(BPT) - Peas, carrots, broccoli and spinach ... some kids love vegetables, but many do not. We know that veggies provide nourishment, especially for growing children, but getting your kids to eat healthier can be a challenge. Luckily, there are plenty of creative ways to increase the amount of veggies in your kids’ diets. Here are five tips to get the little ones in your life to eat - and even enjoy - their vegetables.
Picky eaters might turn up their noses at the sight of leafy green vegetables, but they’ll gladly accept a tasty, blended treat. Incorporate a variety of veggies, plus some fruit for sweetness, into a smoothie, and your kids will just taste the sweet fruit flavor. Throw a few broccoli florets and a handful of spinach, along with some green grapes, a bit of pear and avocado, plus water and pineapple juice, into a Vitamix 5200 to create a sweet green smoothie. The little ones will think they’re enjoying a decadent treat, but they’ll also be getting antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients.
Squeeze the juice
Most kids enjoy a nice glass or box of refreshing juice. Rather than giving them store-bought juices, which could be loaded with sugar and missing essential nutrients, utilize a high-powered blender to make whole-food juices at home. Use carrots, pineapple and a little water to make a sweet yet healthy juice that contains antioxidants and fiber. With whole-food juices, you’re able to keep the healthiest parts of the fruits and vegetables: the seeds, skin and pulp. Plus, you'll know exactly what your kids are drinking.
Sauce it up
What kid doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? Increase your children’s veggie intake by making a homemade cheese sauce with healthy ingredients. Puree cauliflower, carrots or butternut squash, add them to your sauce and serve over whole-wheat macaroni noodles for a more nutritious version of this favorite dish. You can also make a fresh tomato sauce to serve over spaghetti squash “noodles,” a wholesome, gluten-free alternative to traditional pasta. To make the “noodles,” simply halve and seed the squash, then bake in a dish with one-half cup of water at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. When the squash is cooked, use a fork to scrape the flesh, which creates the “noodles.”
Another great way to get more veggies into your kids’ diets is to add them to a soup. Many kids would rather not eat plain broccoli, so try a low-fat cheesy vegetable soup that incorporates this essential ingredient. All you need is broccoli or cauliflower, low-fat milk, low-fat cheese and some spices to make a nutritious, satisfying soup. Your kids will love the cheesy taste - and you’ll love that they’re eating more vegetables.
A frozen treat is a satisfying way to end a meal. Create an avocado sorbet using soymilk and a touch of sugar, or make a spinach-lime sorbet with fruit juice for sweetness. You can make the sorbet ahead of time and let it freeze, or use frozen fruits and vegetables to whip up a quick treat in a high-powered blender. Your kids will enjoy their dessert, and you’ll enjoy knowing it’s full of healthy veggies.
You may have to be creative to get your children to eat the recommended three to five servings of vegetables each day, but there are many ways to introduce them to new flavors. Try some of these ideas, and your kids will be getting the nutrition they need. Also, when it comes to eating your veggies, be sure to lead by example. Children are much more apt to try new things if they see others enjoying the food.
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 3/4 cups green grapes
1/4 Bartlett pear, ripe, seeded, halved
1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled
1/4 cup coarsely chopped broccoli
1/2 cup spinach, washed
1/4 cup ice cubes
Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
Select Variable 1.
Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
Blend for 35-40 seconds or until mixture is smooth.