The other day my father and I were talking about the sad state of many kids' diets. He asked, "How can we help kids eat better? What can we do about the child who will only eat macaroni and cheese?"
Do kids and vegetables just not go together? A friend with two small girls would always make a separate "kid friendly" dinner that did not offer green vegetables or expose the girls to new food. They were never given the chance to learn to love them.
In comparison, I recently visited with another family with three small kids the youngest is two. Mom pulled out a container of kale salad and all three kids eagerly ate it, searching for every last piece and asked for more.
Children who are fed plenty of fruits and vegetables from the start learn to love them. Here is a video from blogger and author Breeze Harper about feeding her baby green smoothies.
So what do you do if your kids already have decided they don't like vegetables?
I found my daughter would eat raw veggies more than cooked. I often set aside some for her if I was cooking broccoli for example. Now I know that this is the best way to eat veggies anyway.
Get your kids involved in the kitchen. Let them help chop, and prepare the meals. Ask for their input on how to use your veggies.
Introduce children to a wide variety of produce. Today we can get fruit and veggies from all around the world. Let them choose something you haven't tried before when you go shopping. Involve them in the shopping process. They can bag produce, and weigh it.
Get your kids involved in gardening. They will be more likely to eat vegetables when they see the amazing process of seeds growing and bearing fruit and have a hand in the growing process. You can plant a container garden on a porch or deck if you don't have yard space. Or get involved in a community garden and you will also build relationships with other veggie loving folks that can support you and your family. Here is another great video of Ron Finley who is planting gardens in South Central LA in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys." He challenges us to "Plant some s**t!"
And what if YOU don't like veggies? The same things! And be extra careful that you don't let your attitudes discourage your kids.
Educate yourself and your kids about nutrition.
Here are two of the ways I served veggies when I ran a day care many years ago:
Ants On A Log: Cut a stalk of celery into 2-3 inch segments. Spread 1-2 TBL peanut butter or tahini on each piece. Top with raisins or other dried fruit. Serve
Marinated Broccoli: See the recipe here.
So, kids and adults alike: EAT YOUR VEGETABLES! Your future health depends on it.