Kids & Veggies: Top 10 Tips to Get Little Ones to Eat Better

Kids and vegetables. They go together like oil and water sometimes, right?

Not in our house! But that was after intentional decisions and work. I bet there are some children who are born loving broccoli, and that’s great. But that was NOT the case for my daughter. It was a struggle, every. single. meal. for. a. year. to get her to try anything new.

But here we are, she’s 2 and a half, and she eats everything.

I am writing this to share some of the tips I found successful when trying to teach my daughter to love vegetables, and also to encourage you to endure those tough days and not give up. Eating a variety of foods is so essential for proper nutrition and starting children early is the best tip I have.

Here are 10 of my favorite tips to get kiddos to love their veggies:

  1. Cook them deliciously! SO often people have said things like “I hate Brussels sprouts” to which I reply “Really? How have you had them?” Most common answer is boiled or steamed. Um,  I wouldn’t like that either! The best way to eat Brussels sprouts in my opinion is to slice them and saute them with onions and garlic in a pan or roast on a sheet tray in the oven. They get such delicious texture and flavor, a family favorite. Another example is broccoli. My daughter loves it when I serve the broccoli roasted with lemon, garlic, and salt.
  2. Serve with a Dipping Sauce – kids LOVE to dip. Do they like ketchup? BBQ sauce? Vegan cheese sauce? Cook the veggies, cut into spear type finger food and serve with a sauce. This instantly makes it more interesting! My daughter also loves it when I steam broccoli, season with garlic & salt, then serve with a vegan cheese sauce to dip in! My favorite vegan cheese sauce recipe is one I adapted from Oh She Glows and the Minimalist Baker. I’ll share on my blog soon!
  3. Serve with their favorite foods! OK, we don’t want to totally torture the poor kiddos. Sweeten the deal a little with making a delicious and balanced plate. What do they like? My daughter loves pasta. I try to get her to take one bite of something new every 2-3 bites of her favorite on the plate.
  4. Set an example. Your children are watching. You can’t just make salad, broccoli, or green beans once a week and expect them to hop on board. They have to see their parents eating them, loving them, and serving it to themselves before they are willing to do it themselves. If you want your children to eat healthier, you have to be willing to eat healthier yourself first.
  5. Be consistent! If there’s something you’d like your children to eat more of, make it regularly. They have to be exposed to healthy foods regularly in order to be more open to try them.
  6. Guacamole Trick: This one is from a fellow mama that I follow, Ellen Fisher. (She has a plant based e-book that’s incredible!) To teach her sons to love salad, she finely chops spinach and blends it into guacamole. As her children age, she slowly lessens the avocado and it turns into more of a salad and less of a bowl of guacamole. I tried this with my daughter and it works. I chop spinach, tomatoes, onions, and season the mashed avocado and serve with a spoon. She loves it!
  7. Sneak them in if you have to! One of my favorite ways to sneak in veggies is to shred carrots and chop spinach then mix them into pasta sauce. My daughter always loves to eat pasta so loading up the marinara with veggies is a great way to get her to eat a more balanced meal.
  8. Smoothies every day. My daughter did not love smoothies. It took me a while of consistently making them for myself and offering them to her to get her to actually want her own cup. I love to add spinach, flax seeds, powered greens, kale, and other goodness into smoothies. I got her a stainless steel thermos that hides the color of she smoothie so she doesn’t refuse it based on color. Her favorite smoothie is more like a milk shake and is a mixture of: bananas, flax seeds, almond milk, peanut butter, dates, and greens.
  9. Make it Fun! I also love to tell my daughter stories. I talk to her and tell her how broccoli are little trees! Aren’t they cute? Make it fun. Let them see you enjoying your meal and they’ll follow your lead….eventually!
  10. Don’t give up. Kids will take their own lead if you let them. Sure, some kids just will not love broccoli, and that’s ok. It’s up to you to find healthy foods that they’ll love. It’s not an easy job, but it’s worthwhile. I am so happy I put in the effort with my daughter as now she eats salads, veggies, and pretty much anything I make. I cook one meal at each meal time and we share. Keep the faith, my friends! The effort you’re putting in is worth it to help instill a sense of vibrant health and a life long love of veggies.

