This post is sponsored through my partnership with Bitsy’s Brainfood.
We’ve always been thankful that for the most part, Liv is an adventurous eater. She loves things that I didn’t enjoy until my 20s (like quinoa, artichokes, pho, chia pudding, and green juices to name a few), and I’m glad that she’ll at least try anything, even if she decides she’s not a fan. Don’t get me wrong, as we definitely have our picky days over here, but I think as far of the grand scheme of things go, she’s a very good little eater.
Occasionally, my friends will ask me how I get her to eat vegetables. The thing is, I don’t really “get” her to do anything. I try to make the food delicious, and something I’d want to eat, and usually if that’s the case, she wants to eat it, too. Another way to get a preschooler to eat something: make it for yourself. They instantly want it haha.
Here are some of the things that I think have helped:
-Blend them into a smoothie or make a juice. Green smoothies are a huge hit over here, as well as juices. I try to favor the sweet side of flavor profiles and will add in some cucumber, spinach or kale to give it extra nutrition. I’ll also often add Udi’s oil, nut butter or coconut oil to Liv’s smoothies just to increase the fat content a bit.
One of Liv’s favorite green smoothies:
1 cup milk (whole or almond milk)
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 frozen banana
1 handful spinach
1 tablespoon almond butter
Cinnamon and a splash of vanilla
1 teaspoon Udi’s oil
1 teaspoon honey
-Add them to sauces, soups and pasta. Liv has been a soup fan since she was a baby, so if I know we’re slacking on veggies, soup will ALWAYS do the trick. This is her all-time favorite recipe! She’s also a big fan of tortilla soup, and I’ll add lots of avocado to hers. As far as sauces go, veggies are a great way to amp up traditional marinara or bolognese sauce. I’ll add carrots, onion, fennel, spinach and garlic to the food processor and sauté in oil before adding the rest of the sauce. If we have pasta, like if I make mac n’ cheese, I’ll add broccoli or another green to it.
Here’s the recipe for this veggie-packed turkey bolognese:
1 lb Italian turkey sausage
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
handful of spinach
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1/2 sweet onion
3 garlic cloves
Large can (28 oz) San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon oregano
Palmful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
Pinch of sugar
Splash of balsamic vinegar or red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In food processor, add the spinach, fennel, carrots, garlic, onion and celery. Pulse to chop and then add to a large pot, heated to medium heat. Add a good drizzle of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Saute until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
2. Add the turkey sausage and break up with the back of your spoon as it browns. Do the for about 10 minutes, until the sausage is fully cooked.
3. Reduce the heat to low and add the splash of balsamic or red wine.
4. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, season well with sea salt and pepper, and add the oregano and a pinch of sugar. Stir in the basil and use your spoon to break up the tomatoes.
5. Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes (longer is better) before adjusting the seasonings and serving over your favorite pasta or spiralized zucchini.
-Make fruit and veggie leather. One of the most amazing things about having a dehydrator is that you can take waning produce and turn it into fruit leather. Basically if you blend anything with banana and dehydrate it, it will make some type of fruit leather, and we’ve been having a lot of fun with the flavor combinations. I’ll do a banana-apple-strawberry puree and add a handful of spinach or kale.
-Cut them into fun shapes. I use the Pampered Chef mini cookie cutters to make shapes out of zucchini and cucumber for dipping. Somehow they’re more edible when they’re in a fun shape.
-Make something delicious to dip the veggies into. We like hummus, buffalo hummus, homemade guacamole, and Ranch dressing.
-Let them pick it out. Whenever we’re at the grocery store, if Liv says she wants something particular from the produce section, I’ll get it. I like her to feel like she has a say in what we eat, especially when it comes to fresh food.
-Season them well. I personally don’t like plain steamed veggies that much, so I can’t imagine that Liv would enjoy them, either. I find that roasting veggies (especially in coconut oil with garlic powder, sea salt and pepper) helps to bring out the flavor and increases the desirability.
-Make pizza or chips. We’ll add lots of veggies to our pizza toppings, and also make veggie chips with kale or zucchini.
-Don’t try to “trick” them. I think that children are extremely smart and intuitive; they often notice more far than they’re given credit for. I think it’s when we try to trick them that it can backfire. I try to be as honest as possible with Liv, and if there’s something new/weird/vegetable-related in the food I’m eating, I tell her exactly what it is. I think that by doing this, she has a better idea of what to expect and ends up surprising us with what she’ll choose to eat.
This is another reason why we’re huge fans of the Bitsy’s brand. They don’t try trick kids into eating vegetables, and endeavor to teach them how to make informed decisions about the foods they consume. The Bitsys’s snacks and cereals are fortified with healthy fats, are certified organic, and are a great option for a fun treat that is also healthy. They can be found at Target (check out the store locator here) and are now in the cookie aisle, which is HUGE. I’m hoping that consumers will see these lined up next to their favorite cookie brands and give them a try, because they’re a healthy option that tastes fantastic. Liv goes crazy for the cookies, and I’m a huge fan of the green gluten-free cereal.
What’s something you to help your kiddo enjoy making healthy choices? Favorite way to add veggies or extra greens into meals?
I like to enjoy hot dishes atop a bed of spinach or kale. The heat wilts it down a bit and adds a dose of nutrition:
This post is sponsored by Bitsy’s Brainfood. Thank you for supporting this blog and the companies who help to support our family.
More Bitsy’s posts:
Oatmeal cookie blueberry crumble
Getting kids involved in the kitchen