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How do you get vegetables into your picky eaters?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hi there,


My two little ones (ages 5 and 3) have not been eating veggies lately. They do eat fruit, and I make them a smoothie almost every morning with greens in it.


I need some kid friendly vegetable tips. Do you have any special ways of preparing veggies to make kids like them? Share please!


post #2 of 25

We put greens in our smoothies too, as well as carrots and beets.  The beets make it bright pink so its pretty and DD wants to drink it.  we make a huge batch so we can drink on it throughout the day.

I have ice cube trays of pureed liver and pureed veggies from the garden (greens, broccoli, zuccini, yellow squash and carrots?  it was whatever we had an excess of at the time) that I put into things like chili, spaghetti sauce, hamburgers, lasagna (I mix it in after I brown the hamburger).   We also get those bags of organic broccoli and sweet corn from Albertsons and I steam broccoli and corn together, melt butter into it and we eat it, its really good that way!  I know fresh or fermented veggies are better but thats one way that works for us.

Also if they can go out in the yard and pick something themselves, either from the garden or an edible weed and put it in/on something they might be more likely to eat it.   DD also likes to test our veggies as they are fermenting on the counter so she eats some of those every day when they are on the counter.

DD loves cherry tomatoes, banana peppers and cucumbers just plain.  She has eated zuccini plain too lol but that was last summer, IDK if she'll stil like it this summer.

Steamed then baked sweet potatoes are pretty easy except I use some brown sugar on them which probably isnt the healthiest but its so good!  I melt a stick or more of butter in a saucepan, mix in a little sugar, pour it over the steamed and peeled potatoes in a glass baking dish and bake on 350 for 30 min, covered.  Pretty easy and a huge hit with everyone.  I have found that sweet potatoes taste better than yams, and organic has way more flavor and sweetness than conventional.

We serve some fermented veggies with lunch or dinner almost every day.  If you eat scrambled eggs for breakfast you can also tear up spinach and cut up tomatoes and put that in it as well.  We season certain dishes with with some kelp granules.

Thats everything that comes to mind at the moment.  Have you tried juicing as well?

post #3 of 25

Sounds like your kids are going through a normal stage at their ages. Just keep offering, putting veggies on the table, and eating them yourself. Don't create a battle zone-they always win! I love Ellyn Satter's advice on feeding kids. www.ellynsatter.com. I remember my kids were really good helpers at this age. They love to wash vegetables! Set them up on a tall chair at the sink.


post #4 of 25
Originally Posted by love2feedkids View Post

Sounds like your kids are going through a normal stage at their ages. Just keep offering, putting veggies on the table, and eating them yourself. Don't create a battle zone-they always win! I love Ellyn Satter's advice on feeding kids. www.ellynsatter.com. I remember my kids were really good helpers at this age. They love to wash vegetables! Set them up on a tall chair at the sink.


I agree on both points.  Her book, Child of Mine, Feeding with Love and Goodsense, saved our sanity.


Granted, I only have one child but I have watched him, over 5+ years of eating solids, go through periods of eating everything in front of him to deciding on Tuesday that he didn't like the carrots he loved on Monday. 


We stayed the course and continued to put veggies out and he always comes back around.

post #5 of 25


When my kids began to resist vegetables (as toddlers) DH and I began put the vegetables in their bowls first, before they could have any other dish or rice. 


When we cook the veggies, we usually stir fried w/ some crushed garlic or other flavorings. When DS was younger, he disliked the garlic, so sometimes I would rinse off some of the  greens and put them in small separate serving bowl.  We also would sometimes blanche them in hot stock or hot water.


We also noted what greens they like and dislike. Basically we know that they will eat these vegetables without trouble:

     bok-choi jai (baby bok choi); bok choi, brocolli, long cabbage, regular cabbage, gai-laan, & choi-sum and any lettuce other than iceberg. Also baby carrots or cut up carrots - raw only.


When those vegetables aren't available, they will also eat w/ a certain lack of enthusiasm: cauliflower, dou-miu (pea sprouts); and snow peas.




DD will eat spinach fairly willingly. DS claims it "hurts" his mouth, so we rarely serve it. DD also likes corn on the cob, DS does not.


When they got to be about 12, I found a list of nutritional requirements for teens, which I posted near the dining table. So when I (still!) remind them to eat their greens, I point to the list and remind them of the amounts needed.



post #6 of 25

DS hasn't hit the picky stage yet, but my cousin was/is quite picky and my aunt has to sneak in veggies for him.  She would do things like grate carrots into meatloaf, or pasta sauce, hide veggies in soup, etc.  Sounds like you're helping them get greens with the smoothie, which is good too.  You can also bake veggies into baking, such as baking carrot muffins, pumpkin muffins, zucchini muffins, etc  (using partially whole wheat flour and using honey or maple syrup in place of sugar to make them a bit healthier!).  Would your kids be into veggies if it was on pizza?  You could do "Pita Pizzas" using whole wheat pita bread as the crust (for a fast, easy lunch) or make whole wheat pizza dough, put on lots of tomato sauce, and then veggies (either grilled or fresh), cheese, etc.  What about soups?  Broccoli cheese soup is yummy and very easy to make from scratch!  Same with potato leek, cream of mushroom, cauliflower cheese, etc.  If it's all pureed maybe they won't really notice it's veggies! 


