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How to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables: 12 Different Ways!
We all know that veggies are good for us and our children. It’s one of the first foods we give our children as babies, in baby food, along with fruits and baby cereal. But, once they become toddlers it can be difficult to get them to eat veggies, and parents will often ask How to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables now?
Which veggies for kids do we try to even start with now?
**Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietitian or a professional nutritionist. I simply believe in eating well for people of all ages, and I believe that a whole foods plant based diet is eating well, whereas processed foods are not.
It was so simple back then when they were babies, right?
And, for some reason we forget how easy it was to get veggies into their diets; especially when our kids start being more independent and trying to choose what they eat all by themselves!
But, there are a few options to choose from when trying to help, or guide, your kids’ eating habits to those veggies you know are good for them!
Options for “How do you get kids to eat veggies?”
You could explain to them how important veggies are for them to grow healthy and strong.
Or, if they’re still young, you could just sneak the veggies into their food and avoid the ‘I don’t want to eat it’ fight, all together!
Then, explain to them, when they’re older that they actually do like the veggies!
Don’t forget to show them how you hid their veggies in their food, so they know how to do it themselves. But, you may want to wait to tell them this until they understand the importance of eating veggies, and will eat them willingly. Such as, what vitamins and minerals they contain and what would happen to them if they didn’t get a certain nutrient.
(And, you might want to expect for them to be a little irritated by your tactics, but don’t worry; they’ll thank you when they’re older and living on their own…hopefully!)
If you would rather have the fight with them every day, several times a day, about eating their veggies; go right ahead! It’s up to you!
I tend to do half and half with my two little girls. Half the time I hide my girls veggies, half the time they’re right there in the open on their plates. Can you guess which ones they eat first!?
Other Ways to Get Kids to Eat More Vegetables WITHOUT Hiding Them
If you’re dead set against hiding veggies in your childs food, you could try:
- turning their veggie options into a rainbow (and challenge them to eat the rainbow everyday)
- season their veggies, some kids don’t like them plain
- experiment with roasted, raw, steamed veggies, or you could even turn the veggies into a sauce
- have your kids help you in the kitchen
- have them try ‘just one bite’
- make veggies fun
- add veggies as a side to a favorite meal
- let them know that their favorite character loves veggies and trying new things
- reverse psychology (tell them ‘not’ to eat it- learn more about this method here)
I am sure there are many more ideas for what you can do to get your child to eat veggies, but let’s get on to how to add veggies to food to actually help get veggies into your childs diet; whether or not they think they will like them!
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12 Different Ways to Get Veggies into Your Childs Diet
The best way to ensure your child is getting enough veggies is by adding them to food your child already loves. These foods may show that that the veggies are in them, and some may hide the veggies!
1. Start with Smoothies!
I love smoothies! I got a nutribullet almost 4 and a half years ago and have used it practically everyday since!
My girls also love to have what I’m having!
Even if they have the same exact food in front of them; they want my food.
So, instead of getting upset that I can never eat my own food, or drink my own drinks; I double the food, or in this case drink, and just share it with them!
Win-win; I get to actually have some of my smoothie, and I get tons of fruits, veggies, and healthy fats and proteins, into my girls!
You can put so many amazing things in smoothies, and adding in certain veggies won’t really alter the taste too much.
My girls will drink my all time favorite smoothie without a second thought! And, I put in at least half a cup of squished down spinach in it!
They love it!
If you want to really hide the veggies, using a green leafy veggie may not be your best choice. They tend to turn the whole smoothie green.
I’d recommend adding in softened beets, or another softened veggie that has the same color as the fruits in it. Unless of course, if it’s St Patrick’s Day, then go right ahead and keep it green and tell them a leprechaun did it!!
Find out why else you need a nutribullet and what other things you can do with it, in my posts below!!
If your kids love popsicles, whether in the summertime like most people do, or in the winter time like my girls do; you can certainly make your own and add in veggies!
It’s much better for them this way, even without the veggies! It’s always best to have complete control over what ingredients go into your kids food!
In fact, I usually make popsicles from the smoothie recipe above! It’s as simple as making a smoothie, adding it to a popsicle mold, and then leaving it in the freezer over night.
