By Genesis Davies
Healthy snacks are almost always refused by today’s savvy kids. I can’t tell you how many times, as a parent, I’ve wished my kids had never seen a cookie or tasted a soda, but there are ways to get kids to eat better.
Even if you aren’t a big fan of the “sneaky food” idea where you make cakes with carrots and zucchini, you can still get your kids to eat. Here are a few tips:
Make it for dip. Kids love dip. They might not be too impressed with veggies and dip (though you can try!) so you might want to try making the dip the healthy part. Mix yogurt or sour cream with pureed cooked carrots and a little liquid cheese for an orange dip, or blend one part cream cheese with two parts sour cream and then blend it with spinach and a little roasted garlic.
Add it to pizza. Pizza isn’t as unhealthy as most people think. In fact, you can make it something even healthier by adding a ton of veggies to it. A great way to do this is to have vegetables on hand, already sliced and ready to go. Then get your kids to help you make the pizza… it works best to create individual size pizzas. Ask them to choose three or four veggies to put on their pizza, or show them how to make faces with olive eyes, red pepper mouth, etc. This will get at least a few veggies on their pizza!
Make a three bite rule. In our house, you can’t say you don’t like something until you’ve tried it. Most kids will reject that first bite just out of principal, so why not make it a three bite rule? They don’t have to be big bites, just a little taste will do. If your child still doesn’t like the food, ask them to describe WHY they dislike it before allowing them to discontinue. For some, this won’t be worth it and they will just eat their food after all.
Respect their tastes. One woman I know let her children choose three foods they didn’t want to eat. They did this each week and she could see at a glance which foods, such as onions, had been on the list nearly permanently and allowed the children to skip those foods. It made for fewer mealtime battles and let her kids have some control over what they ate.
Repeat favorites. There’s no rule saying you have to give your kids a gazillion different greens. If your kids like a couple of fruits and vegetables, let them eat those over and over. Eventually they will expand their horizons and their taste buds.
The big thing is not to get into fights over healthy food. Kids go through stages and if you fight, you will not only turn mealtime into a war zone and possibly turn them off good food for a very long time, it’s not enjoyable for you, either. So, keep it low key, offer them variety and don’t stress out if your little children refuse to touch a leaf of green… just offer them something they will eat.
For some fun, kid-friendly recipes, check out Gourmet Mama. They offer a variety of quick meals, plus food your kids will actually eat!