"Did she just say we’re having broccoli for dinner?! Quick, grab the dog!” Admittedly, I remember whispering these exact words to my older sister quite often as a child, as we dreaded even the thought of eating something green. This scene has flashed through my mind so many times as a parent, especially when the decision not to like the evening’s dinner vegetable is made before the food is even plated!
Making the family decision to live organically and green means not only a healthy environment for everyone to live in, but also nourishing our bodies with healthy foods as well! Encouraging each member of your family to eat healthy is extremely important, yet there will be times where your children are just not ready to truly decide what foods they like or don’t like without judgment. Sometimes you hit the limit with making smiley faces out of veggies, using special crinkle cutters to make carrots look like orange fries or allowing your kids to drench their veggies in copious amounts of ranch dressing.
If you want to forgo the dinner argument tonight, and still help your family benefit nutritionally from the vitamins, minerals and fibers found in vegetables, there are things that you can do to add extra nutrients into your meals.
-Blenders are a great way to sneak vegetables and extra nutrients into your meals. Blended vegetables can easily be added to Italian dishes, sauces and soups. Simply cook your vegetables as you normally would and then puree them and stir into your dinner entrée.
-Grate zucchini, carrots or cucumbers and add them to your favorite muffin recipe or pancakes. You can even add vegetables to cheesy casseroles where they can hardly be noticed.
-If everyone loves potatoes, try adding pureed cauliflower or sweet potatoes after mashing.
-Create a healthy sweet treat by adding some carrots or other vegetables to your fruit smoothies or milkshakes. The strong fruit flavor of peaches, apples, strawberries and blueberries highly overpower the taste of vegetables.
When you feel that your child is beginning to enjoy eating and cooking food, try these ideas to help make mealtime a success:
-Create a “no thank you helping”. If you don’t like something that is served for dinner, you will take at least two bites. This will allow your child to receive the nutrients they need, as well as reduce the possibility of wasting food.
-Eat what your kids eat. So many times as parents we cook one meal for the kids and a separate, more adult meal, for the parents. Make mealtime fun and have everyone eat the same food at the same time.
-Establish good eating habits from day one. If you encourage healthy eating habits from your child’s first bite of solid food, the chances that your child will continue healthy eating are significantly increased.
-Cook with helpers. If you let your children help prepare dinner with you, be it by shelling pea pods, stirring sautéed vegetables or de-husking corn, they may be more enthusiastic to eat what was prepared for dinner, as they prepared it!