While I tried to introduce vegetables to my kids before fruit, to my dismay, the sweet stuff won them over. But it’s no wonder. Upon further research, I found kids biologically are drawn to the calorie-dense fruit for its glucose energy. They also may avoid bitter-tasting foods (like vegetables) because, in nature, bitter is a sign of poison and toxicity.
As adults, we know the vitamin and mineral packing punch vegetables provide. Here are ways to sneak them into on-the-go snacks for your kiddos without a fight:
1. Mix them with fruit
My kids’ favorite snacks are applesauce pouches. Upon further digging, I found similar packets with a great mix of fruit and vegetables — carrots, beets, spinach. While the taste is different than what my kids are used to, overtime I bought individual packets with multiple mixes (usually found by the baby food) and recreated the kid-approved ones at home. Amazon even sells reusable pouches.
2. Bake them into the familiar
Baking is usually off-limits for vegetables. However, I’ve found a way to incorporate the shredded type with little fuss. Finely shredding carrots or zucchini into mini-muffins gives a little texture and more nutrient power. (I also make sure the recipe calls for natural sugar (honey or maple syrup) and nut flour.) Even if I miss the mark a bit, the kids will still eat them because, hey, after all, it’s a muffin. I’ve also tried breads and cakes.
3. Hide them with breakfast
The rainbow of vegetables is immense so I like to try my hand at the non-familiar and mix them into my kids’ breakfast. Why not try mixing pumpkin or finely ground broccoli into silver dollar pancakes (easily freezable for on-the-go).
4. Serve them differently
When my son was 2, one of his favorite snacks was freeze-dried peas (usually available by the produce). They were light and crunchy and tasted like a salty nut. They also had corn and tomatoes. Hunt around for variations which are usually prepared and served in more appealing ways.
5. Pair them with dip
When all else fails, I whip out a plate of creatively laid, colorful raw veggies with dip. The concept of dipping is fun and intriguing. We can experiment with which vegetables taste better with different dips. I can put various dips around their plate and let them decide. We can make our own dip. It gives kids a little taste-testing in their mouth and distracts them from the fact they are even eating vegetables. Hidden Valley makes ranch dip cups in convenient on-the-go containers or do it yourself with plastic containers like these.
Need more ideas? Take a look at The Sneaky Chef : Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals by Missy Chase Lapine and find ways to stealthily get your kids to eat right.