If your son or daughter isn't all that interested in spinach, you're not alone. Trying and failing to get kids to eat their veggies is a never-ending battle for a lot of parents.
"Of all food groups, vegetables often seem to be the one kids tend to warm up to slower," said Natalia Stasenko, a registered dietitian and pediatric nutritionist. "While it hard to pinpoint the trigger, neophobia [the fear of new foods], innate predisposition for sweet flavors, current food environment, counterproductive mealtime strategies and any combination of these may be to blame."
Since vegetables are packed with vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and so much more, skipping them really isn't a good option. So what can you do if your kids keep shaking their heads when you pile on the broccoli? Here are five ideas.
Make cauliflower and zucchini your best friends
Although some nutritionists and parents don't love the idea of "sneaking"' veggies into kids' food, it can be a great way to add texture and flavor to meals, not to mention nutrients -- especially with vegetables like cauliflower and zucchini around. You can bake zucchini straight into muffins, whip up a batch of cauliflower macaroni and cheese and even make cauliflower chocolate cake. Think your kids are going to say no to those options?
Blend up a smoothie
There's a reason smoothie shops are popping up on every corner. It's because they're delicious, not to mention packed with nutrients. They can also be packed with sugar, though, so if you're blending up veggies for your kids, try to do it at home. Load up on spinach and avocado with this snickerdoodle green smoothie and feed them kale in this banana strawberry smoothie. Oh, and a kid-friendly broccoli smoothie definitely exists.
Stasenko cautions against the method of "tricking" kids into eating vegetables. Instead, she suggests, try adding vegetables to dishes kids already like. "Be on his side or her side and be truthful about everything that goes into a dish. I've found that many children actually prefer a little butternut squash puree in their cheese sauce on pasta because it adds sweetness."
Stock up on popsicles
Some healthy snack companies have put fun twists on their products to make them really appealing to kids. Sophie Milrom, founder of the veggie-packed popsicle company EatPops, told The Huffington Post that kids are all about her popsicles, which get their sugar from fruit.
GoGo Squeez snacks are another option. With fun, colorful packaging, these squeezable, 100 percent natural, nutrient-packed snacks bill themselves as "fruit and veggies on the go." Hey, what kid can turn that down?
Make food look fun
Remember how much more fun celery was when it was served with peanut butter and raisins on top, otherwise known as ants on a log? If your kids just aren't that into veggies, try making them look fun -- or pair them with tasty dips.
"It is a good idea to try to pair less preferred foods, like vegetables, particularly those that your child doesn't like so much, with something to give it a little more flavor," Marlene Schwartz of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University told Reuters.
If you're looking for some inspiration on the fun-looking veggies front, check out this Pinterest board of carved fruits and vegetables.
With any luck, your kid will be a veggie lover in no time.
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