You could be as creative, or as lazy, with this as you want. If you’re kids don’t get offended with you adding veggies into these, they could even help make them!
Whether you want a sweet or savory breakfast, you can do so by adding in veggies!
You’re kids may not even notice a difference! (Depending on which veggies you add in.)
The pancake recipes I usually make for my kids, I thought were pretty healthy; until I came across the recipe below!
See, I usually add fruit to my girls pancakes; like bananas, and apples or blueberries. But, the thing is, I can get my girls to eat fruit plain, and anytime during the day. They love fruit, and if I ask them what they want for snacks; 9 times out of 10, it’s going to be a piece of fruit!
So, adding in a veggie, like sweet potatoes or pumpkins, instead of bananas is just brilliant! It’s still going to be sweet, but add in different nutrients.
In the recipe below, the pumpkin takes the place of eggs in the pancakes, which in my eyes makes them way healthier. It takes the cholesterol and saturated fat right out of them; and adds in healthy carbs, vitamins, and minerals. Yay!
Check it out:
Like pancakes, you can also make waffles with different veggie ingredients.
Take the recipe below for example. Those waffles won’t only give you more energy through out the morning from the extra nutrients from the pumpkin, it also just looks pretty!
Of course, what the waffles look like will depend on your waffle maker. Mine will have a spiderman spider imprint on it…always. Get it here to have some superhero fun at breakfast with your kids; they may even enjoy what you make with it more, simply because of the way it looks!
Check out the recipe:
Who doesn’t love muffins!
Both my girls are big fans of muffins, as am I! Hmmm….I wonder where they get that from….
But, in all seriousness, I make a couple dozen of muffins a month and keep them in my freezer for snacks or quick breakfasts. Or, early breakfasts, when we’re starving and wake up too early to think about what we want, or I just don’t feel like making anything.
And, I have a few go to muffin recipes. The two recipes below are always made every couple of months, along with my blueberry muffin recipe and/or a chocolate chip muffin recipe. We have to have some sort of balance; one muffin focused on fruits or veggies, and then one that is super sweet and healthy!
Try out this Chocolate Zucchini Muffins Recipe; the chocolate will hide the fact that there’s even a vegetable in it, plus make it super moist and delicious!
And, we absolutely love this Sweet potato muffins recipe. By the way, the recipes on this site are amazing, whenever I search for some healthy and vegan dessert, his recipes always come up; I try them, and I’m always super impressed by the outcome! I don’t know why I get so surprised by this anymore, I’ve been coming across his recipes for almost 2 years now!!
And, what’s not to love! It’s moist, delicious, and you don’t even taste the zucchini; perfect for feeding our picky eaters who claim to ‘hate’ veggies, or think they’re ‘disgusting’!
You could even make chocolate zucchini bread using the muffin recipe above! You may need to add some extra time for it to fully bake, though. The time, in general, just needs to be doubled. It’s usually about 20 minutes for muffins and 40 minutes for ‘quick’ bread, at the same temperature. Just check it with a fork or toothpick to make sure it’s done!
Just like breads, you can include veggies in cakes, too!
Ever heard of carrot cake?
Just cut the sugar in half if you can, and maybe make some other substitutions to make it a bit healthier. As parents, we don’t need our kids to have any more sugar than absolutely necessary for the cake to taste good.
When searching through recipes, I tend to find that I can easily cut the sugar in half, or even replace it with maple syrup to make it even healthier, and less harmful for our kids.
You could even take a bread recipe, cook it in a cake pan instead and add some frosting or icing to it. Do this with carrot cake, or a zucchini bread/muffin recipe. What kid is going to turn down cake?!
It’s kind of amazing how many different types of food we can make with the same recipe, simply by changing the shape and baking time!
8. Cookies (yes, I said cookies!!)
Cookies for breakfast!! And, no I’m not talking about Cookie Crisp; that cereal is horrible for you!
I’m talking healthy, nutrient filled, cookies for breakfast.
The kind that has some fiber, vitamins, and minerals to them.
