Veggies are Building Blocks for Your Growing Kiddo
It’s every parents living nightmare — get some nutritious and delicious veggies into your growing kids. The turned up noses and the stiff arm are all too familiar to those of us who have ever tried to get our little ones to eat healthy. I strongly believe that this is the goal of candy manufacturers who have cultivated a world where kids don’t even know the names of fruit or vegetables. It’s scary and sobering. But we can get past this and get our children to love their veggies.
As part of Jamie Oliver’s mission to change the way we think about food consumption, he shares his experience with a classroom of first graders who could not identify simple fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, and cauliflower. In addition to campaigning against vending machine junk food in schools, Oliver has been vocal about eating habits at the most recent TED conference and in the video below:
This post will cover 12 creative ways to get your kids to think differently about food, consumption, and health.
body development and vegetables
Vegetables provide a growing kid with sharp eyes, healthy skin and optimally functioning organs. Vitamins like A, C, fiber, folate, and potassium are quite plentiful in veggies which are invaluable to a sprouting child.
A healthy dose of vegetables keeps the immune system in check helping ward off the common cold, flu, and other viruses that are ever present in our kids lives through daycare and schools. Daily veggie intake can also help prevent obesity, avoid anemia, promote a healthy gut, and aid in healing wounds as well as keeping healthy gums. They also give a healthy and natural boost of energy for the usually lively growing toddlers and kids.
Though little ones are rarely in need of worrying about adult health conditions and diseases, developing healthy eating habits will help promote a lifetime of health that will help prevent diseases like heart disease, stroke, cholesterol issues, and certain types of cancer.
mind development and vegetables
Once your baby is born — and through the first two years of life — his brain develops more rapidly than it ever will again. In fact, the brain grows 175% in the first year of life. That’s why many experts believe it’s important for babies to receive enough DHA during this critical time of brain development. It’s been said that low levels of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA may be a risk factor for certain neurological disorders.
Better school performance is also linked to a good nutritional diet. A study published in the April 2008 issue of the “Journal of School Health.” The study of 5,200 Canadian fifth graders found that the kids with healthy diets were up to 41 percent less likely to fail literacy tests than the other children.
Research has also shown that the food additives used in hundreds of children’s foods and drinks can cause temper tantrums and disruptive behavior. A Government-funded study confirms what many parents have long suspected about the effect of chemicals put into sweets, biscuits and foods. Colorings in products such as Smarties, Jelly Tots and fizzy drinks could spark behavior changes in up to a quarter of toddlers.
How to Get Kids to Eat Veggies
From Seed to Plate. Have them get out into the garden and weed, dig, and prune (with supervision of course). Research shows that kids who grow up around gardens are more likely to eat vegetables. Whether it’s because it’s more fun for them to pluck tomatoes off a vine or because fresh produce simply tastes better when it’s homegrown the denominator is — they will likely love to eat the fruit… or veggies of their labor.
Shop Together. If you don’t have a garden you can still have a similar effect by taking them along to the food market and having them help pick out healthy veggies and fruits. To make it more fun create a game. Get a point system for healthy foods and count them up when you get home. If your kid reaches the magic number they win! Just make sure that the prize isn’t candy 😉
Get into the Kitchen. Creating food together will likely lead to them wanting to try their creations. Offer easy ways to incorporate vegetables in the foods that they love like pizza or tacos. Cut up the veggies and let them arrange it on their plates or create their own platters. The more involved they are in the process, the more likely they are to eat it.
Smoothies & Shakes. It’s no secret that kids love smoothies. This is the perfect way to get them to eat… errr… or drink their veggies and fruit! Just make sure you got yourself a great blender that pulverizes the fruit so you’re not left with a chunky mess that they will likely hate! Using coconut water and organic yogurt is a fantastic way to start off any recipe and you can get creative from there. I’ve been in the market for a good blender for a while. After much research I got the 15 piece set for $99 through Amazon. I am very happy with it after 8 month use.
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Make Summer Ice Pops. A great and guilt free way to get your kids to eat their veggies, especially on a hot summer day.You can use fruits and veggies like beets, cucumbers, broccoli and carrots – try this fruit and veggie recipe by Ursula of Fun and Creative and Healthy Fun Food. Amazon has some really cute ice pop molds. I have these and they are awesome!!!
