Ask a Cook: How to Get Your Family to Eat More Vegetables
The struggle is real. You know you're supposed to eat vegetables as part of a healthy diet—and maybe you already do—but how do you convince the rest of the family to climb aboard the veggie train?
To see how home cooks like you get it done in real life, we asked Allrecipes community members for their own tips and tricks to get their families to eat more vegetables. Check out their tried-and-true strategies, and see if there's something they do that might work for you, too.
How to Get Your Family to Eat More Vegetables
Bibi used reverse psychology. "To get my 4-year-old and my toddler to eat broccoli, at the dinner table I would say, "Oh, look at my beautiful trees!" I would pick up a piece of broccoli and hold it in my fingers with the stem down. Then I would say, "Oh, are you going to eat my trees? Oh, please don't eat my trees!" They would grin at me and eat them! I did this, until their habit was well established. To this day, they both love broccoli."
Veggies in Disguise
Ms. Chef Esh enlisted the help of her food processor, saying, "When my son was young, he refused to eat ANY vegetables. I had to get creative by mincing, carrots, celery, onions, peppers, spinach, and mushrooms into his favorite spaghetti sauce and meatballs. He never knew that he was actually eating his vegetables and enjoying them!"
Thedailygourmet took a similar approached and fooled 30 veggie-hating teens into eating spaghetti and meat sauce that was heavily laced with vegetables. She added, "You could say I won the battle!"
~*MyHotSouthernMess*~ has it good. "I guess I'm a lucky one with a family that likes most veggies." Even so, she gets a little shifty sometimes, saying, "I will sneak veggies in dishes, serve with a dip, and add to baked goods."
tcasa got her picky eater husband to try mini chick pea chocolate muffins by not telling him what was in them until he said (as he ate his third one) that "something was different about these muffins." She adds, "Now he asks 'is there a secret ingredient in these?' He's come a long way in the way he eats and views food."
Jacolyn has a tip about introducing new vegetables to an infant's diet one at a time: "Once a doctor clears an infant to start eating vegetables, I think it's very important for them to experience a broad variety of them and to eat the vegetables plain for a few months (without added fruit or butter or spices) so that the taste of vegetables is a normal part of a diet and doesn't always need to be at odds with other foods or need to be doctored greatly to be accepted. After a few months, new flavors can be added to the vegetables for even greater variety"
Grow It, Cook It
Diana71 uses a plant-to-plate strategy, teaching her kids to grow and harvest vegetables. "I had them pick out what they wanted to grow, nurture the plant in our community garden, donate at least 10% of the crop to the local food bank, track the donations in weight throughout the summer, and then pick out recipes to prepare the vegetable(s) we brought home." One year, her daughter nurtured a "runt" seedling with such care, it ended up growing the biggest pumpkins in the patch!
See It, Do It
Manda uses YouTube to pique her god-child's interest in food. She says, "One of her favorite channels is 'Kids Try Things' on YouTube so if she sees other kids trying it, generally she asks to try it too. This is a great way of getting her to try new food, including veggies!" Manda adds, "Show them the video, act like you're taking a video, make it a challenge, and have fun!"
Fire Up the Flavor
Just Add Cheese
Joey Joan says she's the one who doesn't like to eat her vegetables, "but anything made with cheese and I am all in."