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:
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:
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:
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.