At Le Pain Quotidien, foods that sustain both our bodies and our environment reign supreme. That’s why we jump at the chance to incorporate fresh, local produce into our dishes. Unfortunately, our children don’t always share our appreciation for veggies. While trying to change your picky eater’s habits may seem like a daunting task, we have some tips for making it easy pea-sy. Read on—pretty soon, your only problem will be when they want second helpings!
1. Help your children grow their own vegetables.
Children love to play and create. To that end, they are more likely to be interested in a meal that is one of their own masterpieces. Start a small vegetable garden and teach your children how to plant and harvest their own vegetables. They will get excited about trying the produce they grew themselves!
Unfortunately, gardening isn’t always an option if you live in the city. However, you can always take your children on a field trip to a nearby farm to learn about the growing process, or to a market where they can pick their own produce. Or, have them start an herb garden in the windowsill for yummy seasonings.
2. Let your children play chef.
Beyond just letting your children grow or select their own veggies, you can engage their creativity even more by having them prepare the veggies themselves. They’re sure to be excited about eating their creations and sharing their personalized dishes with you! After you’ve let them grow or choose produce from your local store, let them wash the vegetables and—if they’re old enough—chop them into a simple salad.
Baking is also always a great hit. Instead of going for a sweet treat, opt for something less traditional. Our seasonal zucchini and goat cheese muffin and tomato and cheese brioche are great points of inspiration! Chances are your children will be so excited for baked goods that they’ll forget about the veggies inside. But if they’re expert veggie-detectors and get really hung up on it, sneak in some steamed and puréed sweet potato. This works well in just about any baked treat for a boost of nutrition and sweetness!
3. Jazz up plain veggies with creative dips.
Many children enjoy hand-held dipping foods like French fries with ketchup. Why not offer veggies and dip as a healthy alternative? Veggies and dip makes a great snack food, and is perfect for the child who won’t eat plain vegetables. We love using our new salad dressings for this purpose, but you can also try hummus or salsa. Try serving with cucumbers, carrots and broccoli for your child’s next afternoon snack. It will be a great way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies!
4. Experiment with different preparation styles.
Children can quickly get bored eating the same old vegetables prepared the same old way. Instead, try switching up the vegetables you serve and the way you cook them. Experimenting with different veggies and recipes will help you learn what your children enjoy most. Just because your children don’t enjoy steamed carrots doesn’t mean they don’t like them raw, grilled or stir-fried. Play around—they’re bound to like something!
5. Find ways of making vegetables fun.
Who said playing with food was a bad thing? Get creative with how you present your vegetables. Cauliflower can be intimating to a child hoping for macaroni and cheese; if arranged with other veggies to resemble a sheep, it suddenly becomes a lot more interesting!
If you’re not up for creating a veggie-zoo every night just to get your children to eat their vegetables, try using stories to pique their imaginations. Broccoli may not be what your 5-year old had in mind; however, if he’s a dinosaur who needs to eat five miniature trees to grow big and strong, then he might be willing to give those florets a try!
While getting your children to eat their vegetables takes some effort, we’re confident that these five tips will have you succeeding in no time. The most important thing is to keep at it.
Are you an expert in the field? Share your tried and true tips with us in the comments below. Bonne chance!
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