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Eating veggies

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I need advice on how to get a toddler to eat his veggies. :( it's always a fight that usually results in him going to his room and the veggies are left uneaten and wasted. 


My father advised to not make meals a battle, which I think is wise, but if I do that then veggies will NEVER get eaten. I'm so discourged but far to stubborn to give up. 


Ive tried offering a treat at the end. Doesn't care. I've tried saying, than you won't eat! Doesn't care. 



post #2 of 15

My DS will eat ANYTHING if it is hidden inside a wrap/burrito.  Including spinach.  and onions.  He usually hates onions!  And anything green will be rejected if visible.  But if I hide it in a wrap, often with beans and/or cottage cheese/and or mild salsa, he gobbles it up, no questions asked.  Also, you would be amazed at what can be hidden in a smoothie.  Bananas have a very strong flavor which will cover up just about anything else.  Including spinach.  Probably not onions. 

If that doesn't work, I do have a pediatrician friend who has said not to worry about it AT ALL if they seem to want to eat the same thing all the time, as long as it isn't sugary.  Oatmeal for breakfast every single day for years on end?  Its okay!  PB&J for lunch every single day for years on end?  Its okay!  The micronutrients in veggies are great, but more so for grown ups.  What kids really need is lots of energy and protein.  When they start to need something else, they will start to eat it.  So as long as you still eat nutrent dense foods, and the kids can if they want to, they should when they need to.  Unless they have been fighting a battle not to for the last several years!  So I would agree with your Dad, and make your life easier by just not fighting that battle.  Just mind your own food is healthy, give him something easy that he will eat, try something different occassionaly, but don't force it, and he should be just fine. 

post #3 of 15
I confess I've done the hidden veggie thing here and there. Sometimes dinner just isn't optimal eating for DD and I find I can usually get more veggies into her through lunch and snacking and have low veggie expectations for dinner. She has a few staples she will eat and I use those shamelessly. I also look at her diet over the course of a week really instead of each day and each meal and don't stress about if if recently she's had some veggies. The biggest impact though is if she helps me cook or prep. If she has a hand in making it, she will eat it. Toddlers are so notoriously picky that I aim for setting a good example, getting some veg into her each week and call it done. Once the weather is warmer, frozen peas are terrific as a snack and I take them everywhere. I can also be a bit underhanded and pack a very blah snack (like cheerios) along with carrots and cucumbers for outings. This is how I get through it. Hope you find something that works.
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks Ma


wraps are a great idea but he's 2. He will immediately open and inspect. :/


smoothies!!! Awesome! I will try kale smoothies and see howit goes. 


You made me feel a bit better. I suppose it's not the end of the world if he doesn't eat as many veggies as I'd like, but I honestly feel like it is! 

post #5 of 15
DS1 loved V8 juice at that age! Totally weird but worth a try! (low sodium, or homemade if you can swing it!) DS1 was so so picky, he eventually started being less picky around 3.5.
post #6 of 15

You can hide veggies in various things, and make pumpkin bread and pumpkin rolls and that kind of thing. Also, my kids are better with roasted veggies than other veggies. We make "carrot fries" which is carrots cut like french friends and then drizzles with some olive oil and baked like oven fries, and the younger one has always devoured those. 

post #7 of 15
About once a month I make a batch of zucchini bread which makes 2 loaves. My 18-month-old eats it for breakfast with cream cheese, peanutbutter or apple butter if I have it. The 2nd loaf goes in the freezer for another week. I use whole wheat flour, raisins, less sugar than suggested then add extra pie spice & vanilla. Its nice to know that we've already gotten a veggie & whole grain into my daughter at the start of the day. Trader Joes sells a carrot-zucchini bread if thats easier for you to try.

Baked sweet potato fries get eaten w/ketchup & and if all else fails remember that there are tomatoes in pizza sauce & on your spaghetti.
post #8 of 15
Originally Posted by owlhowl View Post

DS1 loved V8 juice at that age! Totally weird but worth a try! (low sodium, or homemade if you can swing it!) DS1 was so so picky, he eventually started being less picky around 3.5.

