How To Get Your Child To Eat Their Veggies

JJ Virgin at says teaching kids to appreciate a variety of in-season veggies is a great way to encourage a healthy lifestyle. As summer heat gives way to fall and back-to-school season, the local farmer’s market fills up with a rainbow of options. Taking your kids to the farmer’s market to help pick out produce gives them hands-on exposure to new foods and lets them feel involved in the process. Virgin says “I encourage people to stick to nonstarchy vegetables as much as possible, so here are five in-season vegetables to try on your kids”:

1) Broccoli
Lots of moms coax their kids into eating broccoli by drowning it in cheese. Sure, they’re getting their vegetables, but they’re also getting plenty of fat and sodium from the cheese. Instead, pair broccoli with garlic. This adds a nice, tangy taste that many kids will love. Some kids will also eat raw broccoli, because it has a nice crunchy texture (younger kids may even get a kick out of eating tiny little “trees”).

2) Cabbage
If your kids like cole slaw, that can be a great way to incorporate cabbage into your meals. However, I recommend using white vinegar and a healthy oil (such as canola) instead of creamy, fatty mayonnaise.

3) Leeks
Leeks are delicious in soup (broth-based, not cream-based), and making soup is a great way to work in other seasonal vegetables as well (such as mushrooms or celery). Plus, you can make a big batch and freeze the leftovers for a quick, healthful dinner when things get hectic.

4) Mushrooms
Mushrooms are another savory soup option; you could also saute them with chicken/tofu, rice and a healthful oil for an easy but delicious dinner. Putting turkey, mushrooms and other veggies into a whole-wheat wrap also makes a quick and tasty lunch.

5) Zucchini
You can sneak shredded zucchini (or carrots) into muffins, meatloaf and burgers. Making zucchini boats is also a fun, kid-friendly option that’s easy on mom, too: Just slice a zucchini lengthwise, scoop out some of the pulp using a teaspoon or melon baller, fill your zucchini “boats” with toppings such as a healthful tomato sauce, whole-wheat rice or other veggies, then bake for about 20 minutes until they’re warmed all the way through.

Eating from the rainbow of vegetables adds color to your plate and helps ensure that you — and your kids — get all the nutrients you need.

Your turn: What are your favorite veggies — and do you have any tricks for getting picky eaters to try them? Email me

Posted in Mark Grauer and tagged .

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