Disclaimer :: This post contains content sponsored and written by Hardie’s Fresh Foods to bring mama’s some ideas and encouragement when it comes to getting kiddos to eat a healthy diet.
There isn’t a parent alive that hasn’t struggled with introducing healthy foods into their kids’ diet. Fruit is rarely the problem because many fruits are sweet to the taste. Vegetables, well, that’s another story. Few veggies are truly tasty without salt, fat or sugars and that’s how most kids are introduced to them in their first foods. It’s little wonder they get left on the plate!
So here’s a strategy (yes, strategy) to get kids to eat their vegetables. Start slowly, using a variety of ways to get them to start eating vegetables. Once kids feel comfortable eating vegetables, you can introduce them to new, healthier ways of eating them.
Our mission at Hardie’s Fresh Foods is to get them to actually like eating vegetables.
Here are a few ways to get started:
Manage your expectations :: Developing lifelong good eating habits takes time. It takes patience and persistence to get kids to eat almost any new food, and vegetables may need a little, um, extra help. Don’t give up with the first sour face. Research shows that it can take +10 exposures to get kids to like a new food. Remember that the rewards are well worth it.
Buy in season :: Fruit and vegetables never taste better than at the peak of season. As an added bonus, fresh, seasonal vegetables are cheap and abundant when in season. (Hint: You can get a fresh produce box for only $20 from HardiesDirect.com. Keep reading for the details.)
Lead by example :: All little kids look up to big kids, and that includes you! When your kids see you eating fruit and vegetables, they learn from your behavior. Recruit older siblings to help. Make a fuss about the carrots: “Mmmm, yummy!”
- Get some help in the kitchen :: We all know it’s faster and certainly cleaner when you do it yourself, but involving your kids in preparing the meal is a fun way to get them interested in eating it. Have them sprinkle the ingredients into the salad, or mix cold ingredients in a bowl, or push the button on the blender (what kid doesn’t like pushing buttons?!) Combine new foods with things they already like: Add small bits of broccoli to the mac and cheese, or a few diced tomatoes on a slice of pizza. Once they learn to like these foods with their favorites, they are more likely to eat them on their own.
- Combine fun foods :: This is one time when it’s okay to play with your food. Kids learn faster from experiences and making veggies fun, can give them a more positive attitude about them. Learning colors? Fruit and veggies can help. Make funny faces on the plate using fruit and vegetables. Use their imaginations to make veggies more interesting. Broccoli? That’s a little tree!
- Dip it :: My kids would eat almost anything they could dip. I’m not sure if it was the flavor or the fun of dipping that did the trick, but ranch dressing, tomato sauce, and hummus were simply magic when it came to getting them to eat their veggies! Before you judge, remember that our goal here is to get kids used to eating vegetables then introduce new ways of eating them. So dip away!
- Juice it :: Most kids love fruit smoothies. Why not add a little cucumber or spinach to the mix? Stronger flavors of berries and bananas will certainly mask milder vegetable flavors but help add nutrients. Older kids may really enjoy concocting their own imaginative combinations.
- Hide or replace it :: Spaghetti squash looks and tastes a lot like spaghetti pasta with a little marinara on top. Cooked carrots are hard to detect in taco meat. Or how about baked sweet potato tots instead of traditional tater tots.
- Give yourself a break :: We all get stuck in a rut when it comes to shopping, which limits the exposure your kids may get to new foods. Easy access to fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables makes it more likely that you’ll serve them to your family. You can get a fresh produce box for only $20 from HardiesDirect.com. It’s free delivery to Fort Worth, no minimums, no subscriptions and packed full of fruit and vegetables. Even the pickiest eater is guaranteed to find something in the box they’ll like.
Developing good eating habits is a delicious journey. Start small and help your family grow to like fresh fruit and veggies. Like anything with kids, it starts with baby steps.
Michelle Weech is a vice president at Hardie’s Fresh Foods, a local family business that’s supplied fresh ingredients to restaurants throughout Texas for more than 75 years. Michelle was born to work in the produce business, literally. She grew up on a family farm in California where she gained a love of fresh, seasonal foods. Michelle is still a farmer at heart. She resides in DFW with her husband, Jeff, and raises backyard chickens.
Hardie’s now offers the same fresh ingredients, normally reserved for professional chefs to homes through HardiesDirect.com with free delivery, no minimums and no subscription. Locally raised wagyu beef, all natural chicken, fresh fruit and vegetables, artisan cheeses and more. Follow Hardie’s Fresh Foods on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.