You are asking this question at the perfect time! There is nothing better than eating a cherry tomato picked off the vine right outside the kitchen door. My I-hate-everything-green-and-leafy son sampled a baby spinach leaf this weekend, and went back for seconds and thirds! Try growing some veggies, or heading over to a farmer's market and letting your kids pick something to try.
There is a big distinction between raw leafy greens and other raw veggies. When my kids have friends over, I set out a veggie tray with raw bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and whatever other non-leafy veggies I have. Every time, the tray is emptied before the other parents come to get their kids. If we are having our more picky friends over, I'll put out some kind of dip, but most kids will just hop on the raw veggie bandwagon without the dip.
We also do raman noodle night, inspired by the movie Ponyo. I slice up whatever odds and ends are in the fridge and everyone gets to put their own proteins and veggies on top of their noodles. It's the only time my kids will choose to eat celery and onions (although they don't like peas anymore. . . )
In general, my kids like their veggies simple and identifiable. Our two favorite preparations are roasted with simply salt, pepper, and olive oil, or steamed and served with a bit of butter. This way, if I make multiple veggies, the kids can pick out the veggies they want and leave the onions behind.
not my children, but my pseudo niece and nephews - two year old fraternal twins and 6 year old boy.
-kale chips - who knew? i've mixed soy sauce and oil and misted them before baking
-cooked carrots or spinach or whatever you like/think inside of enchiladas
-ravioli filled with mostly pureed cooked veggies (broccoli, onion, spinach, etc) and just a little ricotta to hold it together
-the vegetable forest - a pond in the middle of the plate (dressing of choice) - some logs in the water (carrot sticks)/ boats (cucumbers sliced lengthwise - if they're older you can add a sail taped on a toothpick), trees (broccoli), giant ladybugs (grape tomatoes), and grass (cooked shredded spinach) around the lake... I prefer to par-cook the veggies.
-potato knish - with cooked broccoli pureed into potato
highly agree with involving the kids in the prep and/or making the dishes fun - ie the vegetable forest.
best of luck! i'm sure you'll muddle through :)
I second the post from inaplasticcup. And also I do a slight variation (in addition to the one posted), you can also use hoisin instead of oyster sauce and add a little sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Green beans are great with this and you can substitute with steamed eggplant pieces, but green beans are more fun because they are crunchy.
I like udon noodles stir fried with vegetables. Butternut squash or sweet potato soup.
Oh! Kids that come over love making their own omelettes or pizzas! I let them choose the vegetables that they want to put in and for omelettes, they can squish it with eggs and seasonings in a ziploc bag. For pizza, they put on all their own toppings. Then you cook it for them. As Rockles mentioned, if they help and you praise them they'll eat anything. And I think if they take ownership, they'll feel proud about what they're eating and think about it more. You can also do this with kebabs for the grill and if they don't like veggies plain, maybe offer choices for seasonings or sauces for brushing or sprinkling.
Hoisin is nice and sweet. My SO will eat anything if you put hoisin and/or sriracha on it. He's very adverse to veggies but knows I'm only making one thing. Problem is, sometimes he makes his own side dish and I don't want our future kiddies to think that this is a "thing" we do.
As others have said, puree the vegetables. I make turkey chili, meatloaf, meatballs, pasta with sauce (or like a baked ziti kind of thing, with or without meat) and I always add in some pureed broccoli and carrots. I keep large quantities of frozen broccoli and carrots in the freezer just for this purpose. My daughter will eat anything, but my son (age 4) not so much so it's more for him.
I will also make various stir fries and mix the chicken (or ground turkey) with the rice, and then throw a cup or the broccoli and carrots in there for him. He won't eat broccoli alone, but he actually knows it's in the "chicken and rice" and he willingly eats it, even though he sees the green and orange specs.
I tried the mac and cheese with pureed butternut squash, but my son did not go for that. He couldn't see it, but knew it tasted different.
I just keep trying and encouraging him to eat the vegetables alone and he says "when I'm 5", so a few more months and we will see. In the meantime, he gets vegetables mixed in with his food.
He will eat tomatoes. Maybe a fruit by definition, but a vegetable to me.
also, I got a kid's knife from Pampered chef and I try to give her a vegetable to chop when I am chopping. She particularly likes raw pepper. Tomatoes too but they are messy. She even ate some celery the other day - I hate raw celery but she was pretty hungry. I was totally impressed!
Also I never try to disguise food - I always tell her what I'm giving her or what is on her plate. That way she is more aware that there are lots of different kinds of foods in the world and she can figure out on her own what she likes and doesn't like. I also tell her she can spit it into my hand if she doesn't like it (when it's a new food).
It took me 24 years to like raw celery. Taste buds change and children need to know that. Once and done doesn't really cut it.
I know a few adults who need to learn this as well.
