Hidden Health: How to Convince Kids to Eat Their Greens
If you’re a parent, then you know how tiresome it can be to get your kids anywhere near a plate of greens. Children seem to be born with an innate dislike of vegetables, and while I’m sure some of us can relate, it’s important for little ones to get all the nutrients they need from these natural packages.
Before I started growing microgreens in NZ, I was a parent of two kids who lived on opposite ends of the vegetable-loving spectrum. While my youngest ate tomatoes like apples and couldn’t seem to get enough of cucumbers, my oldest had an aversion to vegetables that bordered on fear. Thanks to this, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to get even the most stubborn child eating their greens.
Why Kids Need Vegetables
In the face of a tantrum or tears, it can be easy to forget why you’re trying to get your child to eat these vegetables. Believe me, I know! The fact is, a well-rounded diet is crucial to a child’s development, playing a role in their developmental health well into their teens.
From the moment they’re born to the moment they stop growing (between 20 and 25 years old, depending), children are undergoing massive periods of growth. Mitosis, which is the process of cell regeneration and replication, is what powers this growth. Mitosis relies on energy, which vegetables have in spades!
Vegetables also imbue your child with vitamins, which are crucial building blocks in hundreds of bodily processes. Not to mention the fibre and antioxidants, the first of which keeps their digestive system healthy, and the latter of which boosts their immune system.
The good news is, you can make dinnertime easier on both you and your child using some neat little tricks I’ve cooked up over the years to sneak delicious, nutritious vegetables into their diet.
How to Sneak Vegetables into Your Kids’ Meals
The art of vegetable subterfuge is one built over many years of trial and error, passed down from parent to parent in an effort to keep the next generation as healthy as possible. In other words, we all know how tough it is to keep kids healthy, so we’re all in this together.
Here are some of the ideas I’ve found that work over my time as a parent of young kids. If you need any indication that these tips work, both of my children have now grown taller than me, and my oldest (the one who absolutely despised vegetables) is now vegan! What a world.
A Blender is Your Friend
Most of the time, your child’s aversion to the presence of vegetables will disappear as soon as they can’t tell the vegetables are in there. Investing in a high-quality blender to puree vegetables is an excellent plan, in this case.
Pureed carrots, greens, tomatoes, and more can all be sneaked into delicious sauces. Your child will gain all the nutritional benefits from the vegetables and get the great taste of something fresh, all without realising their nemesis is even present in the meal.
Create a Rule
This is a technique I tried with my oldest at a young age, and it worked like a charm. The idea is to create a rule for trying vegetables, allowing your child to veto them from the menu as soon as they’ve tried the vegetable a certain number of times. For example, they have to try a particular vegetable five times before they can say they won’t eat it.
Not only does this technique give your child the power and independence to choose whether they want to eat certain foods, it also gives you the chance to ingratiate said vegetable to them before they can say they hate it.
Microgreens Work Wonders
Microgreens are forty times more nutrient dense than their larger vegetable counterparts, which means you need your kids to eat far less of them to get the same nutritional benefits. There are microgreen recipes all over the place! Mix them into a sauce, put them in a wrap, sprinkle them atop a meal, or blitz them into a pesto; this living food is extremely versatile.
Smoothie Ice Creams
Who doesn’t love dessert? I haven’t met a child who didn’t love ice cream, and one of the easiest ways I’ve found to get kids loving their vegetables is to put it in said tasty frozen treat. This is where your blender will come in handy.
Blast beets, avocado, fruits, spinach, microgreens, and anything else you can think of into creamy submission before freezing the mixture into popsicle moulds. Break these out after dinner as a treat, and your kids will be none the wiser.
Finding the right technique might take some time, but it will be worth it once your kids are eating their vegetables with smiles on their faces. Be patient with them and yourself. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
Give your child nutrient-dense vegetables with none of the hassle.
Microgreens are a sure-fire way to deliver a nutrition-packed punch of taste to any and every meal. If you’re wondering where to buy microgreens, look no further than Waikato Microgreens! You can buy your delicious microgreens at the Cambridge Farmer’s Market every Saturday. We also offer a weekly delivery service of delicious living food to your doorstep in certain areas of Waikato and Tauranga, so get in touch today to buy or subscribe.