Want your kiddos to LOVE veggies?!
So did one of our readers, Christopher Britton! Today I'm sharing a guest post with you from Christopher, and he's got some great tips on how you can work on your kiddos' taste buds here...
"I myself do not usually make good food choices. Throughout college, I survived on instant ramen and McDonald's. However, ever since I became a dad, I worry a lot about the food that we prepare and eat at home. I had to change my eating habits to be an example to my daughter.
Unsurprisingly, vegetables became “dad’s food" and my daughter learned to love junk food from her peers at school anyway. This year, I've decided to change my daughter's eating habits without her hating me or my vegetables. Here's how I convinced my junk-food-loving daughter to love veggies...
1. Let them in the Kitchen
Because of obvious reasons, any parent would not allow their kids near open fire, or to use the oven. However, as her teacher said, kids are very proud of things they make themselves. So, why not let her make her own meals? Of course, my wife and I would not let her cook on her own. Cooking time became a family affair for us. My daughter is excited whenever we let her cook her meal. Seeing how to prepare food and actually doing it on her own makes her appreciate, not only vegetables, but the value of home-cooked meals. Whenever we finish cooking, she beams with pride with what she created. This makes her appreciate greens like broccoli and asparagus, which were unappealing to her before. Unwittingly, I also learned to cook and this forced me to eat food I'd usually never eat.
Cooking with the family meant missing nights-out with the guys at work, but I enjoyed it more than anything else. For my daughter, our kitchen became one of those playgrounds that help develop different kinds of skills. I even heard her wanting to become a chef in the future!
2. Spices and Recipes
I never liked vegetables because of their bitter taste and mushy texture. How could I convince my daughter to eat something I don't even like? My wife taught me how to use spices and herbs with vegetables to make them different. I realized that it is not only easy to mimic the taste of junk-food in vegetables, it's also exciting.
My daughter loves anything sweet. So instead of preparing bland dishes, we decided to follow her taste pallet. Recipes such as honey-glazed carrots or sweet potato casserole instantly became her favorite dishes. A dash of barbecue sauce in roasted eggplant, potato, and bell pepper makes the meal exciting and special. Now, she doesn't mind seeing green on her plate. As for desserts, instead of buying chocolate mousse, we would make our own "Berry Delicious Dessert". It's vanilla ice cream with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Sometimes we would add banana.
One key tip I got from a mom at my daughter's school is to let the smell and presentation lead her to the food. Forcing kids to eat vegetables, like what our parents used to do, only adds negative perception. Eating should be enjoyable. So, we would usually take time to make our plates look good and special, just like the ones I see on restaurants or recipe books.
3. Food Options and Cheat Day
There is a reason why our grandparents never had problems with what they ate. Back then, fast food was relatively expensive and it was just for special occasions. Of course, it does not mean that my daughter can't eat her favorite Happy Meal once in a while. Now, eating out is only reserved for holidays or on weekends. This instantly became something we look forward as a family. Every Sunday, my family would spend time in the park and eat lunch in a restaurant.
Also, it would have been very difficult for her to appreciate healthy food if she kept seeing junk food in our own kitchen. So, my wife and I changed a few things in the shopping list. Instead of chocolate cookies and chips, we opt for fruits, vegetables, and other healthy choices, such as yogurt and orange juice. Yes, we don't drink cola anymore.
I admit that changing my daughter's food preference seemed a very daunting task at first. But it turned out that in order to convince her to eat healthy food, we needed to change our own eating habits first. A change in lifestyle is necessary to inspire children to make better choices."
Christopher Britton is an Interior Architect, blogger and a dad. He specializes in writing about DIY home improvement, home security, and even a little parenting now and again.