Kudos to not "hiding" the veg. I was considering doing this with my SO but have since decided against it. I do sometimes wait for him to taste something before I tell him everything that is in it. I don't want any prejudgements.
My kids love steamed asparagus as long as they have a dip and as long as its not overcooked. I make aioli for them to dip into, and also honey mustard for the younger one.
great trick to get them to eat veges is to put them in spaghetti sauce or hamburgers. I just puree them in blender or processor and incorporate them in the sauce or in the meat.
lso if you have the kids help you fix them and praise how good they turned out, they seem to eat anything.
one other is cauliflower mashed in with mashed potatoes
I don't have kids, but I do have a 4-year-old nephew who is a picky eater. He loves a simple pasta i make with broccoli. Basically, boil a head of broccoli until you can mush it with a fork, and then sautee some garlic and olive oil, add crushed or pureed tomatoes, seasoning, then the broccoli and a little cream to top it off. And top with some cheese. I make it with rotini.
Alice Waters has a really nice recipe for long-cooked broccoli that is very similar to this. Basically, you just cook it to a mush with some oil and lots of garlic. It makes a paste you can spread on bread or use as a sauce for pasta. I like the idea of adding a bit of cream to this as well.
My picky nephews also enjoy broccoli prepared this way (minus the tomatoes). It would also be a good topper for a pizza.
Another thing they get excited about is smoothies. They like being able to make up their own flavors by combining different fruits, and you can easily toss in some spinach without really affecting flavor.
I don't know how this happened, but I have a 10-year old daughter who is a great veggie eater and loves trying new foods. My household includes my Scandinavian parents (who think salt and a little black pepper are all the seasoning anything needs), my finicky bachelor brother and my vegetarian husband. On one of our outings to H-Mart (a local Korean grocery store with all kinds of interesting produce), she decided she wanted to try brussel sprouts and ended up converting the entire family. I quarter them and saute in a little olive oil with sea salt, garlic, and lemon juice.
When her friends are over for a meal, I try to be more crowd-pleasing in what I prepare without becoming a short-order cook. I have found that stir-fried vegetables with some teriyaki sauce or sweet & sour flavoring is pretty well-accepted. Better if noodles are included. In general, butter and sugar seem to make lots of things more palatable to the picky eater--no surprise there.
Our pediatrician gave me wonderful advice when my daughter was a baby and I was slightly neurotic about ensuring she received proper nutrition. He said to not worry about the ratio of fruits & vegetables, just do my best to make sure she was getting something--if she liked fruit best, let her eat fruit and forget the veggies or vice versa. Vitamins, nutrients, and fiber will be found in both so he suggested to try lots of things, to not sweat it if she didn't like certain healthy veggies or fruit, and to use what she liked as a place to build from. I am sure not every pediatrician or nutritionist would agree, but it sure helped me lighten up and thankfully, it hasn't ever been a problem.
I tend to put a little soy sce or lemon and olive oil on broccoli. And generally, asian stirfried greens, started with a base of ginger and garlic. With a bowl of rice and making sure they are well seasoned with soy, a touch of white wine, a pinch of sugar and finished with sesame oil, my DD will hoover this kind of food up.
Stirfried noodles in a sweetish sauce. I always marinate the chicken in soy and honey, plus a bit of whatever else asian - rice wine, or sake, or mirin. Then quickly stirfry garlic and ginger, spring onions, and then whatever veg I have, usually carrots peppers zucchini broccoli and green beans or snow peas. THrow in the chicken at high heat, let it sizzle in its marinade, reduce heat and add a bit of water, lid on for a few min, then check to taste. I usually stir in [whisper it] a tb of peanut butter which adds calories as my baby is a bit skinny, and is a good source of protein and helps the sauce cling to the noodles.
Always goes down a treat.
Roasted califlower ( cut up small) topped w/ seasoned panko ( 4C makes a great one!) and grated or shredded parmesan. I roasted the cauliflower ( EVOO, garlic, salt , tiny bit of pepper to taste) until it is just about soft, when it is, i top w/ panko and cheese to get nice and crispy. It is sooo good that I make double batches b/c we eat it as picky-picky food!!!!
There's a sidebar for carrot chips just to the right of this column. Oven baked and crunchy might work with the ranch dressing dip. Also, did anyone mention kale chips?
Pot stickers with shredded vegetables. Vegetarian stuffed cabbage rolls in tomato-based or gravy-based sauce.
Moraccan carrot dip
Can adjust the spice and is fabulous on pita chips.
Whipped feta with peppers dip
Can adjust spice and is fabulous on pita chips.
Roasted: carrots, parsnips, squash cubes, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes. I find the more crispy it gets the better it tastes. Add spices or herbs or maple syrup.
