The great fight-o-the-veggies is a thing most parents go through at some point. Some researchers think it has to do with evolution, as kids become adverse to certain foods at the same time they become more mobile and apt to wander from the tribe, so to speak. Kids are often more sensitive to certain tastes as well, and thankfully this is something that is usually outgrown. Because if it wasn’t, I would go NUTS.
With the exception of my son, who for some reason loves the ever living hell out of his veggies, dinner time has been a struggle for the last few years. Right when my oldest daughter was outgrowing her vegetable-aversion, my middle child was there to pick up the sword and fight the good fight (against nutrition). Along the way I picked up some great (and not so great) ways to get my bratlings to eat vegetables.
1. Shredded carrots are my secret weapon
Shredded carrots are magical. I’ve managed to sneak them into things you couldn’t imagine. Chocolate cake, chicken and dumplings, mac and cheese. I use them instead of sugar in my pasta sauce recipe to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes. I’ll admit, I got the idea from Jessica Seinfeld‘s Deceptively Delicious, but I think I brought sneaky vegetable guerilla warfare to a whole new level. I am a shredded carrot ninja.
Sanctimommies, you better grab your smelling salts and put on your “clutching” pearls, because I have a confession. I am not above bribing my kids into submission. Yes, I will promise my daughter her favorite lollipop after dinner if she tried a new vegetable with no shame. This is how I got her to finally eat corn (which I know doesn’t really count as a vegetable, but don’t take this away from me).
3. Covering the veggies in other stuff
When my husband was little, his mom would cover his carrots with maple syrup. He actually still eats them this way occasionally. While the thought of this legitimately sickens me, it certainly works with the five and under crowd, so I hold my nose and do it sometimes.
(Photo: ang mcdougald photography)
4. Showing my kids how veggies are grown
One of the best pieces of advice I was given on this subject was to grow some vegetables with the kids so they can see how it works, the idea being that they will want to eat what they grew. Of course, I have a brown thumb (brown as in dead plants). So I might get the kids started on a nice little garden, which does incentivize them to eat other veggies, but everything always dies no matter what I do and the whole plan kind of falls flat. I am glad this isn’t pioneer days because I would’ve been screwed.
(Photo: The Micro Gardener)
5. When in doubt…DIPS
Dips are a parent’s best friend. Kids won’t eat carrot sticks? Ranch it up. They won’t go for broccoli? CHEESE. Seriously though, dips work and they don’t have to be that unhealthy. I’ve found that kids will eat almost anything in dip form, including humus, greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Cheese dip is actually the answer to most of life’s problems…and you can throw in some shredded carrots too!