Vegetables are essential for our daily diet and nutrition. It has the vitamins and nutrients that build our body’s defenses and fiber for good digestion.  Regardless of its benefits, a study from RIVM Netherlands Nutrition Centre has shown that only 40% of Dutch children, ages 1 to 11, consume the right amount of vegetables daily.  For years, how to get kids to eat vegetables remain a common question.

Is feeding your kids vegetables a challenge in your household too?  Or are you wondering if your child is eating and getting enough vegetables into his/her diet?  If you answered yes, it’s time to lift those sleeves for some tricks.  If you think you have tried all the strategies but have not been successful, why don’t you do these tips and see if they will work for your child?

Ten Creative Ways to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables


1.     Swap vegetables with one of the ingredients of your child’s favorite food.

What’s your child’s favorite food?  Does he like pasta dishes?  You can substitute zucchini noodles for traditional noodles. You can also start slow by doing it half zucchini and half pasta noodles.

If your child likes pizza, you can increase the vegetable toppings in the pizza.  You can also make the pizza crust at home using cauliflower or sweet potato as alternatives.

If mashed potato is your child’s favorite, add cauliflower to the mix.

If your kids are into chicken nuggets or anything fried, try making vegetable fritters.  You can fry or bake the vegetables to give them the crunch your child likes.

Is chips your child’s go-to snack?  Why not try kale chips, carrots, red beets, zucchini and sweet potato fries as alternatives.

2.     Hide the vegetables in meat recipes.

Vegetables are easy to sneak into recipes that call for ground meat.  You can grate or mince carrots, summer squash, or zucchini into burger patties, meatloaf, meatballs, sausage, or spring rolls.

3.     Add vegetables into the sauce.

Classic tomato sauce can be healthier and tastier with added vegetables like peppers, onions, carrots, and even squash.

4.     Serve the veggies with a dip.

A report in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics indicated that 64% of the kids involved in the study preferred eating vegetable sticks with a flavored dip.  It also turned out that ranch and pizza flavor dips are the kids’ favorite.

You can serve the veggie sticks raw or fried.  Arrange in a class to make it attractive.  You can add variety in choices of dips by introducing hummus, salsa, guacamole, or nut butter.

While it’s easy to buy ready-made tips in the supermarket, it is best to offer your kids homemade dips.  In this way, you can ensure that the ingredients are fresh and seasonings are controlled.

5.     Do not scrimp on flavor.

Kids may refuse vegetables because of their bland taste.  Do not be afraid to add herbs, spices, and seasoning to your vegetable dish.

6.     Level up the food presentation

Parents usually use plates partitioned into three sections for their kids.  It looks appealing, right?  According to the Acta Paediatrica (101:1) study, these plates only look appealing to us adults but not to the children. Furthermore, they discovered that children prefer food with different elements, colors, styles, and shapes.  Kids love plates with food arranged like a happy face or a fun figure.

You can turn your child’s plate into the artwork by injecting more creativity and effort into it.  If you want the presentation to be more fun and child-friendly, you can check out Pinterest for cute plating ideas.       

7.     Blend into the Smoothie.

Smoothies are cool, thick, and colorful beverages.  You have the flexibility to combine different fruits, vegetables, nuts, and liquids.  It is a fun and healthy way to squeeze vegetables into a yummy drink.  You can easily add healthy greens like kale and spinach without your child noticing it.  

Another advantage of blending vegetables is that the nutrients and fiber remain intact compared to when juiced up.

If you are preparing smoothies for your child, it is best to let the natural sugars in fruits add sweetness to the smoothie drink.  As much as possible, avoid adding sugar into your blend.

Here are two tips when making smoothies:  Freeze your greens too because it will reduce the “green” flavor.  Blend the vegetables very well and aim for a smooth consistency.  Adding more liquids such as milk and yogurt can help to thin out the smoothie.

8.     Turn it into a Popsicle

If your child does not like the smoothie, you can freeze the smoothie instead. 

9.     Mix veggies into dessert treats.

Who can say no to a treat?  There are many recipes online that incorporate veggies into baked and goodies and cold treats.  You can bake carrot cakes, pumpkin pie, zucchini or beets brownies, broccoli muffins, or carrot cookies.    

10.  Hide it in soups.

Soup is comfort food, especially during chilly winter nights.  If your child is not fond of soups, you can start by pairing them with something your child is familiar with.  You can have noodles, potatoes, ham, or chicken in the soup.

Don’t forget to add colors to your soup. Mixing vegetables with different colors can make the soup more appetizing to your child.

Another option to try is to puree the vegetable into smooth soups.  You can make pumpkin soup, carrot and parsnip soup, green pea soup, or tomato soup.

We hope that these tricks help you incorporate more vegetables into your child’s meal.  Introducing and getting your kids to love vegetables may take time and several attempts, so don’t lose hope if it doesn’t work the first time. 

If you want to read up about making mealtimes easier and how to prepare food for picky eaters, you may check out our blog post, 12 Tips for Parents on How to Deal with Picky Eaters | Tiny Steps.  Please head over to Healthy Meals for Toddlers and Preschoolers for sample food plans and recommended servings per food group.

Stay tuned next week because we will share some recipes that you can easily recreate in your homes.  The recipes will help you incorporate vegetables and fruits into your child’s daily diet.

Tiny Steps

We play, learn and grow with children.

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