Here, too!  My DD also really likes cream of vegetable soup in a little shot glass to drink.  Oh, and as cali2tx noted, there's always spaghetti sauce.  I always forget that it counts :) 


Another bit of advice:  Don't let continuous rejection deter you from putting veggies front and center.  I realized at some point that I just wanted my DD to eat, so I would put a much larger portion of the foods I knew she liked on her plate, and only a little bit of vegetable.  Now I give her much less of the "liked" food, so that the vegetable and fruit portion of the plate is very prominent.  I don't limit the food she likes - she can have seconds, thirds, etc., but I keep the portions small so she keeps having to ask for more.  And lo and behold, when that favored spot on her plate is empty, she often will unthinkingly start eating the veggies. 

post #9 of 15

Here are some more suggestions that have worked for us:


DS2 loves to announce the colors of all kinds of everyday things. So at dinnertime we talk about "eating your colors" instead of "eating your veggies". He frequently goes for this - though it works best if we are having a mixture of veggies rather than just, say, green beans.


I would agree with PP that it helps if your LO is involved in meal prep - or, IME, shopping - because I find my own kids are more likely to eat something they helped select and/or prepare.


We also do a lot of whole wheat zucchini bread/pumpkin bread for weekday breakfasts; on weekends I often slip veggies into pancakes or do a frittata. So far they've liked pumpkin, zucchini, carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash and parsnip pancakes. (That's individual flavors, not a blend!) Frittata is only a success if I put grated cheese on top and run it under the broiler to melt just before serving (and they wouldn't eat it cold if their lives depended on it), but has been a great vehicle for broccoli, spinach, kale, and swiss chard - especially when I've added some leftover potato (chopped, not mashed) to the mixture.


Two words: Kale chips! Take a couple leaves of kale to start (any kind), wash the leaves, and tear them into pieces. Spread on a cookie sheet, brush or spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little salt (my kids like garlic salt). Bake at 375 for about 5 minutes - keep an eye on these as you want them to crisp up and go a bit brown at the edges, but they scorch easily. after a couple of batches you'll get the hang of it. I realize this doesn't get an incredible quantity of kale into your kid, but I like the idea that my boys are as excited about kale chips as they are about corn chips. wink1.gif


Try new and unusual things. DS2 (24 mos) goes through periods where he won't touch broccoli or string beans, for example, and I finally realized he was maybe just bored with them. On the other hand, he's responded positively to pickled beets, raw baby spinach, and roasted parsnips, if only because he's generally willing to try anything once. (If your LO is not, this may not work for you!)


Finally: the Cookie Monster approach. One night DS2 announced he was the "carrot monster" and started gleefully shoveling cooked carrots into his mouth with both fists. I was mildly alarmed, but he ate lots of veggies and was having such a good time that I let it go. Now on nights when he won't touch his veg, his father or older brother can be counted upon to announce, "Broccoli monster!" (insert whatever veggie is on the table at the time), and to start smushing broccoli florets into their mouths. This almost always gets DS2 excited enough to want to participate. Inevitably we end up with stray veggie bits all over and the whole scene makes me feel a little like I'm living in a fraternity (remember John Belushi's character in Animal House?!) - but I have to admit, it's almost always effective...!

post #10 of 15

I'm definately going to try the kale chips. My 2 yr. old really likes seaweed, smoothies (no matter WHAT I put in there), and I can usually sneak in a really loaded tomato sauce on a whole grain pizza (I puree carrots, onions, and spinach into the sauce, sometimes even beets) because he won't touch tomato sauce on anything else. He's usually really big on carrot juice (not V8, won't touch that for nothing), but Campbell's is one of the brands we are boycotting right now with the pressure on labeling GMO's and the only brand I've found of straight carrot juice is Bolthouse Farms. They say they don't use GMO's, but I'm really wanting a brand I KNOW is GMO free.  

post #11 of 15

I second the green smoothies idea.

My son LOVES smoothies and asks for them more often than I feel like making them!

We do 60% fruit and 40% greens, plus enough water for the right consistency.

post #12 of 15

I have one of those kids who eats ANY veggie, even ones I don't like, so in order to get me to eat them so she doesn't start to balk I dress them up a bit lol!  Roasted brussel sprouts with garlic and olive oil; sauteed spinach with garlic, butter and artichoke (we are dairy free so vegan butter); and green juice or smoothies.  Baked sweeet potatoes with cinnamon, and honey are a good one.  I've done roasted carrot/sweet potato soup.  If you wanted to hide something cauliflower is prob one of the easiest to puree and mix in - mashed potatoes, mac n cheese, pasta sauce...my vegan friend turned me on to an AMAZING "alfredo" sauce using cauliflower, coconut milk and vegan cheese.  Shredded carrots can go into burgers, meatballs, taco meat.

post #13 of 15
Originally Posted by sassyfirechick View Post

If you wanted to hide something cauliflower is prob one of the easiest to puree and mix in - mashed potatoes



Oh yeah, many veggies mash really well, like broccoli and carrots as well as cauliflower and other root veg like sweet potato or parsnips. My boy loves mashed potatoes and I can easily add some other veg in there and he doesn't seem to mind or notice.

post #14 of 15

My kids are good eaters, but what they want to eat changes, and I let it change.  I do try to make sure there is at least one thing per meal that I know they like.


