Veggies with Kid Appeal

Everyone knows vegetables are good for you and should be consumed in high volume, and on a regular basis. Convincing the small ones in your family of this important fact, however, can sometimes be a battle. If you were on the losing end of the last turnip skirmish in your household, read on. With a little change in attitude–both the big and little one’s–“veggie peace” is a real possibility.

  1. Start early. Home-prepared fresh vegetables are some of the simplest and most nutritious foods on which to start baby. Choose vegetables like carrots, yams, beans and beets and save the stronger tasting ones such as cauliflower and broccoli until your child is a little older. Steam veggies until soft, blend smooth and serve immediately or freeze in ice cube trays for the perfect dinner-size portions. Because baby’s tastes will still be unaffected by refined sugars and other processed foods, you will find that most vegetables are well accepted. For the few vegetables that may be met with dislike, give your child a break and try those ones again in a month or two.
  1. Let children have some say in their vegetable intake. Start with the absolute basics of encouraging your children to help with the garden (i.e. choosing the seeds, planting the onion sets, picking the first peas) Then move on to delegating shopping tasks (i.e. choosing the ‘new vegetable of the week’, comparing potato prices) to assigning them chef’s duty (i.e. slicing mushrooms, creating–and naming–their very own salad combination).

But don’t stop there. Make a point of giving kids choice when it comes to eating their vegetables too. Some varieties may have too strong a flavor for young taste buds. Use the one taste rule and, after the sampling, let them leave a vegetable if it is still not to their liking. Utilize cooking styles that allow individualization–make your own veggie platters or salad and sandwich bars. And for families where the parents end up eating all the green peppers that have been left on the side of their children’s plate, try a salad In Balance style.

Pick and Choose Greek Salad (serves 4)


  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, in rings
  • 1 red pepper, in rings

Cover a platter with:

  • 4 cups greens (i.e. leaf lettuce, curly endive) in bite-sized pieces

Place tomatoes, cucumbers and onion in the center of the lettuce and arrange the peppers rings, alternating red and green, around the edge of the platter. Garnish chopped vegetables with:

  • ½ cup Kalamata olives
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Drizzle salad with a mixture of:

  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Go slow. For most children, simple and familiar is usually the key to introducing different vegetables. By all means try new dishes, but start perhaps with things that are similar to an old favorite. Try grating zucchini and carrot into grandma’s blue ribbon spaghetti sauce or add one additional vegetable to the family’s favorite bean salad.

When you find a new hit, (maybe our Pasta Primavera?) fit it into your regular meal planning

Pasta Primavera (serves 2-3)

Whirl in food processor:

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup parsley
  • ¼ cup chives
  • 2 teaspoons tarragon
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

In large pot of boiling water stir in:

  • ¾ pound fresh spinach or gluten-free pasta
  • 1 cup carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup cauliflower, in 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 cup asparagus, in 2″ pieces
  • 1 cup zucchini, julienned

Cook over high heat for 5-7 minutes until pasta is done and vegetables are tender crisp. Drain. Toss pasta and vegetables with sauce and heat gently for 3-4 minutes. Serve.

N.B. If fresh pasta is unavailable, dried can be substituted. Follow package directions for pasta and add vegetables for the last five minutes of cooking time.

  1. Keep it simple. Just as children have a variety of personalities, hobbies and attitudes, they also come with different food tastes. All our children are good, hearty and healthy eaters. But one pours over cookbooks almost as intently as I do (particularly in search of exotic “sometime” foods), while his brother would be just as happy if we had simple vegetable sandwiches every day for lunch and some variation on vegetable sandwiches every evening for supper.

Rather than planning a seven course dinner of unpronounceable, imported veggies, choose one new salad each shopping day or set, for example, Tuesdays as “Eating around the World” night and try one new veggie side dish from another country.

  1. Make it fun. Eating is basically a way to sustain your body and meet its many nutritional needs. Doing that well should certainly be a priority. Enjoying the meals you prepare, however, and having fun while you do that preparation is certainly a worthwhile goal. Though time constraints sometimes limit creativity, when you have a few extra minutes–or an extra pair of little helping hands–why not check out the following list (some ideas adapted from Disney’s Family Cookbook) and exhibit a little artistic license of your own?

Veggie Art

  • Make a veggie rainbow. Choose vegetables in the colors of the rainbow chop or slice each variety and then layer rainbow style on a platter. Drizzle with dressing or serve with a dip.
  • Create a baked potato T. Rex with red pepper spikes and a steamed zucchini tail.
  • Build a log cabin out of celery and carrot sticks with p.b. mortar (blend one part peanut butter with one part water). This is messy, but tastes great!



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