Picky eating habits are very common among preschoolers; it’s a step to becoming independent, the USDA says. Normal or not, it can cause parents a lot of woe. Health and nutrition experts, like the National Council on Fitness and Strength tell us to feed kids more fresh, green vegetables. If junior won’t eat his veggies, the point becomes moot, however. Looking for ways to turn a fussy eater on to vegetables? Try these tips.
* Take a good look at your own eating habits. Do your turn your nose up at many vegetables? Though he may not always show it, your child trusts your instincts. If you avoid certain foods, he will too. If you want your children to start eating more vegetables, tend your own garden first.
* Take a fresh look, literally. Where is it written that vegetables must be cooked? Dr. Gourmet says veggies lose nutrients the moment they are harvested, but boiling vegetables and overcooking them depletes the most nutrients.
* Turn ho-hum vegetables into yum-yum. Steamed, baked or broiled are the healthiest cooking methods. If you cook vegetables, they should only be cooked until tender but still firm, Dr. Gourmet adds. Overcooked isn’t very appealing either. Boiled spinach looks like a wilted lump of sewage, but lightly sauteed or steamed, it turns brilliant emerald and tasty. Corn on the cob is tough and chewy when it’s cooked more than five minutes, but crisp and tasty when lightly steamed.
* Don’t throw the vitamins out with the bath water. Got confirmed Brussels sprout haters? Try roasting them in garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. These nutrition powerhouses retain their crunch and vitamin content better when roasted. They also attract more friends than their mushy, overcooked relations. Instead of boiling squash, zucchini or sweet potatoes, slice them and roasting at 400 degrees with a little honey, pineapple juice and olive oil. Rub potatoes in olive oil and bake them, too. Don’t peel potatoes for mashing. The vitamins are under the skin. My children don’t like mashed potatoes that have been peeled.
* Make veggies approachable and user-friendly. Cut veggies in manageable shapes and give them a fun name: Cucumber coins (slices), tomato boats (wedges), baby carrots, bite-sized broccoli crowns, zucchini fingers, carrot curls (thin slices), radish roses and celery fans. To make these last two, cut thin strips or slices halfway down. Soak in cold water to make them open up.