If you’d like any specific recipe ideas or to chat more about this, feel free to comment or message me!

 

Roasted Root Vegetable Breakfast Bowls

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Roasted vegetables are a basic staple in our home. There are many variations I like to prepare depending on what we have on hand in the house. We actually LOVE to eat this type of meal for dinner! Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite things. Also, another thing to note: often times you will see various ways to eat the same recipe. That is because my husband and I often like things served differently with different toppings! He’s more of a “ranch and white bread” type, which is perfectly OK, and I’m a little more adventurous with my palate.  You will see multiple ways to eat my recipes and I hope you find something you’ll enjoy. 

Sausage & Veggie Breakfast Bowl

Roasted Root Vegetable Breakfast Bowls

– Serves 2 Adults, Bakes at 375 degrees for 30 Minutes

Ingredients:

3-4 Eggs, however many each person wants

1 Medium Sweet Potato, peeled & cubed

1 Medium Sweet Onion, cut into 4-6 pieces

2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled & cubed

3 Carrots, peeled and cut into medium sticks

2 cups Broccoli, chopped into florets

1 Medium Lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Seasonings: Equal parts thyme, rosemary, smoked paprika, curry powder, garlic, celery salt, and pepper – I lightly dusted each one over the baking tray of root vegetables, then mixed.

**Optional Ingredients/Toppings** – Grape tomatoes, shredded cheese, breakfast sausages, green onions, avocado, hot sauce or salsa

If you have never tried smoked paprika, I highly recommend it! It has become one of my favorite spices, especially when roasting vegetables. It adds a subtle smoky flavor that is out of this world! I also have grown to really love curry powder in my dishes, even when I am not making curry. I have found it adds a subtle touch of sweetness and a boost of great flavor. It may seem odd to regularly add curry to things but it really pairs nicely with the other seasonings. I love both of these flavors, especially together.

Preparation & Cooking:

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To start out, I arranged the vegetables on the cutting board and took a pretty picture – I mean, I laid them out and began to peel and chop them! Hehe. Anyway, after peeling and chopping I usually would add all of the veggies into a freezer bag with olive oil to be tossed around and then coated in the spice mixture. However, I am out of freezer bags so tonight I did all my mixing and seasoning on the baking sheets directly. This way is a little more work but less of a waste of freezer bags so that’s a plus!

Root Vegetables

I keep the broccoli separate from the root vegetables until the end. I do this for two reasons: 1. To create depth of flavor in the end dish. I took the broccoli and tossed them in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, celery salt & pepper. The lemon juice adds a lovely freshness and tang to the dish and another layer of flavor. I love cooking with lemons! 2. I hate mushy broccoli! It is very important to me to maintain the crunchy integrity of the broccoli and I quickly roast them at the end. This means, once the root vegetables are almost done, I put the broccoli in for about 8-10 minutes. Now, if you like your broccoli cooked more, I would turn down the oven temperature to 350 and bake them longer. I prefer a higher temp as to roast the outside of the broccoli yet still leave it crisp and intact. I have thought a lot about broccoli, can you tell?

I love Broccoli

For the root vegetables, after they’re coated in the olive oil and spice mixture, they go into the oven at 375 for 30 minutes, turning them every 10 minutes so they roast evenly. After 20 minutes of roasting, I put the broccoli into the oven and let them roast as the root vegetables finish up. While these two things are happening, you know, the magic in the oven, I cooked two sausage links for my husband and over medium eggs for the both of us.

Roasted Lemon Garlic Broccoli

Roasted Root Vegetables

After assembling this glorious mixture of vegetables, they get topped with whatever toppings of your choice! Tonight, for the mister, he enjoyed his bowl with chopped pork breakfast sausage, cheese, and two over medium eggs. For me, I went a little light and just had one egg over medium with chopped grape tomatoes. Usually, I’ll add avocado, green onions, hot sauce, and a zesty southwestern sauce I make (I’ll post the recipe on another page..it is AMAZING!). Get creative! But the base of this recipe is just so, so satisfying!

Here it is, breakfast bowls two ways:

Breakfast Bowls Two Ways

I hope you enjoy it! Let me know.

Best wishes,

K