5 easy peas-y ways to encourage your kids to eat vegetables

Picky eaters in the house? Here are 5 simple ways to encourage your little ones to eat- and ENJOY- veggies!

1. Sneaky 'everything' pasta sauce

When I say everything I mean EVERYTHING. Boil absolutely every vegetable you can and blend it into a pasta sauce. Try broccoli, carrots, peppers, spinach, onions, garlic, kale, peas, sweet potatoes and even asparagus. Make sure you top it off with enough tomatoes to make it appear as tomato sauce. Blend as little as you can get away with, to ensure you can retain as much fibre as possible. 

2. Use the 'Dino fad' to your advantage

What is with kids and dinosaurs? The dinosaur fad is not just an adorable toddler and big-kid obsession that makes others think your kid- who can't tie his shoes- is a smarty-pants... 'tell granny about the eating habits of a triceratops, would you dear?'...

It's also a one-way ticket to veg town. Begin the discussion about how the biggest and strongest dinosaurs are herbivores (i.e Argentinosaurus) and watch their eyes light up as they see veggies in a whole new light! Go one step further and encourage them to play dinosaur as they gobble the leaves off broccoli 'trees'!

Making vegetables the centre of ANY fun game can work - even if your little one is not so Jurassically inclined. Try a My Little Pony mealtime adventure, or pretend peas and corn are the perfect Pokémon training food!

3. Give em' choice

Choice= control... of some sort. Kids tend to enjoy having some level of control over their little lives, and rightly so. Give them this by offering more than one veggie option. This will give them a sense of control and will make them more likely to get those greens into em'!

4. Mix it up

As we all know, appearance is vital when it comes to toddlers. Try to vary how you present the various veg and how you cook it. If boiled carrots are a problem area, why not go for raw carrots sticks? If potatoes have been left behind one too many times, chop em' into chip shape and roast for 'chips'. Try making shapes with peas or sweet-corn.

Another way to mix things up is by incorporating more vegetables into an already-favourite meal. Get them to choose their own veggie toppings for pizzas or to put into a cheesy pasta. The interaction will also encourage a healthy relationship with veg!

5. Dippers

Using carrots, celery sticks or even sweet potato wedges as 'dippers' can change your child's relationship with veg.  Hummus, pesto and even peanut butter can be wonderful dip-options enjoyed by many little tums. If you can turn veg into a way to eat yummy dip, this might just be the answer to your veggie woes! This also works for fruit. Dip apples, strawberries or bananas into peanut butter or melted dark chocolate for an after-dinner treat.

Anna Murray is an Irish student mum to one little girl.

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