I had placed the box of vegetables from the market on the kitchen floor when my son, Jackson, who was two years old at the time, picked a giant red pepper and bit into it like an apple.
My first instinct was, “He is going to waste that, I better get it.” But then I figured if he was eating a vegetable – I wasn’t going to interrupt, nor complain about how he was eating it! Besides, when he tired of it, I could just slice up the parts he hadn’t eaten and use them with dinner. But to my surprise, my two year-old went on to eat most of the sweet pepper!
Ever since then, my kids have chomped into peppers like apples and eaten cucumbers whole. Sure, I slice them for them too. But if they want to grab a whole vegetable and start eating – who am I to get in between my children and a fresh vegetable?
When we were at Cascadian Farm last month, Jackson picked a pepper and started chomping away. One of the PR team members was surprised, and remarked that she had never seen someone eat a pepper whole.
It got me thinking about veggies and some ways to make eating vegetables MORE FUN for kids!
1. Hand it over whole – I remember eating carrots like Bugs Bunny when I was a kid, the green tail swinging while I did my best Bugs impression. My kids also love the freedom of eating their veggies whole. From peppers, to cucumbers, to carrots – skip the slicing and hand ‘em over whole! (And if your kids don’t finish the entire thing – no worries, you can take over. I bet you could use the extra veggies too.)
2. Cut it cookie style – Grab some small cookie cutters and cut peppers into fun shapes. Just cut the pepper in half or thirds to get the pepper flat enough to cut into shapes. Kids will love making pepper cookies! (And you don’t have to worry about calories when eating the left over cookie scraps!)
3. Pick it fresh – Even if you don’t have room for a vegetable garden, you can have fun growing and picking your own tomatoes from pots. My kids are never more excited to eat a vegetable than when they have grown and picked it themselves!
4. Mix it up – Salads and salsas can be a great opportunity to let kids “make” their own food. To speed things up, you can pre-cut the produce and let your kids “build” their meal! Don’t forget that nuts, dried cranberries, and shredded cheese are great ways to spice up a salad and make it more kid-friendly. And if you are making salsa – try adding corn or mangos! Your kids will love the different colors and flavours.
5. Blend it in – If your kids aren’t buying it and they still wrinkle their noses at your veggie creations, you can always resort to pureeing vegetables and hiding them in their favorite foods. Your kids will never suspect that there is pureed cauliflower in their macaroni and cheese or pureed zucchini in their spaghetti sauce!
YOUR TURN: How do your kids eat their veggies? How have you made eating vegetables more “fun” for your children?
Photos by Janice Croze
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