3 Tricks to Get Your Kids Eating Veggies

Hands with soil and seeds

November 17, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Jihade Rizk, RDN

Parents know that many kids aren’t too keen on eating healthy foods. Whether it be the taste, texture or even color, children have a variety of reasons for refusing to eat well-balanced meals. For anyone who wants their kids to eat more nutritious foods, how do you counteract this stubbornness or get through a picky stage?

“For children who just refuse to eat their vegetables, sometimes you have to get creative,” says Jihade Rizk, a registered dietitian at Palisades Medical Center. “One clever way to ensure your child is getting the nutrition they need is to hide healthy foods in meals they actually enjoy.” Try the tips below to covertly deliver healthy eats your kids will love.

Up your smoothie game.

Colorful, sweet and easy, most children enjoy a fruit smoothie. Use the blender to your advantage and add vegetables to the equation without your kids knowing. “Try infusing raw baby spinach into a smoothie with some blueberries, says Meaghin Svenson, M.S., registered dietitian, clinical nutrition manager at Riverview Medical Center. “The deep color of the berries will mask the green hue, and your kids will recognize the fruity flavor they love.”

Make meat (veggie) balls.

If your kid loves meatballs, meatloaf or black bean burgers, grated veggies can be easily incorporated into the mixture. Some options that work well are finely grated carrots, zucchini or beets. If you already use herbs in your meatballs, adding some finely chopped greens can easily go undetected. Tip: If you’re using zucchini, make sure you squeeze out as much liquid as possible so it doesn’t make the mixture too watery.

Bake in a surprise.

Veggies and delicious baked goods are not mutually exclusive. Are you baking cookies or muffins? Many of the same veggies that can be added to meat or bean patties can be added to sweet treats. Try grating some zucchini and adding it in to the recipe (think zucchini bread) with other ingredients like nuts to help hide any new textures.

And remember, as tempting as it is to sneak healthy food, Michelle Caravella, a registered dietician at Ocean Medical Center reminds parents to still try and introduce more veggies and fruits to kids without hiding them. “As your kids get older, their palates become more refined, and they may develop a taste for the healthier foods on their own. Continue to encourage them to try new healthy food options. Even if they say ‘no’ one day, they may change their mind and sample something new on their plate the next.”

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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