For June we’re celebrating National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, but if you’re like most parents, you’re wondering how to get your little ones to eat a vegetable besides pre-peeled, whittled down baby carrot. If your child’s veggie consumption isn’t something you’d brag about at playgroup, here are a few tips to get your kids eating from the bounty of the summer harvest.
Start Small. Like when your kids are small. The earlier you start introducing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, the sooner your children will get excited about the taste. At as young as six months, babies can eat homemade purees of sweet potato, green beans, and winter squashes. Once a baby hits 8 months, nearly all fruit is open season. For menus and creative food ideas for babies of all ages, check out WholesomeBabyFood.com.
Put ‘Em To Work. Even young children can get involved in the process of feeding the family. If your child is old enough to walk, bring him along on your Saturday morning trip to the Farmer’s Market and give him the opportunity to browse the farmers’ offerings. Encourage him to pick out a new vegetable for the family to try that week. Buy into a community-sponsored agriculture (CSA) farm share and help your kids get excited to see what new veggies will arrive in your box each week (like Christmas in July!). Enlist their help in the kitchen—even if it’s just to throw cherry tomatoes in the salad. Kids are much more likely to try foods they helped prepare. Find the U-pick farms in your area and take the kids to an orchard or berry farm to pick their own. For resources on farms, markets and CSAs in your area, check out LocalHarvest.org,
Hide it. If you can’t tempt your kids with a turnip, and broccoli sends them running, you might try a little ‘creative cooking.’ Jessica Seinfeld made covert cooking famous with her cookbook Deceptively Delicious: Simple Ways to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food. Your kids will be intrigued and enchanted by bright pink pancakes—no one has to know the secret behind that shade was beet juice!
Model Veggie-Love. Your own buying and eating habits naturally trickle down to your progeny. If they see you serving yourself a bowl of steamed kale or snacking on a papaya parfait, they are more likely to do the same. Teach kids about vegetables and fruits and incorporate them into your daily family cooking. If your own mom was a meat and potatoes cook and you’ve never even heard of a Portobello, much less eaten one, give yourself a veggie cooking crash course. You hated soggy boiled Brussels sprouts and your kids will too. Learn how to cook them well and the whole family will be on board. Take a community-ed cooking class or check out a few of the great new cookbooks focused on local foods and farmer’s market produce.
What do you do to get your kids eating and enjoying healthy fruits and vegetables?