Figuring out how to get your kids to eat healthy foods can be tricky, as any parent with a picky eater knows. Some children cringe at the sight of broccoli, while others pick one favorite veggie and stick to it. But eating all the colors of the rainbow is important, as different vegetables have different nutritional advantages. You want your kids to get the best nutrition possible, but at times it can seem impossible to get them to eat the foods they need most.
Use these cooking hacks to do more than get the little ones to eat their vegetables. Help them get excited about it, too.
1. Ask Them to be Handy Helpers
Kids love to feel included in “grown-up” activities. Cooking is no different. There are a few things that even little ones can do in the kitchen, and when you bring veggies into the mix, they won’t realize they’re contributing to their health.
Of course, if they’re very young, stay away from sharp objects and hot stoves, but find a small task your child can complete. Ask them to help you spiralize zucchini or squash to create a healthy pasta. Not only will they be excited to participate, but they’ll be amazed at the spiraling process and excited to eat their magical creation.
2. Make Veggies in Fun Shapes
Every kid loves something that looks cool. Take dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, for example. Piggyback off that idea when cooking veggies. It might be a little more time consuming, but cutting vegetables into fun shapes can bring a smile to your child’s face and encourage them to eat fresh foods.
You can cut carrots into hearts or flowers to add an extra element of love to their plate. Check out these instructions and try it out tonight.
3. Create a Work of Art
You don’t actually have to be an artist, but your little ones will be in awe when they see the veggie creation you’ve presented before them. It doesn’t take long to do, and your kids will gobble them down in an instant. Do you ever make smiley-face pancakes for breakfast? It’s the same idea.
For a healthy breakfast or lunch, create an open-face sandwich that includes a piece a whole grain bread, a light veggie cream cheese spread, and then make a smiley face. You can use cherry tomatoes for eyes, arugula for hair, and half a slice of pepper for the smiling mouth. If you’re feeling daring, use a tiny olive for the nose.
Next time you create a happy-lunch, ask them to help you make some silly veggie faces. Or kick it up a notch and create a veggie masterpiece, like a celery/carrot flower.
4. Have the Kids Grown Their Own Veggies
You don’t need a sprawling lawn and garden to grow your own veggies anymore. There are lots of products on the market that help facilitate indoor growing. Designate the kids as “garden masters,” responsible for watering the veggies, checking on their growth, and watching the calendar for the veggies’ pick date.
By the time your veggies are ready for harvest, the kids will be invested in the project and excited to see how they turn out. After all, it was their garden mastery that produced such delicious food.
More on Parenting in the Kitchen
We get it. You’re busy and tired, and your kid’s nutrition is still on the top of your mind. Check out this list of amazing kitchen hacks every adult needs to help you save time on other kitchen tasks. Also, if you have a child under the age of 6 years old, read up on foods that aren’t recommended for children before you get to cooking.
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