Why Are Vegetables Important?
I mean let’s answer this first… because vegetables for most parents are an effort. I hear ya, so why do our kids need them?
Basically, our kids need three things. fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Vegetables are the (healthy) carbohydrates in our diet. Vegetables also have tons of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. There are plenty of these that we can only find in vegetables. These vitamins are essential for things like eyesight, wound healing, and immune support.
Nutrients From Vegetables
The vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in vegetables are endless. These are the main nutrients that are coming from vegetables:
Vitamin A is found in vegetables that green, orange and yellow.. Vitamin A helps with detoxification, proper organ function, and inflammation in our kid’s fragile bodies. Other options for vitamin A: cantaloupe, apricots, and mangos.
Vitamin C is found a lot in orange vegetables. This helps a ton with immune support, hello orange juice, but carrots and sweet potatoes are good for this too! They also contain the phytonutrient beta carotene, which is an essential for sight.
Leafy greens, for most, is one of the most difficult to get children to eat. They are packed full of iron. Y'all, this is an important one, because your body needs it to make hemoglobin. Without hemoglobin your red blood cells can't carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. If you aren’t able to get this in their diet try pumpkin seeds and cashews for iron rich foods.
Green vegetables are full of zinc. This is one of the harder categories to get children to eat in my opinion. This is you green beans and brussel sprouts. Zinc is essential for physical growth and neurological development.
What category are you having the hardest time with? Think about those vegetables as you read the following section. Variety is key here.
6 Tips to Get Kids Eating Vegetables
1. Get Them Involved
I know that you have heard this before, but it does really work. Here a few tips… take them grocery shopping, let them pick which bunch of broccoli you buy. Try our grocery store game, here. Let them tear the lettuce for the salad, or use a muffin tin for snacks full of different colored vegetables. We have a ton of fun tips over on our instagram story highlights or the #simplywholesnacktivity.
2. Make Them Taste Good
I have such clear memories as a kid of my mom serving whole brussels sprouts that were previously frozen, then steamed. Love you mom, but gross!
Use butter, it makes everything taste better! Don’t be afraid to top vegetables in organic cheese. Buy fresh real herbs, experiment with spices. I pretty much always serve vegetables with dips… carrots and hummus, roasted broccoli with honey mustard.
3. Don’t Miss Opportunities
You have to get the vegetables in every where… breakfast and snack too. Not just dinner time. I think this is so easy to overlook these meals, because of the hustle of life.
For breakfast we do sweet potato, butternut squash, hidden veggie muffins, and sweet potato pancakes.
For snacks we do pesto as a dip, veggie chips (kale chips), guacamole, and lots of smoothies.
4. Come to the Table Hungry
They have to be hungry to eat. If you serve dinner with a huge piece of bread and fruit… they will eat that. Guess what, that will be enough for them to walk away from the rest. We don’t have fruit or bread at meal time. I generally save that for snack time.
Don’t let them over snack, set a routine and stick to it. This will help everyone be hungry when it is time to eat.
5. Lean In
What vegetables are they eating, what food do they like? Lean in to those foods. If they love mac and cheese, try to find a hidden vegetable recipe with butternut squash. Say they love snap peas, be sure that is a regular part of their diet. Jot down the foods your kids love, and a spend a few minutes thinking how to make vegetables more a part of that.
6. Hide it
There should be caution with this one, because you aren’t necessarily solving the problem, just skirting it. You know your kid though, and this option might be a good one for you. You can hide vegetables in all kinds of things: pancakes, smoothies, pasta sauce, muffins, applesauce, mac and cheese, and Popsicles.