From Lisa Barnes
I often receive emails with questions from parents about getting their children to eat their vegetables. We all know we should eat a rainbow of colors to get the right amounts of vitamins and nutrients in our food, but somehow children stick to the orange and red side and try to avoid the green. In the parenting book The Happiest Toddler on the Block, author Harvey Karp MD describes the aversion to green foods as a way our ancestors (the cave men) avoided poisonous plants, thus ingrained in our species. Sounds reasonable. The book does describe children ages 2 – 4 as little “cave kids”.
Anyways… getting children to eat vegetables can often be an uphill battle. Every parent has tried hiding them. Here are a few stories and recipes I’ve heard or suggested:
-put spinach in brownies (I tried this and will not make it again, as it was a perfect way to wreck lovely chocolate. Plus doesn’t the child wonder why brownies are being encouraged?)
-grate small bits of red and green peppers and carrots in pizza sauce and cream cheese spreads (this works for some)
-peel zucchini and carrot strips for layering in sandwiches and on pizza (under cheese)
-cover anything looking like a vegetable in cheese sauce (I know some adults that subscribe to this)
Some of the above methods work. But like with everything concerning children, every child is unique. Here’s another suggestion that works at my house – and it wasn’t my idea…
My son is always in the kitchen, helping, tasting, talking and experimenting. He’s always been one to ask “can I eat this?” This could be for anything from uncooked pasta to an onion chunk to bark from the playground. One day (he was about 2 1/2) he asked if he could try a frozen blueberry out of the bag when I was making pancakes. I didn’t see the harm, but explained we bought the frozen because fresh were out of season and it may taste a bit different and will be very cold and hard. Not needing my explanation, he shrugged, popped it in his mouth and said “I like it. Can I have these for dessert?!” I guess because of the cold and crunch he equates them with a frozen treat. Always being one to appreciate raw veggies vs. cooked, he then asked about other frozen items. He eats corn off the cob, but he also appreciates a frozen pile of organic bagged corn in the off season. Once he discovered frozen organic peas he requested a bowl for dessert every night after dinner for at least a month. He still never wants them cooked if fresh or thawed if frozen.
Some parents appreciate this frosty tip (it certainly works for other children that like crunchy textures) and say they wouldn’t have thought of it (neither would I). However I’m sure others wonder how I can recommend frozen veggies. But hey, they are the next best thing to fresh, are always in season and are organic. Plus it may be a way to get little ones to eat some veggies without making spinach brownies.
See also: Give Peas a Chance (Fun Family Organic Snack Recipe)