Just the way adult’s think of “vegging” out as stretched prone, doing and accomplishing nothing— that attitude is often already in the kid’s household vibe about vegetables. Kid think that those things just lie there on a plate doing nothing fun, delicious, or treat-like.
Kids often wish those vegetables would take a siesta for good. But keeping a lighthearted view toward vegetables is a good way to start communicating to kids the value and even the pleasures of veggies. With a sense of levity in attitude, the plan is that kids try out veggies as easily as they might try out a new kind of cupcake flavored breakfast cereal!
Indeed, nutritional experts and pediatricians alike both recommend the food pyramid amount of servings of vegetables every day for each age group. Those goal amounts may seem like running a marathon off the bat, but daily little doses of practice for anything will get you somewhere on the road to your goal.
Here are those recommended figures: Kids between ages two and six — 3 servings a day, kids over age six– 3-5 servings a day. A serving is listed as 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, ½ cup cooked or other vegetables than leafy, or ¾ cup vegetable juice.
Veggies Can Be “A-Peeling”
Vegetables, when you really look at them, are foods of silliness, comedy, and beauty. If the family or kids haven’t seen it already, check out the book, How are you Peeling? Foods with Moods by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. It’s filled with photos of veggies with personalities—faces from the funniest to scariest. Who knew a vegetable could look embarrassed, shy, bored, and grumpy? Vegetables don’t have to be thought of as a horrible chore, but with a face and mood to inspire kids’ creative juices—which will add a bit to the taste buds.
Preparing and arranging a pre-dinner appetizer of veggies in a face form has been found to succeed by many a mom. Fiesta face includes vegetables such as baby spinach hair, carrot nose, cherry tomato eyes, red pepper lips, cuke ears, with some flavored yogurts to dip.
Veggies before dinner or in-between meals can be called snacks, as kids feel snacks are cool. For the younger kids, do call your snack trays of veggies the silliest names possible. Many moms rave about their kids’ love of frozen green peas and corn or other frozen veggies for snacks. Just thaw a bit, and they can be bowls of monster eyeballs and teeth.
Thawed green beans are worms. Fresh spinach leaves can be dragon scales, broccoli dinosaur trees, pepper slices are tongues, or wherever your imagination and theirs go. Some moms have reported huge indulgent kid fans for crunchy, salty chunky monkey balls made from sautéing Brussels sprouts in a little butter and salt to the point of overcooking to crispness. Kids say it tastes almost like popcorn but is a lot healthier!
Masked Menus and Delicious Disguises
As with most things, nutritionists and pediatricians agree that training the taste buds to accept and enjoy vegetables is a matter of repetition, setting out the food from 5-even 14 times for just a 1-tablespoon try out.
Many moms have had great successes with adding a touch of sweetness and honey…a drop of maple syrup or a shake of salt that kids can do by themselves. Sweet potato fries (or healthy baked version) can go with a honey and lime juice dip.
Others have gone the hidden route method of adding veggies to things kids already like such as muffins, pizza, sauces. From this idea, there are great recipes available online for carrot turkey meatballs, turkey and bean burgers, mini quiches, and shaping up these balls and patties with the help of the kids.
A neat recipe online is for sweet potato balls using mashed sweets molded around a half a marshmallow. But add any sugar sparingly—just a sprinkle if any, as the sweet potatoes are mighty sweet themselves, and the half a marshmallow is enough extra treat.
Sometimes breadcrumbs are as much loved by kids as they are pigeons’ favorite dish and great veggie success is claimed with green beans, roasted in a little olive oil and tossed with plain or flavored bread crumbs, Italian herbs, and Parmesan cheese.
One thing great about veggies is most of the best have really vibrant color—and if they love the paint on those new M and Ms and other candies, birthday cake frostings that color the tongue for a few hours, keep that in mind when looking at the vegetable. Do cook little to preserve the bright color and the freshest aromas and tastes. Broccoli florets can be microwaved in a tiny bit of water for 1-½ minutes, and many kids will love the crunch rather than the squishiness.
Because kids love pizza, many moms have success putting a paper-thin piece of provolone on the microwaved florets, and another 20-30 seconds adds a layer they love.
Shake It Up!
Smoothies and shakes are often a favorite with kids, and there are a couple of veggie smoothies — most unusual, but delicious with many reported smacked lips. A Spinapple Berry blends spinach, ½ apple, some berries, apple juice, and ice cubes. Green Limeade for Grasshoppers blends spinach, ½ apple, ½ lemon (with washed rind), maple syrup honey or sugar to taste, water and ice. Use tall glass and straws, and even a top of whipped cream.
The thing is to be persistent with fun and levity, rather than making it a power struggle that nobody enjoys – and your kid might just “Veg-Out” in a whole new way!