Veggies get a bad wrap. Most of our kids (especially our picky eaters) will eww and ick at the sight of green stuff. We can change that by changing the types of veggies we offer.
While our kids may not get giddy over brussel sprouts today, or fight for the last fiddlehead tomorrow, there are veggies you can offer with some success. In other words, there are some fabulous vegetables most kids will want to eat!
These are five of the first veggies my daughter Sienna (and my formerly extremely picky eater) added to her list of favourites pretty quickly.
In the eyes of a child, frozen peas are a heck of a lot more fun than their cooked counterpart. Frozen peas offer a crunchy texture making it easier to eat. However the skin on a cooked pea requires a little more work from an oral motor perspective. Plus, frozen foods of any kind often work quite well with children who have sensory challenges. So I often recommend giving these little ones some ice cubes or a popsicle to nosh on before a meal (to “wake up” their mouth).
So…ask your little guy if they want their peas cooked or frozen tonight. And if they don’t want to try them, no problem! Use them for play and practice their counting skills instead (i.e. what happens when there are 5 peas and mommy eats 2 of them?).
I’m cheating a little by including peas twice on this list, but I’d be remiss not to mention this gem of a veggie. When we add a bit of entertainment to eating, kids are more inclined to stick around at the table…and even stick something in their mouth. I know a few kids who get a kick out of picking the peas from the pod (my daughter included). So we throw a bowl of these raw (or steamed) beans on the table and let her go fishing for those green gems!
Like Snap Peas, edamame is a fun veggie with little green legumes hiding in their pods. You can order at Japanese restaurants or grab a bag at your local grocer. They are usually in the frozen section. Just make sure your little one knows not to eat the pod itself!
A little imagination goes a long way at the table…or in front of the TV. While I encourage most meals to happen at the dinner table, it’s totally fine to change up the mealtime scenery every once in a while. Book in a movie night (maybe “Movie Mondays”) and make a batch of cauliflower popcorn (which is simply roasted tender cauliflower florets). Better yet, serve the “popcorn” in a popcorn container and offer a flavor shaker with nutritional yeast or parmesan for a cheese-y flavour.
Never thought your little one would touch seaweed? Neither did I! My picky eater used to eat her way through roasted seaweed without a nudge. Thanks to their salty and crunchy combo. You can grab something like these Seasnax or simply cut up a few sheets of nori (the same stuff that is used for sushi rolls). Seaweed can be a great nutrient-dense snack for kids despite being low in calories. It is one of the richest sources of minerals as far as vegetables go, because they have access to the abundant minerals found in the ocean.
Chances are they will not eat the above veggies the first or second or even fifth time. But please, don’t give up! Repetition and regular exposure to these foods (or any new foods you offer) will help to increase their comfort level and willingness to try them…eventually.
So let’s say your little one doesn’t “eat” the cauliflower popcorn. First, take note of how he or she interacted with it. Did they touch it, smell it, lick it, or take a wee bite then spit it out? Any of these are a great first step.
The goal now is to move them up the steps until they are willing to try and eat that cauliflower. These “Try a New Veggie” sticker charts will help you do just that. Download yours!
I created these sticker charts to take the stress out of meals for parents and put a fun spin on trying new veggies. It will walk you through the steps involved to helping kids try new new foods (in this case, new veggies).
Now it’s your turn! Any favourite veggies in your house?