Tell VT: How do you get picky kids to eat veggies?

By Vegetarian Times October 29, 2012

We want to know: How do you get picky kids to eat their veggies? Share your answer below and see what others have to say. Our favorite responses will be published in the January/February issue of Vegetarian Times.

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As simple as raising them vegetarian from the start, is it? As simple as this is what's for dinner they'll eat it as they're hungry and it's the only choice, is it? As simple as let them see you eat a variety of veggies, is it? As simple as involve them in food preparation, is it? Then explain my raised veg from birth daughter who happily gobbled anything we set before her till about age four then became one of the world's pickiest, quirkiest eaters. The child who demanded to try our chili at 6 months old and loved it but won't touch the same recipe now. The child who at five years old would choose to skip treats and go to bed hungry rather than touch what was served (movies, too, not just dessert, and often enough that we grew concerned about her consuming enough calories). The child who loves pesto but heaven help you if you serve anything else green. The child who will cheerfully cook a meal but refuse to touch it once it's on her plate. The child who complains that I'm not giving her choices after I sit down with her and upwards of a dozen cookbooks. Hide ingredients? Insert hysterical laughter here. It's absolutely insulting the way some of you assume we haven't tried these tactics and that your tactic of choice is foolproof. What's your advice for a child like mine?

M. - 2014-01-04 19:24:19

I always hate the judgmental posts.... just do this... well lucky you. I have 3 kids. I start them on veggies. They eat almost no meat. All 3 adore fruit, hate grains, and I have to turn eating veggies into a game. Even though they loved them as babies... once they were old enough for table food it was over. My eldest is now in her 20s, my youngest... 2. The 21 year old will now try and eat veggies, the 2 year old needs them hidden. Who cares how they get them in their body as long as it works and they get the nutrtients. In our house... anything goes.... their favorite thing though is green juice. All the micronutrients without looking like a vegetable.

Eileen - 2013-05-20 20:06:59

Kale smoothy! My 4 1/2 yr. old likes it! and gives Raw Kale to him. 1 cup Kale-washed 1/3 can pineapple 1 1/2 c. almond milk 1-2 ripe bananas...Blend all in a Vitamix or heavy duty mixer. Delicious!

Marsha - 2013-02-27 06:37:10

My daughter eats everything off my plate. If she watches me cut colorful veggies into different shapes, or smells them roasting in my cast iron pot, she will usually follow me to the table and pick out almost everything. Also, making a salad with sweet surprises will usually lure a picky kid to your plate. Candied nuts and dried fruit are favorites

Noelle Albanese-Levin - 2013-01-20 00:35:02

Please do not "hide" veggies in smoothies for your children. All it does is tell the child vegetables are a type of food that must be masked to be enjoyed. If you simply expose your child to what YOU eat - veggies, fruits, grains, whole wheat pasta, raw chick ease, sweets in moderation - they pick it up quickly. Just don't offer an unhealthy alternative - then, veggies and healthful foods will be the norm AND enjoyed.

Abigail S. - 2013-01-10 17:06:05

Wait until they're hungry and put out a plate of fresh cut veggies.

Amanda - 2013-01-05 15:40:41

I'm confused by this question. It assumes that veggies are bad tasting. Kids naturally love veggies and babies have to be taught to eat meat. My daughter never heard the message that veggies were something I had to 'get her to eat'. We just ate them, raw, cooked, anyway and anytime. I've been in daycare for years and have had only one kid who wouldn't eat veggies, and there were special circumstances there. Get rid of the food rules and stigmas and 'bob's yer uncle!'

Juli Norton - 2013-01-02 18:06:45

Juicing! Cucumber-Apple or beet juice are always favorites. A secret success? Sweet Potato-Carrot juice with just a dash of cinnamon!

Emma - 2012-12-31 23:57:01

cheese, cheese, cheese!!!! goes brilliantly with green stuff!

Stacey - 2012-12-18 01:37:36

Roasting! And make the veggies bite sized so they can pick them up. My kids will even eat carrots if I roast them with apples.

Amy Sandberg - 2012-12-04 18:57:52

Smoothies always win in our home! Both my vegetarian kids eat well, but one prefers smooth textures, so we always have the blender going. It is amazing what can end up in a smoothie.....kale, avocado, cucumber! And I never hide the fact that the veggies are in there, so my children grow up knowing they like the food itself and will be ready for it in any form as they get older.

Cris R - 2012-11-28 02:27:28

We put them in soup! Our little guy loves soup and we get him to eat lots of healthy veggies in soups.

Sara S. - 2012-11-22 15:03:57

I make burritos! My three year old son (and husband) will eat anything wrapped in a tortilla!

Carly Sarbak - 2012-11-21 13:06:25

Start as young as possible. I started my children with 'naked' fruits and mildly spiced veggies from a young age. My daughters birthday dinner request when she was 7, salad with pears & granola sprinkled in top& BBQ corn. 13 years later, still the same.

Juliana - 2012-11-21 12:17:32

My dear friend, Maggie Staley (now 88+), had the "go to" house where all the neighborhood kids came to play. She had her ways to make vegetables ever so desirable to kiddos. For years, she told them that veggies were very expensive, thus she only bought them for grownups who were old enough to appreciate the specialness of such delicious food. All the neighborhood kids would plead with Maggie for the opportunity to tase such special fare. They all went home with requests to their parents to "Please! Buy the kind of vegetables that Maggie does because they are so delicious!"

Patricia Keenan - 2012-11-21 08:43:55