To help parents make veggies more appealing to their kids, we asked ten experts, including a holistic therapist and a Head Chef, for their most creative suggestions. From creating vegetable artwork to incorporating veggies into familiar dishes, these professionals provide a variety of innovative strategies to help you win the veggie battle at home.
- Create a Vegetable Artwork
- Shape Veggies into Fun Figures
- Blend Veggies in Favorite Fruit Juices
- Link Veggies to Superpowers
- Involve Kids in Cooking Veggies
- Grow Veggies at Home
- Hide Veggies in Cheese Sauce
- Assemble Rainbow Veggie Skewers
- Serve Veggies in Varied Forms
- Incorporate Veggies into Familiar Dishes
Create a Vegetable Artwork
One of the most engaging ways to make veggies more appealing to children is to turn the plate into a canvas of colors. Nature offers us a rainbow of vegetables: vibrant reds from bell peppers, sunny yellows from summer squash, and deep purples from eggplants. By presenting a variety of these colorful veggies on a plate, you not only make the meal visually striking but also stimulate a child’s curiosity.
Instead of merely serving them, involve your child in the preparation. Allow them to create vegetable-based artwork on their plate: a sun with carrot rays or a tree with broccoli florets. This activity draws them into a story where they’re the heroes, eager to consume their beautiful creations. When children imaginatively engage with their food, they’re more likely to enjoy and appreciate the nutritious treasures vegetables offer.
Shape Veggies into Fun Figures
One creative way to make veggies more appealing for kids is to turn them into colorful and interesting shapes. You can use a cookie cutter for that. For this, cut the vegetables, like carrots, radishes, or bell peppers, into fun shapes like stars, hearts, or animals, making them visually attractive. Kids are often more willing to try veggies when they look fascinating. Serve these with dips to make them more tasty, and thus, you’ll encourage healthier eating habits in playful ways.
Blend Veggies in Favorite Fruit Juices
A green juice can contain anything you want it to. Green juice makes even the most unappealing vegetables, like kale, taste great. The key is to get the proportions just right so that your kids’ preferred flavor stands out.
For example, you can prepare a totally yummy flavored green juice by adding apples, lemon, kale, cucumber, ginger, carrot, grapes, and whatnot. Kids enjoy making these green juices and often suggest more ingredients to add. As a result, they also get excited about drinking their own creation and voila! They are sorted with their greens of the day.
Link Veggies to Superpowers
When watching my nephew, this trick always works: Link vegetables to superpowers. For instance, pretty much every kid wants superpowers or wants to be like a superhero, so tell them how eating their veggies can help achieve that goal. Want laser-eye vision? Eat your carrots! Want unbreakable bones? Best to eat all your broccoli. Try it out!
Involve Kids in Cooking Veggies
Cooking with your kids is actually a really helpful way to encourage them to eat more vegetables. When they have a role in the cooking, they can see how something is being made, and it tends to pique their curiosity. Offering them the vegetable to try after they helped to cook it can have a much better success rate than cooking it on your own.
Allowing them to taste it during the process is fun because they can taste and see how it changes. For example, giving them a raw baby carrot, then cooking it in spices, and then offering them the same thing can encourage more creativity. It might make it easier for your kids to eat their veggies!
Grow Veggies at Home
Grow a few yourself. Kids love seeing the results of a little home gardening. From there, they’re much more open to trying a squash, bell pepper, or eggplant when they help grow it from seed to plate.
Try starting with peppers. They’re one of the easier things to grow, produce a lot, and help to get kids excited about gardening. They’re also able to be used to cook exciting dishes like homemade Mexican food that the kids will probably eat. Then, when you want to make that eggplant parmesan, you can remind them how great that dish was made with the peppers you grew together.
Hide Veggies in Cheese Sauce
The way I get my kids to eat their veggies is by making them in a cheese sauce. It’s really creamy, and my kids don’t even realize that my cheese sauce contains veggies. In fact, they ask me to make it for them as a side dish for every dinner.
So, if you’re struggling to get your kids to eat their veggies, simply cut them fine and hide them in a cheese sauce. You can use broccoli or cauliflower so your kids get a wide profile of micronutrients. And if you’re vegan and don’t eat cheese, opt for dairy-free cheese.
Assemble Rainbow Veggie Skewers
During a period when my business partner and I were heavily involved in the gaming industry, we noticed our screen time often resulted in neglecting healthy eating habits. To promote healthier eating habits among our children, we came up with a simple yet innovative idea: Rainbow Veggie Skewers.
We would choose bright vegetables such as bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and purple cabbage, and arrange them on skewers. Presenting vegetables in this vibrant, enjoyable way turned it into a game for them: “Can you eat all the colors of the rainbow today?”
This fun challenge not only made them enthusiastic about vegetables, but also transformed mealtime into a joyous event, reminding us that creativity isn’t confined to the digital realm.
Serve Veggies in Varied Forms
Serving vegetables in different forms can be a great way to get your kids to eat more of them. Maybe they love raw carrots or roasted broccoli. You won’t know until you try, so it helps to cook them in a variety of ways to see what your kids enjoy and to also show them the many ways you can cook vegetables.
The science behind raw and cooked veggies is pretty cool, and the interest in it can be appealing to your kids. It can encourage them to always try new things.
Incorporate Veggies into Familiar Dishes
By incorporating vegetables into familiar and cherished dishes, parents can make vegetables more appealing to children. For instance, spinach, carrots, and zucchini can be blended into a pasta sauce or broth. This not only provides nutrition but also disguises the vegetables.
Another strategy is to develop vegetable-based treats, such as sweet potato fries and cauliflower “popcorn.” These healthier alternatives mimic the texture and flavor of popular munchies.
Additionally, consider blending fruits and vegetables to create vegetable beverages. You can even allow children to create their own smoothie recipes, which will encourage their participation and make the experience more delightful.
In the end, the key is to be inventive and experiment with various ways to incorporate vegetables into meals and snacks, while bearing in mind the tastes and preferences of the children you are serving.
Martin Seeley, CEO, Mattress Next Day