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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guest Post - Vegetable Wars: How to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Veggies!

Are you having trouble getting your kids to eat veggies? Then today's guest post written by Anne Mercado would be a perfect read!  Anne is a mom who is passionate about raising happy, healthy and smart children.  How? With a glass of information, a pitcher or two of love and patience, and of course, a bucket of humor.  She believes that though parenting is challenging, it doesn't have to be boring.  You can catch her at Green Eggs & Moms.

I was lucky that for N, eating vegetables was not an issue. We did make some effort and made her food quite presentable so she would be happy to eat the veggies.  We also involved her in the food preparation process which I think accounted for her hearty appetite.  If you do have a picky eater, read on and get some tips from Anne.  For further reading, you can also check out this book from Elizabeth Pantley - The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution.

Vegetables are the enemy!!!
This is probably what you think your toddler or pre-schooler screams in her mind when you tell her to eat veggies. To be honest, I don't have the slightest idea on what goes on in her tiny little head. Although, I do know this: there are ways to getting kids to like veggies, and hopefully stuffing themselves silly with this nutritious food.

Get your battle gear ready because here are awesome ways to win the veggie war!

For the purpose of this post, the term enemy shall refer to kids. From personal experience, I know that veggies are friendly folk; kids on the other hand may not always be.

1. Surround the enemy!

 Serve a variety of vegetables as often as you can. Make these nutritious folk a staple in your home to drive the point that there is no escaping them. Okay, I'm exaggerating. The idea is to "promote" veggies. In this case, instead of TV commercials and billboard ads, opt for something cheaper: having real veggies on your breakfast, lunch and dinner table.
  • Get to know veggies. Dr. Sears from suggests to place different chopped veggies in ice cube trays; offer them to the enemy. This is a good way for your kids to experiment and see which veggies appeal to their discriminating taste buds. Watch their expressions and take note of which veggies they take a liking to. Also, don't expect them to like all or even most of the veggies.
  • Dress up veggies. And no, I don't mean with clothes. Dipping sauces or toppings can make veggies seem friendlier to the enemy. Chances are, eating veggies with a side of ranch dressing, cottage cheese, peanut butter or whatever goes deliciously well with them, will be more palatable for the young ones.
  • Presentation is everything. The enemy may be more receptive to veggies that are visually appealing. Veggie art, as Dr. Sears refers to it, will do wonders for encouraging your kids to gobble them up. Cut and arrange them to make smiley faces, animals or whatever your artistic side allows you to create.
  • Enemy see, enemy do. In real warfare, this probably isn't true. But for children it is. If they see parents and siblings eating veggies, they will be more inclined to follow. Even better is if they see their peers eating veggies! This is definitely a case wherein peer pressure is more than welcome.
  • If you've implemented all these methods and are still not getting the desired results, don't despair. You can retreat momentarily and follow the next tip.

2. Trojan Horse.

Remember when the Greeks used a seemingly empty and innocent wooden horse to enter Troy? Turned out, Greek soldiers were hiding inside, waiting to spring into action. Well, you can do the same thing here. Mask veggies into seemingly non-veggie meals. And boy, have I got great tricks up my sleeve.
Here are 2 amazing recipes I found.
  • Carrot Croquette. This recipe from should do the trick. Boil carrots, mash them and then mix with a few other ingredients. Shape into carrots, coat in bread crumbs and fry using a non-stick skillet. Voila! Serve with a matching (sinister) smile. Watch your kid eat what he thinks is a veggie-free meal while you laugh deep down inside. You know the truth.
  • Speedy Stove Top Lasagna. This deceptively delightful dish is from What's hidden in the layers of gooey cheese and tomato sauce? Spinach leaves, broccoli and green peas. Once again, remember to serve with a smile.
You can look for more creative recipes that cloak veggies, or you can come up with your own. But do remember that eventually, you will have to teach the enemy how to eat veggies without applying the Trojan Horse technique.
You can win the vegetable wars with creativity, patience and consistency. Give your kids the opportunity to choose healthy food by offering them, surprise, healthy food.
Have any tricks that worked for you? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Source: - Feeding the Picky Eater: 17 Tips
Photos (all by Creative Commons):
Vegetables - from Martin Cathrae
Ice Cube Tray - from leif.maxfield
Veggie Art - from 4nitsirk
Toy Horse - from Mountain Roamer
Lasagna - from Maggie Hoffman
As I am enjoying my babymoon, I welcome guest posts from writers who would like to contribute articles to this blog.  You can read more about how to guest post here


Ali Satterwhite said...

Great ideas!  I can remember my mother using our food to make cute faces and shapes and eating it up as a child.  This really does work!  Thank you for sharing.

Mapam30 said...

wonderful tips...I really don't have a huge battle with veggies, I think it goes to the point of MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO. I have had carrots,celery, and snap peas on the lower shelf of the fridge from day one --"MOM  Can I have a snack?"  was always answered with " you can eat what you can reach"  My hubby is not a big veggie eatter but I am....he's the fruit monster in our house-so Its all still good....I've truley been blessed my sons fav foods are broccoli and spinach and my daughter can eat carrots and celery all day long =)
 I like the carrot tip...going to try it  TY

Mommy LaDy Club said...

What wonderful tips!  I'm funny, and always liked vegetables as a kid.  How about in a soup with fun pasta shapes too?

AnneM said...

Hi Ali! You are most welcome but the thanks really goes to the wonderful Jenny for agreeing to post my article. Happy holidays!

AnneM said...

It's great that your kids love veggies and I like your tip on having healthy snacks that your children can easily reach! Let us know how the carrot croquette turns out. 

AnneM said...

Soup and veggies are a wonderful combination since most kids love them! :) Thanks for the tip.

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