Mashed: cailiflower with potato, sweet potatoes,
Soups:Creamy carrot soup
Just as good without the milk product
Tomato Basil soup is good too. I am not a chunky soup fan too much so puree might be better for kids as well.
Green beans in oyster sauce is the one veg dish that both my kids and all their friends gobble without fail. Just oyster sauce, garlic and sugar, but the key is to caramelize the oyster sauce and sugar in some medium hot oil before you toss the green beans in. I use about a tablespoon and half to two of oyster sauce (depending on how salty the brand), 1 clove minced garlic and 2 teaspoons sugar for a pound of green beans.
Shredded zucchini and carrots, steamed or sauteed and tossed with a little butter, salt and pepper.
Diced corn, diced zucchini, cooked black beans, diced tomatoes if the kids will eat them, sauteed - call it confetti.
Vegetable noodle soup (read: minestrone, classic veg. soup, etc - fun to vary these with pasta shapes, etc.)
On the same track, "Penny soup", coins of carrot, zucchini, small potato, etc., steamed and floated in stock, or just cooked in soup.
Baby carrots; steamed or roasted, with a touch of butter and orange juice to glaze them.
Zucchini fritters, corn fritters
Sauteed noodles tossed w/ diced veg and/or mushrooms
Pasta sauce, with any veg. shredded in and slowcooked. They will virtually melt.
Believe it or not, pearl onions, peeled and steamed and dressed with butter and a bit of salt. They're very mild and sweet-flavored, and kids really dig pressing them with their fork or spoon and watching "baby onions being born." Like a nesting onion Matreshka doll.
Cobbettes of corn. Unintimidating.
Any kind of veg, kabobbed and grilled.
If it's strongly-flavored veg. that your kiddos object to, it's okay to avoid them and just use the ones they're all right with. Different methods of prep., like the shredding or the kabobs, can frequently be the key to acceptance. And don't ever forget applesauce, esp. sugar-free and homemade. Of course it's not a veg. but it stands in just fine as a healthy part of any meal. You can make sauce of stone fruits, too, and mix with applesauce.
I have one chowkid and one who hates everything. I despair of him. But he will eat steamed broccoli (it has to be the kind with larger, more open leaves or whatever they're called. The tighter, bluish ones are bitter.) He will also eat baked sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon. These are actually very nutritious.
Other simple ideas: make mac and cheese your usual way, but bake in some cauliflower or carrots that you have previously steamed until tender. The cheese really compliments the veggies and their tender texture helps them blend well with the macaroni. My kids love this and have since they were very little.
Replace the liquid in breads or cakes with steamed pureed zucchini. This is delicious in cornbread, They won't get a large portion of veggies this way, but if they like the bread, you can tell them the flavor is due to zucchini, so you're absolutely *sure* they will enjoy it on its own.
If they are old enough, have them help you prepare veggies. If they've helped, they'll take pride in their work and may want to try what they've made.
Make a simple vegetable soup without a lot of seasonings (you can add garlic, vinegar, cayenne or whatever to the adults' portions later.) Puree the soup with some cooked rice and serve it as a dip for croutons. Kids usually love dipping stuff.
Cut up all their cooked veggies into bite size pieces and put them on frilly toothpicks. (My mother did this with me and called all veggies "hors d'oeuvres" to make them sound fancier. This didn't work with my son, but you might have better luck.
Soups, graveys, etc. My kids always liked soups (especially if they could dunk bread) and graveys (what kid doesn't like mashed potatoes) so we typically made it a habit to liquify veggies and include them in those. Hidden veggies work well in other foods too. Sometimes it's difficult to hide strong vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, etc.) but others are fairly easy. Remember, corn and peas are not vegetables, they are starches. So if those are an issue you'll need to consider their overall dietary value in meal planning.
Oven roasted anything. Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, beets, brussel sprouts. Anything. Salt and pepper them heavily, toss in olive oil, and roast at 400F 'till done. 8 minutes for asparagus, 45 for sprouts, everything else somewhere between. :)
They also love steamed artichokes. I think that's more the getting to dip and then throw the leaves into the garbage bowl at the center of the table though. ;)
I'll give you two caveats - 1) I don't have kids, but I used to be one 2) my Mother is an old school, eat-what-you're-given-or-starve, I worked all day and then put this on the table type mum, but we actually really liked vegetables (her meat skills were, at the time, interesting).
Things I loved making/eating with mum for more vegetables:
Brocolli with ginger and soy sauce
Vegetable croquettes with mashed taters, sweetcorn, peas, diced carrots
Sweet potatoes and yams, roasted
Ratatouille with eggplant, courgette, red onions - my mum talked about this like an exotic treat, so it felt like one when we ate it.
Maybe mild asian noodle soups, with grated carrot, bok choy, sugar snap peas etc?
And while not technically vegetables and very much raw, how are they with a little bit of salsa or avocado?