Greens Of Goodness

When veggies are forced to compete with fast food and sugary sweets, it’s no wonder that kids turn up their noses when you feed them the green stuff. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Teach your kids to love their vegetables with these simple tips.

Child eating broccoli

1Start young.

The sooner you start promoting veggies to your kids, the more likely they will learn to love these nutrient-rich foods. Start by exposing your children to veggies as soon as they begin eating solid fare. Even if your children seem to dislike a new veggie at first, keep on trying. It can take between five and 10 exposures for your children to warm up to a new food.

2Get creative.

Kids love crafts and creativity, so use that to your advantage when serving your kids veggies. Consider trying the following veggie crafts:

  • Cucumber cookies: Purchase cucumbers with a wide diameter and slice them into round pieces about 1/8-inch thick. Help your kids use small cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes such as stars, hearts and butterflies. "Ice" the cookies with a thin layer of low-fat ranch dressing or plain Greek yogurt.
  • Salad faces: Set out a plate of lettuce, sliced carrots, sliced peppers, radishes, cucumbers and grape tomatoes. Give your child a paper plate and a little bit of ranch dressing as "glue." Have him arrange a variety of veggies into a funny face on the plate before "gluing" them in place. Once the face has been assembled, she can eat the masterpiece.
  • Veggie tic-tac-toe: Draw a tic-tac-toe board on a paper towel or paper plate. Slice up at least five pieces of four different kinds of colorful veggies. Popular veggies include carrots, cucumbers, broccoli or grape tomatoes. Let your child choose which vegetable to use as his or her game pieces and proceed to play a game of tic-tac-toe. Whoever wins gets to eat five veggie pieces of his or her choice and gets to assign five veggie pieces to the loser. Continue playing until all the veggies are gone.

3Teach & engage.

When your children understand all the benefits of eating veggies, they may be more inclined to eat them. Explain that the vitamins and minerals found in veggies can help improve their eyes, skin, hair and nails while also helping their bodies grow and develop the way they're supposed to. After teaching them about the benefits of veggies, take them to the grocery store and let them choose any two veggies that they want to try. Once you get home, help them research recipes that use these veggies and work together to make the dish. You'll quickly discover that kids are more inclined to eat exotic dishes if they feel invested in the food on hand.

How children like their veggies cooked

Kids and veggies: It's often a love/hate relationship -- you love them, they hate them. Maybe the key is in the preparation. A new Dutch study finds that crunchiness counts.

More eating tips for healthy kids

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5 Simple rules for raising healthy kids
Best exercise games for healthy kids

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