6 Tips for getting your Toddler to eat vegetables

I know vegetables keep us healthy but that doesn't mean it's always easy to get my daughter to eat them.  Sometimes more of the broccoli ends up on the dog than in her belly, and the carrots become a lovely conditioning agent in her hair.  But I refuse to give up!  


Here are some tips that have worked for us:

1. Share veggies off your own plate:  The more vegetables I eat the more likely my daughter is to want them as well.  Especially if I share directly off my plate!   

2. Serve vegetables as snacks in an on-the-go cup (whether or not you're on-the-go).  For some reason peas, carrots, and diced veggies taste better out of one of these...

These are the  Munchkin Snack Catchers  that you can find on diapers.com.  I'm not paid to endorse these products, I just think they're pretty great. 

These are the Munchkin Snack Catchers that you can find on diapers.com.  I'm not paid to endorse these products, I just think they're pretty great. 

3. Be aware of your facial expressions:  Do you offer the steamed spinach while smiling or do you scrunch up your nose?  I dislike cantaloupe but still offer it with a smile and you better believe I chew and swallow that cantaloupe if she offers to share.     

4. Use fresh produce and mix it up:  I kid you not, my daughter will eat broccoli that has been cooked that day but won't eat it the next day.  If your kids are picky try mixing up cooking methods, serving freshly steamed or even raw vegetables instead of previously frozen.  Today we made some roasted broccolini (pictured above, tossed with a little olive oil and baked for 20 minutes at 350).

5. Mix vegetables with a familiar food: Add spinach, kale or peas to homemade macaroni and cheese or any pasta dish.  Add carrots, spinach, kale, or chard to meatballs.  Make smoothies with strawberries, banana, and greens.  

6. Start young and try, try again:  It can take 10 to 15 encounters with a food for a child to feel it is familiar enough to eat.  It may take a while but don't give up, persistence pays off!  In the meantime, hopefully you have a dog who likes veggies...

Every child and every family is different.  What are some tricks that have worked for you? 



Upgrade your PB & J

As I stand at the kitchen counter reminding myself to breathe, my one year old daughter is alternating between throwing tiny pieces of toast onto the floor, and spreading avocado in her hair.  Feeding children isn't easy.  

It's no wonder peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a go-to dinner for many busy families.  And you know what, that's okay.  Especially if you upgrade your ingredients.

Peanut Butter - Choose an unsweetened peanut butter with little or no salt added.  I use the 365 organic brand from Whole Foods but you can also grind your own at most Whole Foods stores.   Look for one with less than five ingredients and make sure you can pronounce all of them.  

Almond Butter - Almond butter is another excellent option.  The Whole Foods 365 brand has an unsweetened almond butter with only one ingredient - dry roasted almonds.  Here's an article from Livestrong about some of the benefits of Almond Butter.  

Jelly - Look for a jelly or jam with no sugar added that contains only a handful of ingredients.  Personally, I find it difficult to find jelly that lives up to my standards so I usually slice strawberries or bananas into thin pieces or blend my own by tossing some fruit into a blender with just a little bit of water.   

Bread - Use a whole wheat bread from the bakery section of your supermarket.  Ask them about the ingredients they use and look for ones with whole wheat flour, water, yeast, and not much else.  Beware that some bakeries add honey to their whole wheat products.  If you're cooking for children, honey is not recommended for those under 12 months of age due to the possibility of infant botulism, a rare but serious condition that you can read more about here.  

Pair your PB & J with some carrot sticks or your veggie of choice and you have yourself a meal.