Every parent knows how difficult but also, important it is to encourage children to eat vegetables. We should keep in mind that vegetables contain many vitamins and elements that are vital for good health and development. In this article, we will learn some tricks and ideas to help you make vegetables more appealing to your children and get them excited about mealtime!
Blending food is a great way to encourage children to eat vegetables. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to encourage eating vegetables by blending them:
- Choose a variety of vegetables: Select a combination of vegetables that you or the person you’re encouraging, enjoy, or aim for a mix of flavors and colors to make the blended vegetable concoction more appealing.
- 2. Wash and prepare the vegetables: Thoroughly wash the vegetables under running water to remove any dirt or residue. Chop them into small pieces to make blending easier and faster.
- Select a blender: Use a high-powered blender or a food processor that can handle blending vegetables into a smooth consistency. Add in veggies progressively.
- Add liquid: To make the blending process smoother, add a liquid base. You can use water, vegetable broth, unsweetened almond milk, or any other liquid of your choice. Start with a small amount and gradually add more if needed.
- Experiment with flavors: To enhance the taste, you can add additional flavors. Consider adding a squeeze of lemon, a dash of herbs, and/or spices (garlic, ginger, basil, or cilantro). What’s more, purees, creams, and smoothies allow us to camouflage the bitter or bland taste of many vegetables with a sweeter one, by adding carrots, beetroot, or even dates.
- Serve creatively: Presentation can make a difference in how appealing it looks. Serve it in a colorful bowl or glass, garnish it with a sprinkle of chopped herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, or a dollop of Greek yogurt. Experiment with different toppings to add texture and visual appeal.
- Incorporate into meals: Use the blended veggies as a base for soups, sauces, or dips. You can also incorporate them into smoothies, stews, or casseroles to encourage children to eat vegetables.
- Gradual transition: If you or someone you’re encouraging to eat vegetables is not accustomed to their taste, start by blending small amounts of vegetables into familiar foods.
- Lead by example: Show enthusiasm for eating vegetables yourself and let others see you enjoying them. When people see that you genuinely appreciate and enjoy your food, they may be more likely to give it a try.
Raw or steamed veggies
Getting children to eat steamed and raw veggies can be a challenge, but there are several strategies you can try to make them more appealing. Here are some tips:
- Make it fun and interactive: Involve children in the process of selecting, preparing, and serving vegetables. Take them to the grocery store or farmer’s market and let them choose the vegetables they want to try. Allow them to help with washing, peeling, or cutting (under adult supervision). Playing a part in preparing the meal, will encourage children to eat vegetables.
- Offer a variety of colors and textures: Kids are often attracted to vibrant colors, so include a variety of colorful vegetables like red bell peppers, yellow squash, or purple cabbage. Try to incorporate vegetables with different textures, such as crunchy carrots, crisp cucumbers, or smooth cherry tomatoes. The variety of colors and textures can make the plate visually appealing and interesting.
- Create appealing shapes and arrangements: Use cookie cutters to shape raw vegetables into fun shapes like stars, hearts, or animals. Arrange the veggies into a smiley face or a rainbow on the plate. You can also make vegetable kebabs or skewers with bite-sized pieces. The visual appeal can make eating vegetables more exciting for children.
- Serve with dips, dressings, or toppings: Kids often enjoy dipping their food. Offer a selection of healthy dips or dressings like hummus, yogurt-based ranch, or homemade salsa. Sprinkle a small amount of shredded cheese, grated Parmesan, or chopped herbs. These flavorful accompaniments can make steamed or raw vegetables more enjoyable to eat.
Be patient and persistent
As adults, we are able to encourage children to eat vegetables, however, it may be a process that requires multiple attempts. Offer vegetables regularly, even if they are initially rejected. Continue to introduce new vegetables and flavors gradually, allowing children to develop their tastes over time.
Quality time together
Quickly preparing food while your child is watching cartoons or playing games is sometimes practical and necessary, but it doesn’t usually create much of an appetite. How about involving them in the preparation? Materlu has a lovely story called “The Great Chef” which demonstrates how much fun preparing food together can be. There are some tasks your child can easily do. By giving them tasks to do in the kitchen, appropriate for their age and always taking safety into account, they feel important and will become proud of the results. Working together and helping each other is a fun activity and this makes for a healthy appetite. Besides, children love anything that involves Mum and Dad’s company. Additionally, being in the kitchen surrounded by smells, handling the ingredients and, of course, getting to taste things is sure to work up an appetite. Little ones will gladly sit down to eat the fruits of their labor!
Marketing: playing with food
Combine eating vegetables with play. Because if something is fun, it is much easier to get them to eat it. Why not sit in front of the plates with your little one and have a question-and-answer session? Whoever adds two numbers wrongly or gets a word wrong has to eat a piece of the vegetable that they don’t like. You can give rewards for finishing eating, and extra rewards if they manage to eat all of the vegetables on the plate. The prize could be reading a story with you, and extra rewards could be enjoying an ice cream while you read it to them. Or how about preparing a “blind” meal? Blindfold them and then they try to guess what they are eating. The mere act of eating food without being able to see it is a challenge in itself. A variation of this game could also make your child an expert: prepare a plate of various ingredients for them and ask them to taste each part carefully, assigning points to categories such as taste, color, texture, sweetness, intensity, level of crunchiness, etc. In addition, taking their opinion seriously will not only help you to find out which vegetables they like, to be able to take it into account when preparing food, but it will also strengthen your bond and help your little ones gain confidence in themselves.
This article does not claim to be the answer, far from it, but we hope it inspires you to prepare unforgettable vegetable dishes for your children. In any case, if at any point your creativity starts to waver, simply look to one of Materlu’s fun stories. They have the power to awaken adults’ and children’s imaginations, alike.
Remember that everyone’s taste preferences are different, so it may take some trial and error to find the right combinations and flavors that work for you or the person you’re encouraging. Don’t be discouraged if someone doesn’t immediately embrace blended vegetables—it can take time for tastes to adapt. Also, make sure to consider dietary restrictions when implementing these strategies.