Tuesday, May 22, 2018
How to get more veggies into your kids dietHey parents! If you’re getting ready to introduce veggies to the kiddos, you’ll want to read this. I asked Rebecca Lewis M.S. R.D.N. at HelloFresh to give us some tips on how to incorporate more veggies into our kids diet and get them excited about it too! As a parent of 3, Aliana 7, Sophia 5 and Mateo 1, I can attest that the tips Rebecca gives are awesome and achievable. HelloFresh was kind enough to send us a family box which included meals my family chose online. Jamie’s Sticky Asian -Style Salmon with Broccolini, Quick Pickled Cucumber and Rice, Penne Arrabbiata, and Crispy Chicken Milanese. The box at our door got my kids very excited. Once I told them it was food, they were very curious to have a look inside. As I removed each ingredient one by one, the kids looked over the easy to read recipe cards. They chatted amongst each other on which one they would eat first. My oldest, the Crispy Chicken Mialnese and my youngest wanted the pasta. I told them we’d have to make the salmon first and they just stared at me! Haha! As a cook, I quickly noticed the recipe cards and reviewed each one. It was surprising how easy they were to read and execute. We enjoyed the salmon and had the kids try it and they were able to eat it because of its sweet glaze. Of course, I’d love to have them eat more but we can only do so much. The rest of the dinner meals however were not a problem and every single meal had some sort of vegetable mixed in. They had several servings for each one. Now lets look into other ways Rebecca suggests we introduce veggies to the kids and have them enjoy it too!
BONUS: Don’t forget to read the questions I asked Rebecca regarding kid smoothies, and more at the end of this article! You won’t want to miss it! I’m sure many of you would ask these same questions regarding introducing veggies to the kids!
erin mayhugh photography

