If your children are anything like ours, then you know how hard it is to get them to eat their vegetables. You already know that vegetables contain an excellent source of vitamins and fiber, which have enormous benefits for health and mood. You probably even repeated the benefits of consuming vegetables to your children. But this has largely fallen on deaf ears and now you’re here because you’re tired of the battles.
Let me first say, and you already know by now, that there will always be battles. You’re not going to be able to get your children to voluntarily eat a salad or a bowl of vegetables in the next ten minutes. That takes time and frankly, you don’t have that kind of time or energy to complete what is essentially a lifestyle change. We’ll discuss how to transition to that in a later article but for now, I’m including some quickfire ways to get vegetables in your child’s diet TODAY without the specter of significant battles or complaints. Let us know if any of these worked for you as they did for us!
1. Sweet Potato is a Vegetable
That’s right. Sweet potato is a vegetable. It’s a starchy vegetable but it’s still a vegetable so you still get points for that. It’s a great source of vitamins (Vitamin A and C), minerals (potassium), and fiber. There are several ways to prepare sweet potato but here are a few that work really well for the picky eater.
- Sweet Potato Shake. Use half a sweet potato. Cook first – the fastest way is in a microwave: poke holes, cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Remove skin unless you have an industrial blender. You can mix the sweet potato with your favorite frozen fruit, peanut butter, or have it plain preferably with a milk of your choice. The sweet potato has a naturally sweet and earthy flavor and nicely thickens any shake. Also, you will want to invest in those cheap steel cups you can get online. Shakes taste better in steel cups.
- Sweet Potato Chips. Use 1 sweet potato. Slice as thin as possible. Place in a bowl. Add 3-4 tablespoons of mayo (trust us on this), salt, pepper, and garlic powder or chili powder to taste. Mix by hand. You can either air fry these at 350/360 degrees for 6-9 minutes (lay them flat and shake them about halfway) or oven bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Watch them at the 10-12 minute mark to ensure they don’t burn.
- Sweet Potato Ice Cream. If you can find purple sweet potato, then use that version as it’s the sweetest of the sweet potatoes. But if you only have the good old orange sweet potato this recipe still works great. In that case, I would recommend that you add a couple extra tablespoons of maple syrup or honey to the recipe below.
- Ingredients: 2 cups of cooked mashed sweet potato. 2 cups of milk of your choice. ¼ cup of maple syrup or honey. 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. A dash of salt. Blend all of it until smooth. Pour into an ice cube tray and let freeze for at least 8 hours. Before you serve it, place the cubs into a blender and blend again. It will be thick so you’ll have to use a spatula to bring down the now-forming ice cream stuck to the sides of the blender. Serve immediately!
2. Red Lentil Wraps (2-3 ingredients)
If you know how to cook a pancake, then this recipe is even easier. These wraps can be eaten like crepes (dress it up) or you can use it as a vehicle for a sandwich wrap. Here’s how to make this nutritious and tasty dish.
- Get half a cup of red lentils (they need to be red. You can also use the yellow lentil variety but don’t use the green one).
- Place in a small bowl with 1 cup of water. Let it sit for at least an hour to as much as overnight.
- Put the whole thing in a blender and blend until smooth (about 30 or so seconds). Add a little salt. If you’re making a crepe-like dish, then you can add a touch of sugar or maple syrup here.
- Pour the batter onto a medium heat nonstick or lightly oiled pan. The batter will be thin but not to worry. Let it spread by rotating the pan. Wait until the top of the batter is dry (about a minute) and then turn. Let it cook for another 15 or so seconds. That’s literally it.
If you want to add a little bonus ingredient to supercharge the vitamins, then you can add a few pieces of frozen spinach during the blending process. Frozen spinach blends better.
3. Ants on a Log
You may have given these to your kids when they were 4 or 5. But trust me, Ants on a Log is still a relevant recipe to put in your toolbox because it tastes great, is portable, and is healthy. Here are some variations and tips for the celery, peanut butter, and raisin classic.
- If you’re making the classic ants on a log for your child’s school lunch, freeze them for at least a half-hour to an hour that morning. In that way, the celery will be firmer and the peanut butter won’t be all over the place by the time your child eats it. The coldness of the celery will also temper the sometimes “greeny” taste of the celery.
- Three great variations to fill the celery other than peanut butter: cream cheese, guacamole, or goat cheese.
- Three great variations to top the celery other than raisins (depending on what you put below it): dried cranberries (cream cheese or peanut butter), walnuts (goat cheese), avocado or bacon bits (guacamole).
- Two great drizzles to put over Ants on a Log: honey or maple syrup.
4. Cucumbers With Lemon Juice and Rock Salt
Cucumbers have a mild and often boring taste by themselves. But they don’t have to be this way. Here’s what you can do.
- Peel the cucumber. Cut lengthwise in half and scoop out the seeds. Use a couple of paper towels to remove the excess water from the cucumber. Cut into pieces your child can eat with his or her hands. Place in a bowl and cover with at least 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix the cucumbers with a fork or your hands to ensure that all the cucumbers are coated with lemon juice. Then sprinkle with some rock salt as you mix the cucumbers around. This goes well with some crusty buttered bread.
- If you want to make a truly tasty cucumber sandwich, then use the same method as above except dice the cucumber much smaller and use less salt. Toast some sandwich bread and spread one side with hummus or cream cheese. Sprinkle rather than spread cucumber on the hummus or cream cheese. Sprinkling will prevent you from putting too much cucumber on the sandwich. And voila you’re done.
- You can also use the same cucumber recipe minus the salt for tuna salad sandwiches.
5. Leafy Green Vegetable Smoothie
Leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But if you give a plate of spinach to your child, they’ll likely look at it and wonder what they did to deserve this. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can approach it like we do with the following question posed to your child – you can either eat a plate of vegetables or you can drink this tasty smoothie. Our children always go for the latter.
Leafy green vegetable shakes are a great way even for the pickiest of eaters to receive the amazing health benefits that leafy greens provide and in a manner that your child’s body can use immediately. Making a leafy green vegetable smoothie is easy but you have to follow these three keys. If you don’t, your child may never trust your smoothies again.
- With leafy green vegetables, less is more;
- Freeze your leafy greens as they will make it easier to blend and dull the taste of the greens; and
- Keep it simple.
At the outset, the mildest leafy green vegetable readily available at your supermarket is spinach. If you’re going to use kale, make sure you remove the stems otherwise your smoothie will be very bitter. I do not suggest using chard, collard greens, mustard greens, or other similar types of greens as those greens have a sharp flavor that your children are probably not ready for.
Here’s our go-to recipe:
- 1 – 1.5 cups water, milk, or plain kefir (or a mixture)
- A handful of spinach or kale (1 cup max – start with less until your child gets used to it. You can slowly, and the operative word is slowly, move your way up past 1 cup to a 2 cup maximum)
- 1 cup blueberries
- ¼ cup rolled oats
- Handful of ice
Blend until smooth.
Thank you for stopping by. Please let us know if you tried any of these recipes!