I am determined to not battle about food in any way.  I want them to have a positive relationship with food.  We have a good diet around here, and processed foods (like cereal and crackers) are occasional treats, not daily fare.  We just don't have them in the house, so there's no battle about it.


Veggies -- my kids are more likely to eat certain kinds of veggies if they are in soup -- chicken or turkey wild rice is a particular favorite.  They also love "teriyaki".  I make a stir fry seasoned with garlic, tamari, a bit of fish sauce, and a bit of maple syrup or honey.  They will favor certain veggies and eat around others, but this is always a favorite meal for both my kids (dd 6, and ds 3).


I love what I've heard said about the parents' job being to offer the kids a large variety of healthy foods, and the kids' job to eat whichever of the foods offered they want in the quantities they want.  I make a healthy meal, usually with at least two components.  I will limit certain things (meat, dairy, bread) to a couple servings, but I basically let the kids choose what they want to eat.  One thing that helps my kids decide to try things they weren't planning to eat is to give them a small portion of everything.  I give them everything, even the things I "know" they won't eat.  When they ask for more of their favorite item I will say, "Okay, let me finish my plate and I'll get you more, maybe you want to try some ___ while you're waiting."  If I hesitate even two minutes in getting them their next serving, they will often eat the other things on their plates.


We've been doing a lot more family style meals now that they are older, and they are allowed to serve themselves, sometimes with assistance.  They are learning about portions and getting better about not piling too much on their plates.  I will still ask them to try a bite of something before their second serving of anything.  I don't push it, though; I want to offer them the suggestion/opportunity, but I don't want it to become a power struggle or sore spot.


Another way my kids eat produce is that I make them a "snack plate" or "veggie plate".  This can be for snack time, or, even better, for an appetizer when they are hungry and waiting for dinner.  I slice up one or two fruits and two or three vegetables and set them out on a plate for everyone to share.  It's usually celery, cucumber, carrot, apple, citrus, red bell pepper, sometimes kiwi, etc.  Sometimes I add nuts, seeds, or dried fruit, etc.  Everything on the plate is a healthy choice.  While they may favor the apple, they also eat the other things on the plate, especially when the apple is gone.  I always set out the plate and start by preparing the vegetables, then they can get started on those while I'm cutting the fruit.


We also juice.  The green juice that dh and I drink is a bit much for the kids, but they will often drink small amounts, and they will almost always drink mild juices with apple, carrot, cucumber, orange, etc. and I usually add a tiny bit of celery or greens.


Lasagna!  I always put a bunch of spinach in my lasagna, and the kids eat the heck out of it.  And speaking of that, if you make spaghetti you can totally cook a bunch of veggies in the sauce and then blend it smooth -- they'll never notice.  I think sometimes my kids pick out certain vegetables because of the texture or because it's too much work to chew them, so mincing them or blending them up in a soup or sauce helps.  They will also eat veg in alfredo.


My kids LOVE pesto.  I used to think I should limit it, but now I just let them eat in by the spoonful if they want; it's so good for them, all that dark green basil, olive oil, walnuts, and sometimes goat or sheep cheese.  Lots of people make pesto with other greens, like spinach, too.


If you make burgers, you can mince onion, garlic, mushrooms, and/or other vegetables finely and mix them in with the meat.  It's a great way to increase vegetables and eat less meat/stretch your meat farther.  Our kids love enchiladas too, another saucy/cheesy place to stash some small diced vegetables.


Also, find the vegetables they love and make them often.  My kids love baked yams.  All that orange, vitamin-rich goodness!  They can eat them as much as they want as far as I'm concerned.  My dd loves a certain way I cook bok choy, so even though ds doesn't eat it, I try to make it regularly.


Hope that helps.

post #15 of 15

Maybe take a break for a few weeks and try reintroducing again, in some fun ways.  But in the mean time, there are lots of foods out there that come fortified with the same benefits as a serving of veggies, like many pastas, pasta sauces, and if you give your kids juice, the V8 Fusion is great.. tastes like fruit juice but also has a serving of veggies  My kids go through phases where they won't eat veggies, and we just take a break, and reintroduce them in a different form.  

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