Invoking the Jolly Green Giant and Other Tricks: Getting My Kids to Eat Green Stuff

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Photo by Rick Harris, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

During this magical time of year when we’re assaulted by rich foods and sweet treats, I’m trying to balance out the cookies and eggnog in my house with foods that have actual color and crunch.  My kids adore fruit, but vegetables are another story.

Here are a few tricks that have worked for me to get my little ones to eat their veggies (at least, to date):

  • Broccoli-eating monsters.  We started this game when my son was about two and it surprisingly worked. We’d pretend he was a monster and I’d beg him, as one of the poor village people, not to eat all of the trees in our forest.  This delighted him, of course, and he mercilessly scarfed all his broccoli down.  Hopefully this behavior is not a predictor of his future environmental politics.  Recipe: Roast broccoli florets with a little olive oil, salt and pepper in a 425 degree oven for about 15 -20 minutes.  I am completely sold on roasting all my veggies these days.  It gives them a nice, rich caramelized flavor that’s almost sweet.  For a particularly decadent recipe, try Ina Garten’s Parmesan Roasted Broccoli. Yum! Other favorite veggies to roast include sweet potatoes and onions, and brussels sprouts.
  • Smoothies.  I put all kinds of fruits and veggies in smoothies for my kids but refer to them as “milkshakes.”  It’s always about the marketing, isn’t it? Because I can’t consistently get my daughter to slurp down a green drink, I use this trick: blend a couple handfuls of spinach with a little almond milk or milk, making sure to get out all the spinach chunks. Then add frozen or fresh berries, bananas and other fruit of your choice. The colors of the berries override the green of the spinach.  Ta da – fruit milkshake!
  • Egg “muffins”. Basically a scramble in a muffin tin. What’s not to love?  Here’s a basic recipe you can tailor based on what’s in your fridge. I like to include spinach/greens, mushrooms, onions. They also freeze well AND you can stick ‘em in a lunch box. Multi-purpose perfection.
  • Pasta/stir fry – The old stand by.  I sneak in all kinds of veggies into my kids’ pastas and stir fry recipes.  Mostly successful, except for a note that came home in my son’s lunch box a few months ago, in connection to his uneaten, broccoli-laced pasta (sic):20130523_121431

Clearly, this is still a work-in-progress.

I’m always looking for new ideas and inspirations to increase our green intake if you have any to share. Happy holidays and happy veggie eating!

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2 Comments on “Invoking the Jolly Green Giant and Other Tricks: Getting My Kids to Eat Green Stuff”

  1. Candy Puterbaugh
    December 22, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    Heather: Ahhh…it brings back memories. I like the broccoli-eating monster one and, of course, the smoothies and put-everything-in-the-pasta. That’s so funny he sent a note back in his lunch! I printed off the recipe for egg muffins. They look so good. We use to have beet-eating contests to see who could get the reddest tongue. The kids would race to the mirror during dinner! And Jim would “arm plane” the unwanted food in from the sky and their mouths would open like landing pads.

    Cute column!

    Aunt Candy

  2. hlspain
    December 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    Thanks! Love the beet-eating contest idea!

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