I agree with just continuing to offer and not making it a fight.  They'll just resist longer and more strongly!

post #7 of 25

Your kids may have already outgrown this tactic, but for our 2 1/2 year old making a face with veggies has worked wonders.  We ask her what she is going to eat first: the nose, an eyebrow, etc.. then you or your children can either replace the parts of the face as they are eaten, or build a new face once they have eaten the whole thing.  It has been a simple but powerful trick for us.  

post #8 of 25

Sounds like a not so fun predicament you are. I am blessed because my 8 daughter will eat almost any veggies. However, she does have her favorites. I have made it manditory in my house that we eat veggies since day one, which I beleive has been a great help in preventing a huge battle of wills. Hoever, when I do serve veggies she is not fond of she will sometimes mildly protest and I will explain to her why they are good for her and explain their nutritional importance, which does not make her any happier or like the veggies better, but does get her to eat them and sigh a great big relieg of thank gooddness that's done. I do put peas into the rice, pasta or cheese rissoto to help make her less disapointed by the peas being on her plate. Also, my daughter has a opreference to eating her peppers raw instead of cooked, so I honor that request as much as I can. From time to time we cook the peppers and she has gotten used to them. I think you need to help make it a lifestyle in your home and cut out any hint that they have a choice in the matter. However, I think it is great that they have smoothies with greens is great. Also when you serve veggies that they will eat it pays to know what other vegies or food items to eat with them to maximize their nutrient powers being absorbed best by the body. ex) tomatoes and spinache help eachother out and the body absorb the nutrients better. Sometimes a favorite sauce on the veggies helps a lot with the taste that is not liked so much. I always make sure i cook the veggies aldante (crispy)  and keep away from the soft mushy vegies. Good luck!


post #9 of 25

PS also I find that cutting the mushrooms really thin helps get my daughter to eat them with out a fuss, but cut them thick and yikes she says they are yucky! Making a game out of the veggies can help. ex Broccoli races. who can eat the most in 3 mins etc... Also making up stories to go along with the geggies by using the veggies as charaters helsp with some children i know. I told my daughter when she was little that the body needs the veggies to do it's job of letting our blood flow and our heart pump and that our insides will be so sad and lonely without the veggies that we would feel that sadness all the time if we don't eat the veggies. That tugged at the right spot of my daughter's heart strings and she gobbled up the veggies right away. :)

post #10 of 25

My kids have always loved dips. I often put some salsa, some extra red pepper, cilantro, green onions and either black beans or red kidney beans in the food processor and serve the dip with pita wedges or tortilla chips. There are lots of nutrient dense veggies (and the beans) in there and as long as it has been pureed, they are happy to eat it. 

post #11 of 25

My dd doesn't like most vegetables even though she loves nearly every fruit. We stock a variety of fruits.

We just keep offering vegetables prepared in different ways and someday she may find something she likes. I know my tastes changed as I got older and I eat many things I refused when I was younger.

Dd will not eat raw vegetables at all. She doesn't like dips or sauces.

I can put veggies in lasagna or soup and dd will eat them that way without complaint. I have put zucchini and spinach in lasagna. Dd's favorite soup is minestrone. I don't hide them but I don't make a big deal out of the fact that dd has consumed a vegetable either.

Sometimes we just have to tell her to eat a certain amount of a vegetable that she doesn't love but tolerates like corn or green beans. It'd be nice if she loved a lot of vegetables and would choose to eat them on her own but she does not.

post #12 of 25

I agree with a PP that it should be a way of life from the beginning.   It has been for us, and even though DD will sometimes refuse to eat a certain veggie, other times she will eat it right away.  She is getting better now that she's a little older (2), but when she was 1 I remember sometimes having a hard time with certain veggies, and thats when I started hiding them.  I think that its important to both hide them and serve them, because then they get used to seeing them and the texture and taste of plain veggies vs hidden ones.

