Sometimes you just need to find easy ways to get kids to eat vegetables *And maybe a picky Dad too.
Vegetables!! Bleh! Yuck!! No! No! No!
No, I’m not describing my kids. This used to be me just a couple years ago, and this is the way I would react to eating any vegetable. I was super duper picky. I wasn’t just picky. I was so pig-headed that I would refuse to try anything even resembling a vegetable. Coincidently, I was also nearly 100 pounds overweight.
Luckily, I am an entirely different person when it comes to food. However, my past pigheadedness is now my advantage as a Dad. I’m able to empathize with my kids when I ask them to eat their broccoli. (side note: I still don’t like broccoli) I use my own feelings towards eating vegetables, past and present, to answer these questions:
- Why don’t they like it?
- How can I hide it next time?
- Are there any easy ways to sneak veggies in?
4 Easy Ways To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables
4 Easy Ways To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables #1
This is probably the most obvious strategy to get kids to eat vegetables. In fact, it’s the way I started acquiring a taste for certain veggies. My “gateway smoothie” was the Green Machine drink from Naked Juices. That drink was full of veggies, and it tasted great. Unfortunately, it was also loaded with sugar in the form of fruit juices.
I started making my own version at home using spinach and frozen pineapples. Over time, I used less and less fruit to sweeten our smoothies. After about a year, I eliminated all sweeteners. My kids & I are now able to drink a kale or broccoli smoothie with no fruit or sugar at all. We don’t necessarily love them, but we get all those nutrients with little hassle.
Skip the Juicer
Of course in order to juice a vegetable, you could simply just buy a juicer. I personally don’t like juicers. They are super messy and kind of a hassle to clean up from. You also have to buy an enormous amount of vegetable to get one glass of juice. You’re also concentrating the sugars in those juices without the fiber to slow down absorption, you’re going to cause blood sugar swings that can lead to poor behaviors.
**UPDATE** I’m changing my opinion on juicers. Juicing is a great way to get those super healthy polyphenols and enzymes in your kids. Fiber, fat, & protein actually slows down and can prevent full absorption of polyphenols, so juicing is great for this. Just make sure you don’t go crazy on high sugar vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes…etc.
I bought this juicer because it comes with a 15 year warranty and it’s a slow juicer meaning it doesn’t destroy the enzymes in the veggies.
Get a Powerful Blender
This is why we prefer a high-powered blender. We LOVE our Vitamix. It’s expensive for sure, but we use it at least 3 times a day, every single day. It is really easy to clean and can take care of your hardest vegetable. We’ve had it for nearly 5 years, and it’s still running strong despite it’s many, many uses. Some people love their Blendtec blender, but for me Vitamix is the best blender out there.
Watch Out for the Pulp
The biggest challenge you’ll have when starting to make smoothies is the pulp. There are a couple of ways to get around this obstacle. First thing you can do is strain your smoothie through cheesecloth, which will catch all the pulp. This is my favorite way to drink veggies, but it does take more time and creates more mess.
Make Your Smoothies Creamy
The other way to get around the pulp is to blend in something creamy. A banana is a great way to make your smoothie creamy and sweeten it up. Bananas also help to mask the flavor of the veggies too. However, if you’re like me and don’t want all the sugar from the banana, there are a couple other options. Avocados, nut butters, canned coconut milk, or yogurt can also help hide the pulp without the added sugar. Many forms of fat will help create a smoother texture. MCT oil or avocado oil will help smooth things out without altering taste.
Use Fruit at First
Start your kids, or yourself, out with a simple smoothie with spinach, pineapples and honey. Then, slowly reduce your fruit and sugar. Once you get used to drinking veggies, try to branch out with other veggies like kale, carrots, or beets.
Keep it Green
The whole point of these smoothies is to get your kids used to consuming vegetables and to help them start liking them. It’s a good idea to make sure you don’t try and change the color of the smoothie. A lot of people are averse to the color green, so sweeten up that smoothie with their favorite fruit or fruit juice. Once they get a taste of it, they will go in for more. Hopefully, they’ll soon realize that green doesn’t automatically mean it’s gross. Then, you’ll be able to slowly start reducing that sugar content.
