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Top tips to get kids to eat more plants (and love it)…

by Okanagan Nutrition

We all want our kids to eat more fruit and vegetables! For some parents it’s a daily struggle to get there kids to eat ANYTHING they cook, let alone their greens. 

No, I don’t have kids myself (yet …), but I have heard colleagues and friends talk about their struggles with meal times and have polled them to see what works! 

I can almost guarantee that if you put a plate of completely unfamiliar food in front of your child, there’s going to be some push back — kicking, screaming, crying, refusal to eat, the whole nine yards. 

So how can you do it? 

Here are my top 5 tips on how to get kids eating more plants! 

Take a meal that your kids LOVE and try adding more plant foods to it.

Pizza, spaghetti, sandwiches or wraps, soups and chili’s are all great dishes that are easy to add more vegetables or legumes to. Make your own pizza and provide a variety of veggies for toppings so they can pick and choose, add some grated carrot or zucchini into pasta sauce, use lentils instead of ground meat in pasta sauce, use hummus instead of mayonnaise on their sandwiches or wraps!

Here are some of my favourite kid friendly, veggie filled recipes courtesy of The Minimalist Baker, Fraiche Nutrition, Chocolate Covered Katie and White Water Cookbook.

Lentil Pasta Sauce 

Veggie Muffins

Black Bean Brownies

Veggie Burger

Get them involved!

This is SO key. Kids should feel like they have some choice in what they are eating, it’s up to you to provide them options though. Give them a few different options for dinner, bring them to the grocery store and spend some time strolling through the produce section, let them pick out a few fruit or veg they’d like to try! Talk to them about different foods and what they are eating!

Offer vegetables as a snack in between meals

Vegetables can often get ignored if they sit on the side of a dinner plate. Instead, make them the star of the show! Cut up some fresh veg and serve with dip before lunch or supper — hummus, nut butter or guacamole are all great dip options! For younger children, make sure that tougher veg, like carrot sticks, broccoli, cauliflower or snap peas, are prepared in a way they can easily eat, slightly steamed or cut up for example.

Have fun with it!

As a kid I loved ants on a log (celery with peanut butter and raisins) or making fruit and veg skewers. Invite kids into the kitchen to help out! Get them to add ingredients for a smoothie into the blender and blend it up. Try adding veg like spinach, kale, avocado or cauliflower into their smoothies. Extra nutrient dense and undetectable add ins include flax seed, chia seeds and hemp hearts or nut butters.

Going on a road trip or plane ride? Pack them a “goody bag” of vegetables, fruit or nuts and seeds!

Chocolate Cauliflower Frosty

Kale Spinach Smoothie

Berry Cauliflower Smoothie

Blood Orange Green Smoothie

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

Don’t make a big deal of it if they don’t eat what you offer.

The best you can do is offer your kids different foods to try – if they don’t want to eat it, don’t force them to or punish them. Just keep trying to offer these foods at different meal or snack times and lead by example. If your kids see you eating those foods, they’re more likely to try them!

Feeding kids can be one of the biggest stressors and frustrations a parent can face. If you’d like to learn more about how to make meals and feedings less of a struggle, I encourage you to visit Ellyn Satter Institute for more in depth information and support.

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All the moms, dads and caregivers in my life!

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