You Sneaky Mama!
Let’s face it- vegetables are not always the first thing we reach for when we feed our kids, especially the toddlers who can be so finicky with food. It’s often not their first choice either! But, there are SO many nutrients in veggies compared with other snacks. In that small tummy, a veggie snack will pack more of a punch than many other options. How can we sneak it in so our kiddos get those nutritional benefits-without the whining or the battle? One kid in, I have a few ideas thus far:
Before We Start:
- Obviously, I’m not a doctor or nutritional expert. If you have questions or concerns about the food choices for your kiddo, it’s best to talk with your pediatrician.
- My husband is a chiropractor and so, being married to someone in the preventative health/holistic health world has really shaped our family’s view of healthy eating and habits. But we also like eating pizza and icecream so we aren’t crazy health nuts or anything. That’s where I’m coming from 🙂
- We should never FORCE our kids to eat any type of food. Making eating certain food a battle is NOT something I am condoning or encouraging here. Doing so can lead to all kinds of issues with control over food, etc.
Bananas mask the taste of almost any other vegetable. My son is CRAZY about bananas, so if I put a banana in a smoothie, it is easy to camouflage other (usually stronger) flavors, like kale or spinach. When I make smoothies, I will put 1-1.5 bananas in, along with some milk, yogurt, and 1-2 ice-cubes of frozen kale or spinach. Sometimes, I’ll let the ice-cubes thaw a bit in the smoothie make before blending just to lessen the chance of chunks 🙂 Also, if you steam any veggie, like baby carrots or broccoli, they make excellent additions to any smoothie.
For my 18 month-old, adding a straw to drink the smoothie makes everything extra delicious and exciting! (I hope this continues.)
This recipe is easy to make and the muffins freeze wonderfully. It has spinach and carrots in it, yet the yogurt, banana, and applesauce sweeten some of the veggie flavors and make it more neutral. I like making a dozen of these and freezing them for snacks! (Warning: they are a little more soft/crumbly than the typical muffin, making them a snack more suitable for home than on the go.)
3. SNACK OPTIONS
I’ve learned this through mistakes, but it’s worth considering giving your child the choice of 2 or 3 snacks to choose from instead of having only one option. (Such is most of life with a child, in the classroom or at home, choices help them feel in control and self-motivated.) Think about the options you give. If you offer a fruit snack OR carrots…which are they more likely to choose? It’s helpful to stick to offering a veggie or….another veggie! Or a fruit…and another fruit! Kids tend to chose the sweetest option so if you can give them choices that are close to being nutritionally equal-it goes a long way in helping foster healthy eating habits and choices!
4. STEAM VEGGIES
If you’ve been reading more of my blog, you may be sick of me ranting about my Instapot- but here I go again! It takes me literally 3-4 minutes to steam a whole bag of broccoli and 2-3 for a whole bag of baby carrots in there! And the best part is that you just dump it in, set the timer, and go do whatever else you need to do. Steaming certain vegetables, especially broccoli and carrots, can bring out the sweetness taste a bit more. This also provides a soft texture that is more feasible for your little 6 month old to try.
When I am eating what I want my son to eat or want him to want to eat, it’s way more likely he will. Obviously, if I’m trying to sneak a cookie in for a snack and asking him to have carrot sticks and ranch, he’s going to object that, even at 18 months old (not speaking from experience ;). Modeling healthy choices is part of creating healthy snack and eating habits, and it’s not just mom’s job-it’s the whole family’s. This flows well with teaching your kids from the very beginning that vegetables are a delicious food to eat and not something that’s weird or gross. If it’s normal in your family to eat vegetables with every meal, they will adapt to that too. They may not like every vegetable, nor should they necessarily, but the mindset that veggies are good to eat is still there.
What are your secrets to veggie eating with your kiddos?
What have you found helpful in helping foster a love, or tolerance ;), of veggies in your home? Do you have a go-to recipe? Share and comment below!