How one resourceful mom gets her kids to eat vegetables

Abigail Sharpe's veggie appetizers

Kids munch on a plate of fresh vegetables as dinner appetizers at Abigail's house

I used to think my little boy was going to love vegetables, but I’ve watched in dismay as he has rejected more and more veggies over the last few months. Today’s guest post is from Abigail Sharpe, a writer and mom who’s got it figured out in her house. I can’t wait to try some of her techniques! Here Abigail shares what works to get her kids eating vegetables.

And while we’re on the topic, be sure to drop by Abigail’s blog at ChickletsintheKitchen.com to see our post there with a recipe to help make spinach yummy for your kids.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to let us know in the comments how you handle this common issue with your kids, too. Take it away, Abigail…

All it took was a little resistance.  From me.

I had the avocado on my plate.  I did not give any to my kids.  And they noticed.

“What’s that, Mommy?”

“Avocado.”

“We want to try some!”

I shook my head with regret.  “I don’t think you guys are ready for avocado yet.”

“We are!  We are!  We’re ready!”

I sighed and really thought about it.  “I just don’t know.”

“Please?”

Another great sigh.  “Fine.”

That was five years ago.  Now avocados never last long in my house.

I’m not the type of Mom who sneaks veggies, like pureed beats or baby food peas, into her kids’ foods to give them extra nutrients.  For one, I don’t have the time to prepare them.  Two, I want them to appreciate vegetables for what they are, not what they can be.  Kudos to you if you do it; it’s just not for me.  (Although I do admit sometimes I put grated zucchini in chili or hamburgers.  Sometimes.)

So what do I do to get the kids to eat healthy foods?  I make them a part of the choice.  This means when going to the grocery store, if they want to try a fruit or vegetable, we buy it.  I’ll plunk down a couple of healthy eating recipe books and let them choose something for dinner.  And even though it takes me twice as long to prepare dinner when I do this, I let them “help” me cook.  If they are part of the process, they’re more likely to eat it.

I know y’all have heard all this before.  And it takes planning.  This is not something we do on a day where we don’t get home until after 5pm and there are things to do that night.  Then I cook solo.

I do want to share one more trick with fresh vegetables.  I cut them up into slices and put them on the table before dinner as appetizers.  I don’t tell them they’re there, but if they come into the kitchen, they get all excited.  My kids love to eat before dinner – it’s like they’re breaking a rule – and they’re filling up on something that I’d be serving with dinner anyway.  Our favorites are cucumber and red pepper.

One night I made a recipe that called for celery, so I put some celery sticks on the appetizer plate.  The last time the kids had celery, they didn’t like it, so I expected the cucumbers to disappear but the sticks remain.  To my surprise, they ate it!  Trying something new without pressure can also help develop their taste for vegetables.

Abigail Sharpe

Abigail Sharpe, today's guest blogger

So what do you do to get your kids to eat right?  And any fresh vegetable recipes you want to share with me?  I’m always on the look out for something new.

Abigail Sharpe is an aspiring romance novelist living in North Central Florida.  Activities in her house seem to center around the kitchen, so she and her friends blog about recipes and family at chickletsinthekitchen.com.  You can also find her at abigailsharpe.com.  Happy eating!

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Comments (10)

  1. Abigail Sharpe

    Lisa, thanks for letting me come here today and talk about veggies! 🙂

  2. Lisa Banks

    Abigail, it was a pleasure! I too want Rohan to grow up appreciating veggies, but most common methods seem to recommend hiding them in other food. I’m so glad to hear of your approach, as this makes so much sense. Kudos to you!

  3. Tania

    My daughter was always pretty good with veggies until recently. She’s been going through an anti-eating phase. So I’m hoping it’ll just pass an shell go right back to her love of Vegetables pretty soon

  4. Lis'Anne Harris

    Hey Abigail!

    I was totally surprised to find your boys love plain old cucumbers and raw red bell peppers! I wish I’d thought of your technique when my boys were little. They’re grown now and have come to appreciate some vegetables…some of the time. I just keep hoping the older they get, the more they’ll add to their diet.

    Wait a minute…*sneaky grin*…I’m going to start making a veggie appetizer plate, too! I’m sure they’ll nibble while waiting for supper to get done. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  5. Jessica B.

    Hi Abigail,
    I love the idea of having a veggie appetizer plate ready to go before meal time. I have always said I would eat more fruits and veggies if I had them cut up for me each day. With a new baby, it is hard to find the time to cut them up. When my son gets older, I will definitely use this idea to introduce new fresh foods. I’m sure he’ll think it will be fun to eat before dinner!

  6. Abigail Sharpe

    Thanks for commenting, ladies! Tania, I hope it’s just a phase. Heh – do what I did with the avocado and maybe she’ll want some just because you’re not letting her have any.

    Lis’Anne, let me know how it works out.

    Jessica, I know what you mean. Even though baby carrots are SO MUCH MORE than whole ones, they are ready to go when you’re ready to eat! Thankfully my kids are older so I have more time to be healthy.

  7. Jessica B.

    I love baby carrots too! I wish the already cut vegetables in the trays weren’t so expensive. I just need to take the time after my little one goes to bed to cut up the veggies.

  8. allen

    Our kids love to eat raw cucumbers and peppers two. A bag of each only lasts a few days. Daily smoothies are also a good way to get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. Kale, Pineapple, and a whole orange (aka “Green Juice”) is one of our favorites.

    • Lisa

      Hi Allen, thanks for the smoothie tip! Come to think of it, my son gets a kick out of the Naked brand juice smoothies. With a name like that, who could resist? Mmmm, liquid carrots…

  9. Abigail Sharpe

    …I don’t know if I could drink something that green. Hmmm. What’s the ratio of kale to pineapple?

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