Today’s Kids Eat Right Monday Message addresses a point of internal struggle for many health-conscious parents: should you sneak vegetables into your child’s food if they don’t like eating them?
Getting creative by shredding carrots into your spaghetti sauce or folding mushrooms and onions into meatloaf is a perfectly acceptable strategy, but it shouldn’t be the only strategy. If you hide your child’s vegetables, how will they ever learn to recognize and accept them as a healthy part of their diets?
It’s a good idea to serve vegetables in their natural form along with their disguised counterpart. That way, children can begin experimenting with tastes, textures, and aromas. They may even recognize the taste as “that yummy sweetness in Mom’s meatloaf!”
Learn to serve vegetables center-stage….er, plate! Increasing your own culinary skills with different vegetable sides and main dishes will allow your whole family to explore new flavors and styles of food. Kids may like garlic-roasted more than baked or steamed; they may even find the crisp crunch of a raw carrot more appealing compared to the soft, sweet nature of a steamed one. Plus, seeing a colorful plate will help kids internalize what a healthy plate should look like. Even if they don’t realize it, internalizations like this will carry over into college and adulthood when your kids have to prepare their own meals. I know I want my nieces to tell their friends, My Aunt Riley always served food that was healthier and super good when I was at her house, so I try to emulate her in my habits.
Kids eat what they see their parents eating, so don’t skip yourself when trying to improve your kids’ nutrition. Let them see you eating AND ENJOYING different veggies. Odds are, they will be more willing to try them and more likely to enjoy them if they see you enjoying them!
Finally, hide veggies in plain sight. Pizzas, tacos and burritos, pasta, casseroles, and lasagnas offer great opportunities to mix in chunks of veggies like mushrooms, spinach, black olives, broccoli or cauliflower, onions, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados. Kids can see how veggies mix with foods they already like this way. The article mentions mixing butternut squash into mac and cheese– I have never done this, but it sounds DELICIOUS! So you see? Nothing is off limits. Get creative with your veggie medleys!
The second part of this week’s Monday Message is a recipe for Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
I personally have never enjoyed Brussels sprouts that weren’t heavily sauced with cheese, but this recipe actually sounds pretty simple and pretty yummy. I can’t share all these healthy messages to you all if I’m not willing to try something new myself, so I’m making a resolution for myself: I will make these saucy sprouts at some point in the next week or so, take some pictures, and let you all know how it goes.
While I’m doing that, think about some ways you can increase veggie consumption in your own life and the life of your kids and family! Any insights? Share below! Have a happy Monday!