OK, maybe not force them down, I mean, it's not like you can hold the kid down and shove food down his throat. Let's be a little nicer than that to our kids and use some of these creative ways to make vegetables not only taste great, but to teach kids that they're good for snacking on and a good, healthy option for any meal throughout the day.
Plant A Garden
Let your kids be involved in the cooking process, or at least the preparation, by planting a garden in your backyard with them.
Teach them all about how to plant vegetable seeds and take care of them so that they grow big and healthy. Then take your kids out with you to pick the vegetables, let them help you wash them and even let them watch as you (carefully) cut them up to use for cooking.
Letting your kids be this involved in what you're putting on the table for dinner will get them excited to eat the things that they worked so hard to grow. They'll love going out to pick the vegetables (it's really fun for kids for whatever reason) and then when they go to eat them, they'll know they're eating something that they grew.
It's a great environmental lesson, too, and chances are, your kids will be hooked on gardening their own veggies before you know it!
Try Raw Veggies
Before you get too fancy with cooking your vegetables that your kids refuse to eat, have you ever tried to give them just raw, cut up veggies?
Give it a shot. Your kids might like getting to pick the veggies up with their fingers, dip them in some ranch dressing and enjoy them. There's something about finger foods that all children like, and sometimes kids really do like raw vegetables better than ones that have been cooked and doused in different dressings and cooking oils and spices.
By letting them dip their own raw vegetables, they're choosing what their own vegetables taste like based on how much dip they put on them (if you're concerned about your kids' health or weight, try a fat-free ranch dip or even a yummy Italian dressing). They may just like this approach better.
Try Sweet Veggies
Some kids just flat out don't like green vegetables. That's not really a bad thing, as long as they're able to get that source of nutrients from other vegetables. Try sweeter vegetables.
Carrots can easily be cooked in a little drop of olive oil and sprinkled with cinnamon for a sweet, healthy side dish or even as a snack. Or try the same with sweet potatoes or yams – mash them up as if they're regular potatoes and serve them with some brown sugar and cinnamon. Yummy!
Kids often have much sweeter taste buds than adults, so take note of that and try adjusting your recipes as such. Even if it's sweet, it's still a vegetable dish, and if your kids are happy eating it, keep making it!
Keep Veggies In the House At All Times
If there are always fresh vegetables lying around to snack on all the time, your kids will get used to that being their option for snacks. Try to keep junk foods out of your house and make vegetables the only option that's available all the time for your kids to eat as much of as they want.
They'll get used to the taste eventually. Make sure you always have some healthy dressings or dips available, too, and explain to your kids that if they're hungry, they're allowed to eat vegetables any time of the day, but if they want a different snack, they have to wait until after lunch or after dinner.
Try also to set a good example for your kids by eating a lot of veggies yourself. It can be hard for some adults, too, but if your kids see you eating raw vegetables all the time, they'll want to be just like you!
Hide Veggies in Other Foods
When all else fails, if your child still won't eat vegetables, try hiding them in other foods that you know your kids love.
Disguising veggies isn't exactly a sin, and your kids probably won't even notice that they're there. You can try mixing some vegetables into scrambled eggs in the morning, or a family favorite is always the veggie-loaded meatloaf or casserole.
It's also fairly easy to disguise fresh tomatoes in pasta sauce. Just make sure the chunks aren't too large, as your kids will probably be able to notice these and may choose to pick around them. Dice up whatever vegetables you're adding very finely so your kids can't remove them easily.
Ann Michaels is a freelance writer who loves to garden. She grows just about every vegetable you can think of right in her own home garden – which is decked out with her favorite decorations like dog garden statues and butterfly windmills.