Hy-Vee at Midday: Kids and Veggies

By Susannah LeVon, Hy-Vee Dietitian

Kids and Vegetables? What's a Parent to do?

It isn't always easy to get children to eat the nutritious foods. But you can plant the seeds while children are young for healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Put simply, children like what they know and they eat what they like. From the very earliest age, children's experiences with food influence both preferences and intake for the rest of their lives! Research suggests that the earlier and broader that experience, the healthier the child's diet.

Wilson Avenue Hy-Vee has had a "Get Out and Grow" program all summer where children, ages 6 to 14 years of age, planted, watered and harvested vegetables. Then we went to the kitchen and made delicious food which most of the kids ate!

So how do YOU influence your child to eat more vegetables?! Every family and child is different, but Susannah will share 3 "RULES" and 3 TIPS to help your children eat more vegetables!

3 RULES:

#1. Do not FORCE anyone to eat anything! Instead, try to encourage tasting something new by saying, "Taste it, you never know, it might be your favorite thing in the whole world and you will never know if you don't taste it!"

#2. Respect likes and dislikes! We all have them. Children do too. Research has shown that 70% of kids tested were "bitter sensitive", meaning some vegetables have a very unpleasant taste to them. Dips can help these kids eat more vegetables, for example serve a lite ranch dressing with cut up vegetables. It is so much fun to dip too! Often our taste buds change as we age and we often like more foods. So instead of saying, I hate that, say "I don't like it YET"!

#3. Be a role model! IF you don't like many vegetables, your children won't either! Let them have a chance to taste the ones things you don't like! Another saying we have is "Don't Yuck someone else's Yum"!


So here are 3 tips to help your children (of all ages – spouses included!) eat more vegetables:

1. Make them available! Some kids need to see a new food many times before they try it! Put vegetables out often! When everyone is hungry and waiting for dinner, put out some cut up vegetables with a dip or hummus. Put out new items with familiar vegetables. If kids are hungry AND you put out colorful, flavorful fresh cut-up vegetables and a dip AND you pay no attention to whether they eat them or not – there is a greater chance that some of the vegetables will make it into their tummies!

2. Serve vegetables in different forms. Cut them up in different shapes – carrot strips, coins and curls. Steamed broccoli and cauliflower may be more acceptable than raw. Serve them with dips or parmesan cheese. Even try them frozen! peas, corn, bananas, peaches......so easy, you almost feel guilty!

3. Sneak them in! Used pureed cauliflower in your mac & cheese, add veggies to soups and puree them with milk to make a creamy soup. Add pumpkin to your pancakes for a kid friendly breakfast that you will love too!

Here are some of the kid's favorite recipes from our "Get out and Grow" program:

Radish Crostini Serves 4

All you need:
8 large radishes, trimmed
6 tablespoons softened cream cheese
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
1 (8-ounce) baguette, sliced

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Grate radishes into a bowl or use the grater disk and grate using your food processor.
3. Combine with cream cheese and parsley.
4. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until crisp (but not rock hard) and golden.
5. Remove from the oven and spread each toast with radish cream cheese.

Note: Help your kids learn to cook, by letting them help! Our kids grated the radishes, mixed the radishes with the cream cheese and spread it on the toasted bread.


Pumpkin Pancakes

All you need:
Whole grain pancake mix
1 small can pureed pumpkin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Water or milk

All you do:
Mix pancake mix, vanilla, cinnamon and water according to the box directions. Add ¼ cup to 1 cup of pumpkin, depending on how many pancakes you are making. Serve with whipped margarine and a spoonful of sugar sprinkled over the pancakes (instead of syrup).

Note: Help your kids learn to cook, by letting them help! Our kids measured and mixed ingredients. The older children learned out to make and flip the pancakes!
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