Ok, this is a really REALLY important post. It is the vege-centered argument at dinner time had at a huge percentage of Aussie homes. It usually starts with “I don’t want to eat…” and quickly finishes with an argument, tears and usually a glass of wine for an exasperated mum.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Vegetables can be an exciting and delicious part of everyone’s diet so long as a few things line up. First, it is important that the relationship with this necessary food is a good one. Setting up kids to value and enjoy their veges really is the first step. Second, kids knowing more, being more involved and more invested in their food goes a long way into getting them to actually eat it.
So how do you make this happen? How can we help you and your kids enjoy dinner time and consume your daily vegetable serve with a smile on everyone face.
Its simple, just do these three things:
- Grow them
My daughter LOVES the garden. I am sure that it is because of the digging (she loves being covered in dirt) and I am also sure it is the pure joy she gets from picking the delicious bounty our garden provides. This doesn’t need to be a huge step as a wide variety of veg can be grown in only 10-20cm of soil. My tip – try picking crops like tomatoes, sugar snap peas and corn (my daughters favorite) that have straight from plant to plate properties. The less preparation they need the more the kids can enjoy picking, eating and exploring.
- Show them
Monkey see, monkey do is a BIG thing when it comes to our kids and what they eat. Showing your kids that you (and you truly have to, they are amazing lie detectors) love your veg is the simplest and most effective way to get them eating more. The way that I have found easiest to do this is to make sure the veg we offer every night are ones that I really like. Personally, I have never been a fan of raw carrot. But, give it to me roasted or steamed and glazed in honey and I’m in. My daughter sees daddy chewing away happily and it just makes sense for her to do the same.
One more thing. It is also monkey hear, monkey do. The way we talk about our food, the way it effects us and what we think about it is also vitally important. Kids will quickly pick up on ‘butter making you fat’ or ‘I need to be low carb’. Please take your time and be careful around the words you use to describe food. They are listening and they are learning.
- ‘Mexico’ them
Ok, sorry for the last weird one… but its sounded too good in my head not to go GROW SHOW MEXICO!
One of my daughters favorite foods is the Mexican street food Elote. This incredible, spiced, creamy, cheesy, tangy version of corn on the cob is a real delight. Plus, she usually eats a whole cob (that she grew) to herself. Now I know what you might be thinking – “Duh… add cheese, lime juice and paprika to anything and they’ll eat it”. And well, you’re right. I think it is far too easy to serve up the same steamed variations night after night. Wouldn’t you get bored? Keeping your kids engaged in their food could be as easy as adding a little honey and sesame seeds to carrots one night, or super slow cooking some cauliflower in some milk and garlic (delicious).
Last tip: Start!
You need to start to get effect. Start small, grow some tomatoes. Start with you, try a new veg (or a forgotten favorite) this week with your little one. Start without too much of a leap, maybe just add a little cumin to your roast carrots.
Three small steps, one massive result at dinner time.