Taste it All. Next time you’re at the supermarket, let them pick out a new veggie of their choice. Once you get home do some research on recipes, history and fun facts. Make a fun project out of it. Make veggie puppets and put on a show. Find out together what the benefits are. Make a clue game at the end of the week about each veggie that you’ve prepared this week. Kind of like Guess Who but more like Guess the Veggie.
Kid Friendly Recipe Books. There are tons of these out there. If you find yourself stuck on great kids healthy recipes hea
Set a Good Example. The best way to get your little ones to eat their vegetables is to set a good example. They are creatures of copying. They’ve done it since they were able to see your face in their infancy. So, make sure you eat your veggies too!
Create a Cookbook. Get yourself a cookbook binder (or any binder really), decorate it and keep your favorite recipes that you have prepared together. Not only is this a fun activity, this cookbook is likely to be a part of your family through this generation and the next. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have your great-great-grand kids follow the healthy and delicious recipes you and your kids created? Hint — yes, very much so! For this mama anyway. Now, this is a great way to promote healthy eating well into the future.
Funny Veggie Faces & Kabobs. They key here is to make it entertaining. Making food characters or giving veggies alternative names (think “trees” for broccoli or “brains” for cauliflower) will make it much more relatable and fun for the little ones. There are so many ways to do this it’s almost too simple.
Toss’em In. Certain dishes are just screaming for crunchy and delectable additions. Bell peppers in omelets, spinach in casseroles, mushrooms on pizza. The ideas are endless. Next time you’re preparing a meal think of what veggies you can add that you’ve never thought of before. The possibilities will surprise you.
Start’em Young. The sooner you start introducing (and continuing) vegetables to your kids the sooner they’ll learn that this is the norm and that veggies are a part of your every healthy meal.
Is Your Kid Getting Enough Veggies?
Statistics show kids aren’t getting nearly enough fruits and veggies. Only 22% of children ages 2 to 5 meet government recommendations for vegetable consumption, according to a 2009 study by researchers at Ohio State University. Nutritionists encourage kids and adults to fill at least half of their plates with vegetables.
Tips from Bee
Don’t make veggies evil by sneaking them into meals (unless it’s totally unavoidable). This might get them to eat the veggies now but what about in the future? And what if you get caught? You’ll never get your kid to eat another veggie as long as they live creating them into mortal enemies. We don’t want that. Instead, cultivate a healthy way of thinking about vegetables by educating your kids and making eating veggies fun.
Work a healthy eating into other aspects of your kids lives. Drinking water instead of juice or soda is one example. Choosing healthy desserts is another. These fun coloring pages with cute veggie characters is another still.
Your Turn Bees
Do you have a veggie hating kid? Did you find this article helpful to your journey of getting kids to eat (and love) vegetables? Did you love it? Was it lacking? I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips if you have any.
Bell, B. (2014, January 12). What Are the Benefits of Fruits & Vegetables for Kids? | LIVESTRONG.COM. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/408292-what-are-the-benefits-of-fruits-vegetables-for-kids/
Cohen, E. (2011, June 2). Ten ways to get kids to eat their veggies – CNN.com. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/06/02/kids.eat.vegetables.ep/index.html
Sheehan, J. (n.d.). What Are the Benefits of Fruits & Vegetables for Kids? | Healthy Eating | SF Gate. Retrieved from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-fruits-vegetables-kids-6463.html
USDA MyPlate Vegetable Group — Nutrients and health benefits. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables-why.html
Utton, T. (2011, April 8). Which Food Additives Make Children Behave Badly. Retrieved from http://www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/which-food-additives-make-children-behave-badly
Vegetables for Kids. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://nourishmentforlife.org/vegetables/vegetables-for-kids.htm
Why DHA is Important for Milestone Development | Enfamil US. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.enfamil.com/articles-and-videos/why-dha-important-milestone-development
Why Fruits and Vegetables Are Important – FamilyEducation.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://life.familyeducation.com/foods/nutrition/36595.html
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