Including a good mixture of all appropriate foods in your child’s diet is a must…but many parents struggle when it comes to the items which children don’t take to so easily…yes, I’m talking vegetables!
Many younger children struggle when it comes to eating their greens and this is partly to do with the strong flavours of some vegetables. Many children do not mature in terms of their taste buds until they are over ten years old and rebel when asked to eat their broccoli, beans or peas!
The good news is that vegetables and salads can be disguised within other foods and also made to appear more fun…and so more appealing to children.
Some tips to “hide” vegetables in favourite food are as follows;
If you know that your child enjoys hot dogs, as many children do, then add a little shredded raw carrot into the tomato sauce before you serve it. Finely grated raw carrots will be almost undetectable when the child is already munching the bread and the sausage.
Pop a few green beans into a burger and bun, cut them finely and slip them beneath the burger. They do not have a strong flavour and if your child likes onions with their burger, a few green beans should go unnoticed!
Many children enjoy chicken soup and this is a great opportunity to blend together a nice selection of greens and add them to the soup. They won’t be noticeable at all and will in fact add to the flavour.
Finely chopped broccoli will “disappear” on a pizza which is already loaded with your child’s favourite treats such as ham and pineapple. Other good vegetables to secrete in pizza toppings include carrots and cabbage; the trick is to chop them finely or grate them.
Let your child assist you in the kitchen, this is a good way to demystify food and even small toddlers can help by popping things into bowls or by setting out cutlery. Helping children to learn where vegetables come from is a good way of encouraging them to enjoy eating them.
Show children vegetables which are growing in the garden; if you do not have space to grow vegetables there are some things such as tomatoes, cress and lettuce which will grow happily in containers…you can create a salad bar right on your own windowsill.
A child who has had a hand in the growth of their meal will be far more inclined to give it a try.
Arrange your child’s food in fun ways on their plate; create faces, animals and vehicles from the salad or vegetables which they are being served. Packed lunches can also be made more fun by serving them in individual pots, adding stickers to fruit or even drawing faces on them!
Your child’s relationship with food is dependent on your attitude; don’t be anxious about your child’s diet unless there are health issues. Let them discover and enjoy food at their own pace and they will develop a healthy eating habit which should last them a lifetime.