We’re searching for something. Could you help us? They’re a healthy lifestyle’s kryptonite, a small child’s enemy, and a doting parent’s dream.
That’s right! We’re looking for vegetables – and today, we’re looking for ways to help your child embrace them, and make them a part of their daily lives, from the lunchbox to the dinner table and everywhere in between.
Veggies are a key component of a healthy mind, diet, and lifestyle. Though our greens provide us with important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, the CDC estimates that only 1 in 10 adults eat enough fruits or vegetables. For children, eating the right amount of vegetables is proven to boost energy, vitamins, antioxidants, and even decrease risk of serious illnesses later in life. It’s not easy to teach your children the value of living a healthy life, and with the recommendation that kids should eat 4.5 servings of vegetables daily, it can be overwhelming to start.
However, helping your child embrace vegetables is more accessible and easy than you might think. All it takes is a bit of patience, creativity, and a quick trip inside the mind of a six year-old to crack the code. Keep reading for our top 10 tricks, and, before you know it, your child will smile instead of frown when they see that plate of asparagus emerge from the kitchen!
Involve your Child in the Cooking Process
We’d like to invite you to think back to one of your fondest childhood memories. Chances are they involve your parent, grandparent, or guardian’s soothing voice, a puff of flour, and the sound of the oven beeping. Do you remember the pride you felt the first time you helped make traditional chocolate chip cookies, a special holiday meal, or your favorite cultural dish?
Inviting your child into the kitchen with you doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence, but try implementing it into your weekly, or even monthly routine. Allowing your child to “play chef” alongside you promotes independence, teaches kitchen safety and etiquette, and, if nothing else, starts a conversation surrounding foods that are less-than-desirable, like vegetables. Sharing the kitchen can also spark discussion about celebrating other cultures, and teach basic math and language skills in an interactive and inventive way.
Simply put, kids are more likely to feel excited about eating foods that they helped to prepare. They’ll rave about the experience to their friends and teachers, ask to make certain recipes with you, and, most importantly, remember it for years to come. So, for tonight’s meal, try having your child cut up those veggies! It’s the first step in a great meal, and the first step in helping your child embrace vegetables.
Get in the Garden
If you can’t involve your child in the cooking process, take it from the top (or, in this case, the root!) and involve them in the growing process. Starting a vegetable garden can save you money on groceries, provide an outdoor outlet for your children, and teach them about science, environmental conservation, and healthy eating from seed to sprout.
It’s also worth noting that, when you pick vegetables from your own garden, the vitamin content will be at its highest. And if you don’t have the outdoor space to start a vegetable garden, here’s some information on how to grow your own indoor vegetable garden.
It certainly takes time, patience, and a bit of practice to grow a vegetable garden. But the opportunity to involve your child in a transformative experience that’ll empower them to grow their own good food? To us, that’s priceless.
Blend it Up
With some fruits and vegetables, a blender, some ice, and your favorite base liquid, the possibilities are endless. Smoothies are fun, delicious, and a creative way to pack all the right nutrients into a single drink. Serve them up in tall, fancy glasses or with silly straws to turn breakfast into an experience that your child is sure to remember.
And the best part? Smoothies are easy to make, and can typically be whipped up with whatever’s already in your fridge. A tip we love is using vegetables like beets to achieve a fun magenta color that kids will love – minerals, vitamins, and nutrients guaranteed!
If you’re stuck, check out these kid-approved and veggie-packed smoothie recipes. Want something more filling? Make your smoothies a bit thicker to turn them into bowls and adorn with heaps of fruit, nuts, or any topping of your choice. Check out one of our Makeena brands – Bubba’s Fine Foods – for nutritious granola. They’re perfect for topping off a smoothie bowl, and with the Makeena app, you’ll earn cash back if you buy from brands like Bubba’s!
Host a Dip Night!
What kids don’t love classic dips? They’re easy to eat, and customizable to fit anyone’s taste buds. For your next family dinner, set out some dip choices, but this time – no chips. Fill a platter with carrots, cucumbers, peppers, celery sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, and more.
And the dips don’t have to be unhealthy or highly processed, either! Try this best-ever veggie dip, or get creative with whipped feta cheese, organic hummus, ssamjang, tzatziki or spinach-artichoke dip with greek yogurt for a lighter alternative. Watch as your kids try wacky combinations or play it safe with what’s familiar, but, regardless, they’re getting those veggies in – and that’s what’s important!
Hide ‘N Seek Isn’t Just for Kids
And if all else fails, hiding those veggies in practically any classic meal is foolproof. You can mix in chopped veggies to your favorite recipes with minimal thought and effort, and we can guarantee that your child won’t even raise an eyebrow.
Here’s a list of our favorite foods that can help camouflage an extra serving of vegetables: soups, lasagna, muffins, brownies, pasta sauces, and macaroni and cheese. We love these spinach brownies, so don’t hesitate to give them a try to satisfy your family’s sweet tooth.
And the Most Important Ingredients? Education and Empowerment!
Whether you decide to start a vegetable garden or hide veggies in your family’s favorite recipes, the journey to a healthy life and diet should be approached with the three E’s: Education, Empowerment, and Encouragement.
By simply leading a healthy lifestyle yourself and ensuring that you have enough greens on your own plate, you’re already leaving the footprints behind for your kids. And if they’re not yet ready to take the leap and try that suspicious food, start the conversation about healthy eating at your dinner table and model it through books, movies, and television shows.
Having these conversations, exposing children to opportunities to live healthily, and leading by example will plant the seeds for a happy body, mind, and soul. Instilling the importance of mental, physical, and spiritual health at a young age will empower your children to make the right choices, each step of the way – and it all starts with that first bite.