I think its also important not to overdo it on sweets and junk food, because they get used to the taste of those things which unfortunatly most of them prefer, and then they wont eat the healthy things that are not super sweet or processed.  I'm saying this from experience- watching friends feed their kids candy and junk from the time they first start eating and then wonder why they throw a fit about vegetables when they offer them occasionally. 

post #13 of 25

I always make sure to serve lots of veggies, even if he doesn't eat them. I don't think it's good to hide them all (dunno if you do). That being said, I have a couple things I do to help DS get what I feel he needs. Every week (or almost) I get a bag of apples or pears and some vegetable and possible another fruit, like berries, and make him a big pot of veggie apple sauce. He eats this for snacks all week and dessert and loves it. I usually go with 4-5 apples (cored), 1 frozen box spinach or 10-2 bunches fresh and a 12 oz bag frozen blueberries. This is his favorite. Other ones I'm done are:




apple/sweet potato

He also loves (well, used to love. Now sorta tolerates) creamed veggie soups. Usually I just do cream of broccoli or glazed carrot soup, sometimes asparagus or other seasonal veggies. This is great with frozen veggies in winter when not even I want to eat the other veggies available.

Green smoothies are always good too. There are lots fo threads and websites about those.

post #14 of 25

my 5-y.o. loved Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs & Ham book when he was 2, so here's what i began to do:  i would puree spinach and freeze into cubes (add just a little water to make it easier).  let a cube thaw out overnight.  sauté for a minute, then add 2 eggs and scramble.  eggs are a beautiful green, flavor doesn't change too much, and you've got a concentrated amount of spinach to be eaten up!  (i still do this and my 5-y.o.--who does eat spinach now--has no idea how i get the eggs to turn green!  and now my 1 1/2-y.o. eats them!)  i tried the same with chard and kale, but the flavor is a little stronger.  


i also puree vegetables into tomato sauce and smoothies.

post #15 of 25

We tend to eat a lot of quesadilas (sp) in our home, where I add diced veggies: peppers, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, etc. They melt into the cheese and are sandwiched between a tortilla. Can also do as tacos, and again melt the cheese rolled in a tortilla. These are also gateways to add a salsa or guacamole dip :)

post #16 of 25
We have done a combination of things other posters have mentioned. I serve vegetables at lunch and dinner, and we make sure to model eating a variety of foods. If I'm serving something new or something she's refused before, I also serve something i'm pretty sure she'll eat. I've also gotten in the habit of adding purees to a lot of things, and the adults are finding some of those to be big improvements! For example, I add squash puree to the mac and cheese, which makes it taste richer somehow. I also add a little bit of pumpkin or squash to yogurt with a little cinnamon mixed in, since she'll almost always eat yogurt. We think it's important to both teach her healthy habits and also make sure she gets a bare minimum of nutrients. A nice side effect is that the grownups are eating healthier, too!
post #17 of 25



There have been a few things that have been very helpful in our family regarding getting all the kids to eat a healthier diet. Dr.William Sears has been a great resource. When our kids (now we have grandkids) were younger we took his advice about raising a grazer. Keep a cupcake pan out for the day filled with healthy items; raisins, grapes, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, dip. etc. If it is left out daily they will eventually try new things. It is also easier when they are not sitting at the dinner table with it on their plate. We also started our kids out on the Juice Plus+ fruit and vegetable chews. We added them to the "grazing food". They now all take the capsules...but the grandkids are now all eating the Chews and love them! One of the best things about them is that they can get them free as part of the Childrens Health Study program. Anyone interested can check it out at www.food4lifejuiceplus.com and look for the Childrens health study program. Another benefit to that program is the fact that it supports the St. Jude Foundation to help children with cancer.

post #18 of 25

We also did the Dr. Sears "nibble tray" method, and in fact even though the kids are older now they still occasionally request a nibble tray when they are sick or eating lunch at home.


One of my DDs doesn't like cooked vegetables, so I bought one of those flat, divided containers with a space for dip in the middle & often put that out with cut-up raw vegetables and some dressing while they are waiting for dinner. She also started eating more salad when we let her cut up the vegetables herself & make the salad.


I myself eat almost any vegetable, but I can't stand celery. I promised my daughter that I would eat some celery if she tried a new vegetable. She would do it just to see the grimace on my face and learned to eat a few new things that way. What we parents do for our kids!


Mommy212, could you elaborate on your method for making the flavored apple sauce? Do you add water? Use a crock pot or pot on the stove?

post #19 of 25

The best tip I got from my MIL was to put out veggies as an appetizer when I'm prepping dinner and DD is at her absolute hungriest. DD is a fan of veggies so it wasn't too tough to sell her on it, but I still think it's a good idea.  I'd get her a plate of cut-up veggies that she likes (carrots, red pepper, cukes) and stick them on a little plate with some sort of dip and let her graze on that while I cooked, or I'd warm up some left-over cooked veggies from the night before and give her that.  Sometimes we call it Happy Hour and I make her a little drink of seltzer with a splash of juice to go with it and I sit down and snack with her before cooking. 

post #20 of 25

We usually do veg first while we "finish" the dinner. When they were little we did them as a snack.


A bit of butter, soy sauce, butter + soy cause, salt, ponzu or other seasons can work wonders.

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