4 Easy Ways To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables #2
Creating a sauce/dip is the easiest way to get kids to eat vegetables. I transform veggies into some type of a sauce every evening for dinner. Many vegetables puree into a beautiful creamy texture, and they can take on a variety of flavors.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Butternut Squash barbeque sauce
- Sweet Potato chili sauce
- Cauliflower Hummus
- Zucchini Buffalo Sauce
- Fermented Daikon Mustard
- Acorn Squash Pizza Sauce
Simply Use traditional herbs/spices with non-traditional veggies.
The easiest sauce to make is from a canned (non-BPA) puree such as butternut squash. I am amazed with the versatility of this winter vegetable. I’ve transformed this into a BBQ sauce, pizza sauce, and even replaced the tomato sauce for making a chili sauce with it. You can take any recipe that typically calls for tomato sauce or tomato paste and insert a new vegetable.
For instance, for my sweet potato chili sauce I simply pureed 2 sweet potatoes added my chili seasonings, onions, garlic, beef and boom- it was chili. And it tasted just as yummy as a traditional tomato-based chili.
Essentially, all squash, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, & sweet potatoes will puree into a nice creamy sauce after they’re cooked. You’ll be surprised how much these pureed veggies can taste exactly like their traditional tomato-based versions. Let your creative juices flow, and find your own ideas on easy ways to sneak veggies into a sauce for your family.
4 Easy Ways To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables #3
Breads, pies, cakes, & cookies are other ways to get kids to eat vegetables. Paleo pumpkin pancakes are very popular these days. Sadly, I have never been able to pull of pancakes. I started making bread in the oven instead. I’ve been rotating butternut squash, zucchini, and even cauliflower puree into a bread I bake for breakfast.
The flavors I add are the same, but the different vegetables give each bread a different taste. Vanilla, cinnamon, clove, allspice, & nutmeg added with some Kerrygold butter, eggs, and 1/2 cup of veggie puree make pretty yummy breakfast bread. Cauliflower and zucchini do need some sweetening up, so I use a little monk fruit sweetener for those.
Dinner breads can be more savory than a breakfast bread. If you’ve watched our Paleo Bread Bake Off video, you noticed I threw in about a half cup of onions. This bread was delicious, and it tasted almost like a cornbread. I’ve made a version of this using both cauliflower and zucchini too. They were all hits at dinner, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different veggies.
4 Easy Ways To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables #4
There are many ways to disguise veggies from your kids. You can chop them up, shred them up, or puree them depending on what you’re making. Sometimes, it’s best to change the color as well.
No Fuss Broccoli
If you want your kids to eat their broccoli without a fight, it’s best to disguise that bad boy. I still don’t like broccoli, so I need to hide it from myself as well as the kids. I’ve managed to make a beef and broccoli dish that has made it into our main dinner rotation. In fact, Gavin has even requested it a couple of times. I can season it up beautifully, and 2 of my 3 kids will eat it up. However, if I want Ethan to eat it without a fuss, I have to make it not look like broccoli anymore.
My secret with beef and broccoli is good ol’ molasses. It’s black, so it changes the color of broccoli very nicely. This is the one dish where I make an exception on adding sugar to our meals. I’ll add 1 or 2 tablespoons of molasses because, frankly, I don’t like broccoli. A spoonful of sugar helps the broccoli go down…… in the most delightful way.
I will actually add 2 bags of frozen broccoli, but I will puree one bag with the molasses and spice mix (allspice, cinnamon, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper). Then, I’ll chop off the stems of the other bag and then I chop it with my spatula as it cooks. By the time it’s done, the kids can’t distinguish the broccoli flowerettes from the ground beef.
Make Veggie “Flour”
Here’s another idea, you can dry the veggies in a dehydrator and then grind them using a spice of coffee grinder. I do this with cauliflower sometimes. You can take 4 cups of fresh cauliflower and turn it into less than a cup of cauli “flour”.
Cauliflower tots are another easy way to get kids to eat vegetables. They look similar enough to regular tots and you can just tell your kids they are homemade tots (don’t even say cauliflower, so they don’t make judgements before they try it). Our family makes this every week. My son and I made a video on how to make these. Watch that below or click here for my cauliflower tot recipe.
5 Cups of Vegetables Day
I use each one of these tricks as easy ways to sneak veggies in and get kids to eat vegetables every single day. My kids end up eating at minimum 5 cups of veggies per day and at least 3 different vegetables per day. Personally, I’m still getting used to many veggies, but these strategies help me enjoy them without a fuss.