When my son was younger, he used to say, “Mmm, mommy, this is delicious! Can I have more broccoli?” In his extraordinary growing aptitude of learning what fresh vegetables and fruit meant to a healthy mind and body, my young son was interested in almost every kind of veggies and fruit. Now, several years later, something changed to his palate and now only enjoys certain kinds of veggies. While he still loves a plethora of fruit such as pineapple, mango, apples, and berries, his taste for vegetables has dramatically changed.
It’s true that our palates and tastes change as we go through different stages in life. I once used to enjoy mushy textured fruits, but after pregnancy, I couldn’t bear the texture. I’d assume the same goes for most children in that their parents fed them various types of vegetables just to get some nutrition into their bodies and perhaps teach them about eating healthy. That was mostly what I did for my son—got him to try all kinds of vegetables and force-fed him a few of the not so popular ones. And then I realized that was probably the downfall. I found what my son liked and I kept giving them to him. In turn, he grew tired of the taste and flavor and now won’t even touch them.
So, I learned a few tricks along the way and I’d like to share them here with you. These are all fairly easy ways to incorporate more veggies into your children’s life.
1. Let them know at a young age that fresh veggies are best. Give them vegetables that are easy to recognize and available such as carrots, broccoli, and lettuce. If they see these common vegetables in their meals, they’ll think it’s just a normal part of eating.
2. Expand your kid’s palates by adding more vegetables such as corn, spinach, and sweet potatoes into their meals. Try fresh corn from the cob or frozen, and try sweet potatoes Tempura-style.
3. Take your kids grocery shopping with you. Let them touch and smell the various vegetables in the market. Then have them choose 1 or 2 vegetables they’ve never tried before. If kids have the power to choose, they will most likely be interested in eating them.
4. Don’t limit your child’s taste for veggies. Don’t be afraid to let them try a rare or unusual vegetable such as rhubarb or kohlrabi. Sometimes the most unusual vegetable has the most nutritional benefit.
5. Let your child help you with cooking. Depending on the age, have them help you chop vegetables or peel them. The hands-on technique helps strengthen the relationship between making your own food and enjoying eating them.
6. Let your kids plant a mini garden of vegetables. Easy to grow vegetables are radish, carrots, and bell peppers. Depending on the climate and area, these typically grow within a couple of months.
7. Let your kids see that they can add vegetables to their smoothies. Add mild-tasting vegetables such as spinach and daikon. And more vibrant ones such as beets and carrots.
8. And what’s the best way to show them that? Eat them yourselves, of course! If they see their parents or siblings eat vegetables on a daily basis, then they’ll think it’s the most natural thing in the world to do.