The secret to sneaking in more vegetables into your family’s diet – drum roll please – is to not to. I have many people ask me how to get their kids and even spouses to eat more veggies. Many have read books or seen recipes on how to cleverly mask veggies in anything from pasta sauce to dessert.
My recommendation is this. Eat veggies. Make it a priority at meals but don’t hide them for goodness sake. I’m all about squeezing in as many nutrients as possible – go ahead, shred those carrots, puree those peas and throw some black beans into your brownies. But, for the sake of your children and their trust in you, please stop hiding vegetables.
Allow vegetables to be openly talked about instead of a ‘secret op,’ in the kitchen.
When we make a big deal about kids eating vegetables, or anything for that matter, we spin an unhealthy relationship with food. We create power struggles around food and open the door to a host of negotiations around what’s on our plate. “I’ll give you two scoops of ice cream if you eat all your carrots!”
Veggies should be a regular part of your daily menu, just like fruits, healthy fat and lean protein. Kids are clever and nothing gets by them. They will find the onion or the celery that you minced and then lied about. At our home, we are open and honest about the ingredients we use. Do I cater to everyone’s wishes? The answer is sometimes. For example, my one son has ill feelings towards celery. I’m not sure what celery ever did to him, but if celery suddenly became extinct, he would be rather happy about it. I on the other hand love it – I’ll eat it raw, in chili, stews and tuna salad. Sometimes I leave it out of dishes just for him and sometimes I put it in for the rest of us. It is all about balance and a little give and take.
The thing with teaching our kids healthy habits is that they often learn more by watching what we do rather than listening to what we say. That means that if we make eating vegetables, or anything for that matter, just something that we do with joy, they are more likely to do so also.
Want to get a couple of great recipes that just might change the way you think about chickpeas and black beans? Click here and here for a little kitchen inspiration. Both of these recipes are my family tested and approved!