Cooking for kids can be a nightmare, being the notorious picky eaters they are. Incorporating a balanced diet and nourishing meals every day is the sole responsibility of a parent for their growing kids. But it seems to be near to impossible to get them to eat healthy food, especially vegetables with the nasty flavors they carry (well, at least according to the kids). They can leave parents brainstorming for how to make them eat more vegetables, given the unlikable taste they have. It is actually not that difficult to integrate vegetables into their daily diet. You just need to pay more attention to the various colors and textures of the variety of vegetables that you use, and you can have your own invented recipe ready to be cooked!
Here are some effective tips which you can use to include more vegetables in your kids’ meals:
Make it look appealing
A colorful presentation of any meal can tempt the taste buds to try it. As culinary experts say, “We eat with our eyes first.” You can start off by using more colors and lots of varieties, such as carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, and cucumbers. Just put them on a plate, accompanying their main course, or cut them up in animal shapes to make it more playful.
Sneak them in
Preparing a delicious pasta sauce with loads of mashed or finely chopped vegetables can hide away the bleak taste of veggies and can instead excite your kid into finishing the entire course. Sloppy burgers are another way of packing meals with flavor and nourishment. Vegetables will not only make these meals nutritious, but will also provide a nice texture to bite into.
Substituting veggies for not-so-healthy ingredients
Junk food and unhealthy meals are the first preference for kids. So why not turn this weakness to your favor? Your child will happily devour it once you learn the tricks of how to make carrots and many other vegetables they usually refuse to eat more delicious. For example, you can blend the cauliflower into the pizza crust and add colorful veggies on top. This is one meal that your child would definitely gobble up. Or bake vegetable sticks, such as sweet potato or zucchini, and use them as fries. Do not forget to add seasoning. You can also prepare a delicious vegetable dip to accompany the fries to make it a win-win situation.
Experiment and invent
You might have heard the term “zoodles,” which are basically noodles made out of vegetables. You can easily buy choppers, available in most stores, to cut the veggies in the shape of noodles, or you can buy them ready from the grocery store. Again, preparing a veggie-mushy sauce can up the flavor and nutritional value of the meal. Another idea is to use ground cauliflower as rice. Keep on experimenting with your child’s favorite food or cuisine, and you’ll never have to struggle so hard anymore.
Sautéing and buttering
One of the main reasons that children loathe vegetables is the bitterness they taste, and thus they repel. They are obviously too young to understand that the bitterness indicates higher nutritional value. One way to cope up with this issue is to sauté the veggies and add butter to them. This will not only help in making it delicious, but will help the child’s body absorb all the nutrients. Again, do not forget to add seasoning to make it yummier.
Be a role model
Kids tend to take after the habits of the adults they are surrounded with. You need to incorporate healthy habits into your diet for your child to learn and take after. Eat veggies and healthy food as much as you can when you sit to dine with your kid. Being a role model can help them follow these important habits subs-consciously.
Get them involved
When you cook with your child, you are not only spending quality time with each other, but also induce them to eat what you prepare. It is backed by studies confirming that if you involve your child while cooking, they end up eating and developing a preference towards it. It can also give you the freedom to throw in more vegetables in your recipes than you usually do. Also, it is a great opportunity for your child to learn new things.
Blend them up
Smoothies and juices are another quick and easy way for your child to consume more vegetables. There are a number of recipes online that can provide you with simple steps and ingredients to make a delicious smoothie which your child will instantly gulp down. One simple way is to add a banana, some kale and spinach, and cocoa powder. Not only is it delicious and easy to make, but it also contains a wide scale of nutrients. This way also benefits in adding fruits and other healthy ingredients such as nuts, seeds, healthy cereals like oats, and/or milk.
Desserts are for life
Desserts are, no question, preferred by everyone, children and adults alike. Even though you are filled, desserts somehow make a way-because they go directly to the heart! And kids are more inclined towards eating sweets, cakes, and chocolate. Taking the maximum benefit of this, you can slyly add vegetables or protein-filled beans as an ingredient, which will definitely not give you the bitter veggie taste but would make it more interesting. Some tasty combinations for veggie desserts include chocolate kale cake, spinach and lemon bars, carrot cake, pumpkin and avocado brownies, veggie ice pops, and cucumber basil sorbet. Of course, there are more, but you can invent your own recipes according to the type of veggies you want to include.
Some of these tips are pretty easy to be included in your daily life, which can also help in making the boring task of cooking exciting for you. Of course, you need to be patient to witness an outcome, but adopting such a positive attitude and teaching them by being an exemplar can make your kids switch to the right habits. But be sure to not force them, because they would end up hating vegetables even more, and you would keep on trying forever in vain.