If your kids are masters at hiding their peas under mashed potatoes, and if their broccoli somehow vanishes during dinner and shows up the next day in the kitchen plant pot, you are not alone!
Many parents struggle with getting their kids to eat their vegetables (many parents struggle with eating their own vegetables, too!) but Puck is here to help change that for good. In this three-part series, we'll share great tricks to get your kids to not only eat their vegetables but to actually like them!
Take them shopping with you, preferably to a farmers market Meeting farmers and picking the vegetables themselves is a great incentive to get your kids to eat their vegetables. Fresh vegetables look better and taste better than store bought ones. Added to that, associating vegetables with the story and face of a friendly farmer really helps kids redefine their relationship with them.
Give them a choice Don't ask them if they want vegetables or not, use choice questions instead! Any parent would know that kids love to exert power and control, so if you give them a choice between two vegetables instead of merely asking them if they want any vegetables, the result is more likely to be a positive one. An example could be asking them: "Would you like a green or an orange vegetable to eat?" instead of: "Would you like some vegetables to eat?"
Kids feel empowered when they get to choose what lands on their plate and as a result they are more likely to eat it.
Let them help Turn your child into your sous chef! Not only will you have fun together and create beautiful memories, but they are also more likely to eat their vegetables if they have helped with washing and preparing them.
Plant your own vegetables Even if it is just in a small pot on the kitchen window. If your kids plant it, water it and watch it grow they are much more likely to eat it.
Sign a one bite rule agreement They can say no, but they have to try it first. At least one bite. You'll be surprised at how much of a difference this will make. If they take one bite this time, it will be two the next time and a whole plate the time after because they'll realize that it is actually tasty and enjoyable if they are not pressured to eat it.
Set the example Kids love to share experiences with their parents. After all, you parents are their biggest role models, especially in the younger years. So eat your own broccoli, peas, and carrots in front of them and in no time you'll see little hands sneaking a few off your plate.
Don't give up Studies show that kids need 10 or more exposures to a food before they are comfortable enough with it to ask for it! So keep offering them vegetables at different times in different ways (we will be giving you more ideas on that in parts 2 and 3 of this series, so do read on).
Focus on progress not perfection The aim is not to get your kids to eat a plate full of brussel sprouts on day one! What you're aiming for is a healthy relationship with vegetables that will help them to grow into healthy adults. So, be patient and focus on progress and not on perfection.
Part 2: Make it fun
We eat with our eyes first, and that is particularly true with kids. If their plate is colorful, looks like their favorite cartoon character and is fun to eat, they are much more likely to eat it as opposed to a boring pile of broccoli, brussel sprouts or peas! So, instead of turning your meals into a battlefield over a plate full of broccoli, try these meal tricks instead:
Vegetable kabobs There is something about food on a stick that kids find irresistible, and you can use that to your advantage! Bonus points if you get creative with colors or use a cookie cutter to make your vegetables look like stars or mini flowers before putting them on a stick.
Roasted chickpeas/edamame Roasting transforms chickpeas from soft and mushy to crunchy and fun. It also gives you a chance to infuse them with your kids' favorite flavors, be it a herb blend or a particular spice.
Vegetable art Serving vegetables in the form of smiley faces, flowers, trees, or your kids' favorite avenger may take a few extra minutes, but it will put more smiles on your kids' faces and more vegetables in their tummies!
Serve them with a dip Dietitians say that kids are much more likely to eat their vegetables if served with a dip, so whip up some hummus, labneh or ranch dip, and serve it with an assortment of vegetables and watch them vanish off the plate
Make vegetable nuggets You don't always have to use meat to make tasty nuggets. Process a few cooked vegetables with some breadcrumbs, an egg and your favorite seasoning and then shape them into small nuggets and bake them. Simple, fun and tasty – and your kids will love it!
Buy vegetable pasta, it is colorful and fun Kids love colors and kids love pasta. Put the two together and buy vegetable pasta. It is simple, fun and versatile. You can use this pasta to make salads, serve as a side with some cooked chicken or meat or top with their favorite Puck sauce and serve. Dinner that your kids will love in 10 minutes!
They draw it, you make it! If IKEA can do it, so can you. Let your kids release their inner artists by designing their own plates and then use Puck Cheese Triangles and as many colorful vegetables as you can to recreate their drawings! You will all have a blast and they will eat their creations without objections
Part 3: Hide Vegetables in Their Favorite Meals
There is no law that states that you have to tell your kids what's in their meals. At least not the full ingredient list. Use that to your advantage! You will be amazed at how many vegetable servings you can sneak into your kids' favorite meals! Here are a few savory and sweet ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Add squash to your mac n cheese When blended into your favorite Puck sauce, your kids won't even notice it. The color and flavor of squash pairs perfectly with a mac n cheese. You can hide a whole cup of squash in a plate of mac n cheese and your kids will never know.
Add minced vegetables to meatballs The vegetables will not show when blended and, as an added bonus, they will make your meatballs juicier.
Make zucchini boats and fill them with meat topped with cheese and tahini sauce Kids love fun food. Serving vegetables as boats is a great way to sneak some in without objections.
Add vegetables to your tomato sauce – then blend it and serve with pasta Same as with mac n cheese, tomato sauce is a great place to hide cooked vegetables. Its color and flavor won't be affected if you choose your vegetables wisely.
Add vegetables to their omelet or turn it into a breakfast muffin Omelets, especially when topped with Puck cheese, are a great place to hide some vegetables. Kids have a hard time saying no to melted cheese.
Desserts with hidden vegetables Savory dishes are not the only place where you can hide vegetables, and many of your kids' favorite desserts can also be used to sneak in some vegetables. Here are a few sweet ideas for you to try:
Pumpkin pancakes Pumpkin puree makes pancakes fluffier, and with the right combination of spices, the smell alone will have your kids begging for seconds
Spinach brownies It sounds crazy but it works! Adding spinach and carrot to your brownie mix makes it fudgier! Just make sure to allow them to cool completely before serving (you can taste the spinach when they are hot, but that completely disappears when they are left to cool down till the next day). What you are left with is a fudgy and intensely chocolatey brownie
Dried fruit and zucchini muffins We all love carrot cake, but have you tried zucchini cake or muffins? You will be amazed at how much moisture zucchini can add to a cake without affecting the flavor!
Cookie dough dip made with beans Cookie dough dip does not have to be loaded with sugar and butter! You can get the same creamy texture with a can of white beans! Don't believe us? Well, try it yourself
Blend your vegetables into smoothies Add spinach to a green fruit smoothie, pumpkin and sweet potatoes to orange ones, and beets to berry smoothies (we know this is technically not a dessert but it still works great)
Creative ways to use leftover bread and rice
We've got plenty of delicious ways to re-purpose food staples and save them from ending up in the garbage