erin mayhugh photography

“If you’re a parent with picky eaters, you are not alone!  It can be very frustrating when you are trying to help your child eat a healthy diet and they reject the foods you provide them with. Many parents are concerned their kids are getting enough fiber and vitamins and/or that the meals they are eating aren’t full of too much fat or sugar. These fears are valid because the eating habits kids learn when they are young follow them into adulthood. The biggest impact you can make on your kid’s diet is to make fruits and vegetables the cornerstone of what they are eating. They contain the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that strengthen the body and help kids grow in a healthy way.  However, this is easier said than done and many parents have struggled with getting their kids to eat to the point that they just give up!
Here are some tips to help you, so that you can introduce your kid’s taste buds to healthier foods that they will learn to love even as they get older!
Easy tips to get your kids to eat more veggies:
  1. You can’t control every bite your kids eat – th
    at said, don’t give up; on average, it takes over a dozen presentations of a new food before a child is willing to just taste the food — and as much as a further dozen tastes before a child will actually eat something new.   Forcing your kids to eat foods they don’t like only reinforces their dislike for the food.
  2. If you have a fussy eater, encourage your child gently.  Children shouldn’t be forced to eat a new food, but they should be encouraged to simply taste the things that are served.  With this in mind, try not to offer new foods unless you yourself are in a relaxed mood so that the experience is pleasant for both of you.
  3. Even if your child is a picky eater, always have veggies present on the table at every meal.  This allows them the “choice” of selecting the veggies themselves.  Also, make sure there is always at least one thing on the table your child does like.
  4. One way to increase the variety of new foods in your child’s diet is to try eating fruits and veggies of all colors of the rainbow.  You can make this a funactivity by doing “taste training” with your children.  For example, choose one type of food (like citrus) and try many different varieties (i.e. lemon, orange, grapefruit, and lime).  Ask children to pick a favorite – it may turn into their new favorite flavor!
  5. Try incorporating mashed or pureed vegetables into meals.  Butternut squash in mac and cheese gives a beautiful yellow color and a rich sauce that can still be flavored with cheese.  Beets taste amazing in tomato sauce, and give it a gorgeous deep red hue.  Blend steamed cauliflower into mashed potatoes – and they’ll never even notice it’s there!
  6. You can also build variety on top of what kids already like by introducing variations on your children’s favorite food dishes.  For example, if they like one type of rice, try others (i.e. white, brown, wild, Arborio, basmati, jasmine, etc…).
  7. Research has shown that when kids help in the cooking process, they are more likely to eat the meal they are helping prepare.  Safe ways to involve your kids are; washing the fruits/veggies, measuring, mixing, chopping softer veggies
  8. Lastly, remember kids are watching everything their p
    arents do.  If you aren’t eating (and enjoying) veggies with every meal – neither will they!
Bottom line, it is important to remember that as parents, you are in charge of your children’s food education. In fact, children will eat what adults eat – so modeling positive eating behaviors yourself is critical.  If you eat well, chances are your children will as well. Lastly, take a look at your family’s schedule, is your busy lifestyle preventing you from eating proper meals. If so, try to make sufficient time in your schedule for healthy eating in order to teach this important skill to your children.
How to incorporate more veggies into your family meals
Here’s a list of ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet:
  • Zucchini: Add in grated zucchini to your meatballs, hamburger patties, or spaghetti sauce. For a healthy twist on baked goods, you can even add in grated zucchini to your breads, muffins, and cookies!
  • Butternut Squash: Incorporate mashed or pureed vegetables like squash into meals and snacks adds creaminess without added fat. Butternut squash in mac and cheese gives a beautiful yellow color and a rich sauce that can still be flavored with cheese. Adding pureed pumpkin into ordinary oatmeal gives it an extra fiber boost and a bright color.
  • Beets: Beets taste amazing in tomato sauce and sweeten it up without added sugar. You can also add pureed beets into pancake or waffle mix, for pretty pink princess pancakes!
  • Cauliflower: Blend steamed cauliflower into mashed potatoes – they’ll never even notice it’s there! You can also try it in mac and cheese for a sneaky
  • Spinach: Blend spinach into fresh fruit smoothies to give them both a nutrient and color boost. Mixing with sweet and tart fruits like banana and mango makes for a kid-friendly twist.
  • Berries: Ditch the jarred jams and jellies and puree fresh berries for toppings on oatmeal, pancakes, sandwiches and desserts.
  • Leafy Greens: Pesto doesn’t always have to be basil-based! Add in kale or spinach and even other herbs like cilantro or parsley for a different and equally delicious flavor.
Here are some kid-friendly HelloFresh recipes that incorporate vegetables in a tasty way that the whole family is sure to enjoy:
About HelloFresh
HelloFresh is demystifying cooking. We find ways to break the barriers many people face when making the choice to cook at home (or not). We work around time, convenience and even cost – leaving our customers to experience the best part of cooking, the actual cooking.  We want to show our customers that cooking at home can be easy and fun even for the most novice chef!  We plan the meals for you (with a Registered Dietitian on staff to make sure the meals are balanced and nutritious), source the ingredients from high-quality vendors, pre-measure ingredients, and deliver everything right to your door. We also provide simple recipes and shorter cook times (30 minutes on average) to better fit into our customer’s daily routines. HelloFresh helps you try new foods and learn new cooking techniques. On a monthly basis, HelloFresh provides between 40-60 different fruits/veggies, 20-30 different herbs/spices, as well as 10-12 different cultural cuisine types. There is always something exciting and new to try!
How to get more veggies into your kid’s diet
Here are a couple of questions I asked Rebecca Lewis M.S. R.D.N. regarding introducing veggies to kids!
Do you think adding veggies to smoothies is a great way to start the introduction to kids?
Smoothies are a delicious way to drink your fruits and veggies.  Plus they are better than fruit juices because you get all the benefits of the nutrient dense fruits and veggies PLUS you keep the fiber.  Additionally, with smoothies you make at home, you can control the amount of sugar your child is consuming!  A great way to add sweetness is by adding in a banana or a few dates or frozen berries.  TIP:  For a pretty pink drink you can add in roasted beets!
What would be your top 5 veggies to introduce to kids?  
I’d do a “taste the rainbow” exploration with the most kid-loved veggies.
  • Red Bell Peppers (red), served with different dips like hummus
  • Carrots (orange), sauteed with butter and cinnamon
  • Sweet Potato (orange), baked vs. mashed
  • Broccoli (green), roasted or sautéed
  • Lettuces (green), provide a variety and ask kids to describe the taste differences
BONUS:  Avocado (technically a fruit – but so creamy and delicious)
 
Do you recall what veggie was your first love?
While I don’t remember exactly which veggie I first fell in love with, my favorite veggies now as an adult are Spinach, Sweet Potato, and Avocado – they are staples in my fridge!
 

I want to thank Rebecca for being so helpful and supplying these tips that really do make a difference. Try one of her tips today. See how it works. Give it time. If you feel it might not be working, move onto her second tip. Keep trying. Do not give up! If you have some tips yourself, please share them below! Lot’s of parents will be reading this and will enjoy every bit of advice they can get! And if you want to try HelloFresh, you can use my promo code for $35 off your first order with HelloFresh! Enter code MEALPREPMONDAYS at checkout on www.hellofresh.com.

PS: Rebecca will answer your questions live tomorrow 4/20/2016 on our Instagram channel @MealPrepMondays . Join us at 3:00 PM and ask her how to sneak in more veggies in your meals! 

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