How To Get Your Kids To Eat Vegetables
At Imagine Health Centers we are often asked the question “How can I get my kids to eat vegetables?”.
This can be challenging as some kids are picky eaters, some don’t like foods of a certain colour and some
children are hesitant to try new food due to allergies. Don’t get discouraged if your child refuses to eat
vegetables as they can be moulded to like (and even love vegetables) with a little bit of encouragement
Vegetables are very important in our lives as they provide healthy fibre, nutrients and vitamins that we
are unable to get from other sources. They are vital to maintaining healthy body functioning and can
even reduce your risk of certain cancers and risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Substitute half the amount of ground beef in your recipe for an equal amount of chopped
mushrooms. Portabello mushrooms work best as they have a similar texture when finely
chopped and are readily available at the grocery store. Remove the stems, scrape off the gills on
the underside of the mushroom with a spoon. Cut tops in half and place the tops into a food
processor. Blend on low until the texture resembles ground beef. Add to the raw beef in your pan,
cook as you would ground beef and enjoy!
- Steam veggies of your choice in a pot with water. Strain veggies, reserving your cooking water.
Place vegetables into a blender and blend until smooth, adding reserved cooking water as
needed to keep blender moving. This puree can be added to soups, pasta sauces, lasagna meat
mix, chili… the possibilities are endless!
- Model behaviour. If you want your kids to eat more vegetables, reflect on your own diet. Kids
model their parents’ behaviour including what the parents eat. If you don’t eat your vegetables,
how can you expect your kids to eat their vegetables?
- Substitute equal amounts of avocados for butter in cookie and muffin recipes. This will give your
products a slight green tinge but will taste great!
- Take your kids grocery shopping with you and let them pick out a vegetable they want to try.
They can even find a recipe to use the vegetable in a way that appeals to them. Help them
follow the recipe from start to finish. Not only does this give them cooking confidence but they
also get to try new foods and are more likely to try something they have helped make.
- Children will not necessarily like a food the first time they try it. Some children will need to try a
food 10 to 15 times before they start to enjoy eating it! The rule at our house is that you must
try everything on the table at every meal, regardless of how many times you have tried it
before. You will be surprised how quickly they will start to eat (and enjoy) their vegetables!
- Snacking before lunch and supper is a no-no. Not only will kids not eat their meal, but snacks
tend to be high in carbohydrates (like crackers, cereal, bread and granola bars) that fill you up
temporarily but are quickly metabolized by the body. Cut off snacks at least 1 ½ to 2 hours before meals. If kids get hungry in this time period, encourage them to drink water. Thirst can disguise itself as hunger.
- If you find your children are not finishing their meals only to claim starvation an hour later, save the meal they did not finish and offer that instead of a snack. Children learn very quickly that snacks and dessert after a meal are a no-no if they don’t eat their supper.
- If your kids love sweets, consider making a dessert with vegetables in it (yes, you read that right). There are plenty of wonderful dessert recipes on the internet that incorporate black beans, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, beets… Choose one that is highly rated, and you will not be disappointed!
- Consider buying chickpea, lentil or pea pasta. They are a wonderful alternative to wheat pasta. Serve with steamed veggies, a splash of flavoured olive oil (basil is our favourite) and fresh-cut basil.
- Serve water to drink with meals instead of milk, juice or pop. Kids tend to drink more of something they enjoy (juice and pop) which fills up their bellies temporarily but is not necessarily nutritious and potentially full of sugar.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH – PASTA WITH VEGETABLES, FRESH BASIL AND SPICY SAUSAGE (ALL)
½ cup broth of your choice
4 cups of mixed chopped ‘hard’ vegetables including broccoli, celery, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, bell
peppers, pattipan squash, etc.
2 cups of mixed chopped ‘soft" vegetables including spinach, Bok Choi, Gai Lan, peas, snow peas etc.
½ cup sundried tomatoes in oil
1 package of lentil, chickpea, black bean or pea pasta
4 cups water
1 Tbsp salt
Spolumbos sausage of your choice (we use both spicy Italian and regular sausage)
½ cup finely chopped basil
Parmesan cheese, grated
1. Place the broth into a wok or large pot and bring to a boil.
2. Add your hard vegetables to the broth. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook for 6 to 7
minutes until vegetables are slightly soft.
3. Add soft vegetables to the hard vegetable pot and stir to combine. Cook for an additional 3 to 4
4. While hard vegetables are cooking, in a second pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Add pasta and
2 Tbsp olive oil. Turn heat to medium and cook for 8 minutes. Drain and return to pot.
5. Cook sausage in a frying pan over medium heat until cooked completely through. Slice into
pieces and place into a small bowl.
6. Remove vegetables from heat. Add the sundried tomatoes in oil and chopped basil and stir to
7. Serve vegetables, pasta and sausage together with basil oil and parmesan cheese.