The kind that you’re kids will ask you for in the morning, simply because they want to get away with eating cookies for breakfast!
Cookies that even you will approve for them to eat first thing when they wake up! Go ahead, and try out the ones below!
9. Banana Ice cream
Call it monster ice cream and add some spinach to home made banana ice cream, or completely hide it in chocolate peanut butter banana ice cream!
Either way, I find it hard that a child wouldn’t eat this; unless they’re just entirely against any type of cold treat, or despise bananas!
For the chocolate version; simply cut up a few bananas and freeze them for a few hours, or overnight. When they’re frozen, blend them with some soy milk (or milk of your choice), add in some peanut butter (or almond butter), some cocoa, spinach, and a drop or two of vanilla (optional) and blend!
If they like it extremely soft serve; use a nutribullet. If they like it thick; use a food processor. Or, you could always use a regular blender, but I honestly don’t even own a regular blender. So, I’m not sure on how it’ll turn out.
10. Home Made Vegan MAC
There seems to be a lot of ideas on this list about getting veggies into our kids through their snacks and sweet breakfasts, so I’m going to try to add in some actual meals for lunches or dinners!
So, for a lunch or a dinner, you could really hide veggies into this mac and cheese recipe. It’s just like macaroni and cheese, but a super food powered version (and without the cheese)! My girls actually beg me for this, even when they were toddlers. If I use the small shell pasta to make this, my older daughter calls it the mac and cheese from Panera.
11. Home made fries (call them french fries)
One food that your kids may actually eat without even having to sneak in the veggie, are fries.
If your kids are used to eating out, or love the occasional fast food trip; then they probably love french fries.
And, sure, french fries when from fast food chains or restaurants, aren’t all that great for you. But, what if you made them. At home. In your oven. With real ingredients! It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, time consuming, or difficult!
I make fries at home all the time for my girls, myself, and my husband, and no one complains that they’re eating veggies! Use white potatoes, or red, purple, or even sweet potatoes; it doesn’t matter! Or, if you want to try something really different, make them with eggplants or zucchini!
Pizza is a little different than other foods you can hide veggies in; the veggies tend to be a bit more noticeable on the top of pizza. Unless you eat cheese, like the majority of people in this country do; then you can go ahead and hide the veggies underneath the cheese. But, they’ll probably show through anyways.
Or, go ahead and make eggplant or zucchini mini pizzas! My two year old is a huge fan of these; they’re a little more her size!
Note on Hiding Vegetables in a Childs’ Food
I know there is controversy on whether or not you should hide veggies for kids. There’s certainly pros and cons to doing it.
- kids get the vitamins and minerals they need and maintain optimal health
- if they don’t know they’re eating veggies, they can’t get mad at you for feeding them veggies
- they could get mad at you when they find out they are eating veggies
- they don’t learn to love veggies on their own
All in all, it’s really up to you, what you choose to do for your kids; you can certainly use the recipes above whether you want to hide veggies in your kids meals or not. It’s going to depend a lot on you and your child and how they’re prepared.
I would highly recommend to not hide food if your child is a pre-teen or teenager.
They’re old enough to understand the importance, as long as you teach them about it!
Don’t just rely on your childs school to teach them about nutrition; good chance you’ll be disappointed in how little is actually taught. Plus, the older they get, the more independent they will want to be; they should get a choice for what goes into their body. But, you, as the parent, need to teach them how it will affect their minds and bodies; they won’t know unless they are taught!
If your child is little still, like 5 and under, and they ‘don’t like’ veggies because someone else said they don’t like veggies, then hiding them in other foods, at first, may be beneficial. Then, just make sure to explain to them how yummy those veggies actually are, and that they already eat them, they just don’t notice.
Make sure you eat veggies in front of them, as well. Otherwise they won’t want them if you’re not eating them; be a good example for your kids with your eating habits!
My 5 year old has been at a stage lately where she thinks about 50% of the food I give her is disgusting, so believe me, I get it! It’s hard to get kids to eat what we want them to. Whether it’s making sure they get enough veggies, or protein; it can sometimes be a real struggle.
So, take the food ideas from above and use them to your advantage; either in the way I suggested, or in your own way!