My own kids are actually pretty good eaters, but if there’s one thing I wish they’d be just a little more adventurous about, it’s vegetables. Most parents are probably with me on that one. Haven’t you often wished your kids would just eat their veggies, and not just their French fries?
I’ve even heard people, including comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s wife Jessica, proclaim that you should just hide vegetables in your kids’ food. (Pureed squash in the hamburger patties, pureed zucchini in your homemade brownies.) But I don’t think that’s a good idea for the long haul. For one thing, it’s a lot more work. For another, it doesn’t really teach them good eating habits, and it won’t get them to eat their broccoli once you’re not smashing it up and hiding it in something else.
Summer has such an array of great, fresh vegetables, it’s a great time to try to broaden your kids’ horizons.
Let them pick: Visit the produce section together, and let them choose something new to try each week. At FRESH, we carry so many interesting, colorful, unusual things that kids just may be curious about – purple cauliflower, little round 8-ball squash, gold grape tomatoes, crunchy jicama. Don’t worry if they select something you’re not sure what to do with; our produce staff can help you out with cooking suggestions, or there’s always Google. If they pick out something odd, make it a family project to decide how to serve it.
Cook together: It’s often true that when children help make a meal, they’re more interested in trying it. Even small kids can help wash vegetables, measure ingredients or stir sauces.
Try it a new way: Your kids didn’t like zucchini the first time you served it sautéed? Try grilling it. Not fans of stewed okra? Batter and fry it. Grilling, frying, or adding a new sauce all seem to improve chances of kids’ liking almost any vegetable, I’ve found. And kids who wouldn’t touch a raw carrot may just love them cooked, or vice versa.
Set a good example: Like it or not, children do learn by watching us. If they see Mom and Dad skipping salad and loading up on chips, it will be hard to convince them to do the opposite.
Institute the one-bite rule: Research suggests that people have to try some new foods up to 10 times before they actually like them! So, even if your child insists they’ve tried okra (or cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts) and didn’t like them, you need to insist they try at least one bite. For one thing, tastes change, and for another, different preparations or sauces can make a big difference. Just don’t make it a battleground. If they don’t like that first bite, don’t make them clean their plate; just wait, and serve the vegetable again later.