Tricking your kids into eating healthy foods

by Rae

Let’s face it: manipulating toddlers into eating healthy foods is a huge part of parenthood. Eventually you have to con your kid into eating something other than frozen waffles and yogurt for every single meal. I’ve tried and failed at several “healthy toddler muffin” baking projects and frankly, who has time for that? Here are some quick things you can throw into the rotation.

“Purple Juice” (Smoothies): A fruit/veggie smoothie is a perfect way to hide vegetables. It makes a great breakfast so you don’t have to worry if they just eat granola bars for the rest of the day! I add: yogurt, spinach, banana, frozen berries (to make it purple of course), peanut butter, and almond milk.

“Green Chips” (Roasted Seaweed): I know you think this sounds crazy but it just might work for you, too! The roasted seaweed from Costco has a crunchy chip like texture and not an overwhelming flavor. I slice them into thin strips with a pizza cutter and voila! Super food for snack!

Cucumber sticks: Peel a cucumber and an apple and cut them into sticks. Mix them up! Dip in peanut butter or hummus.

Scrambled Zucchini: Throw a peeled zucchini in the chopper. (Peeling is important if your child can spot a tiny green dot in anything and refuse to eat it as if it is contaminated.) Saute for a few minutes in a pan to soften, then add in some scrambled eggs. Sprinkle a little cheese on top and they will never know.

Other helpful techniques:
-Fun names! We call broccoli “baby trees” and peas “green circles”.
-Strength in numbers. I’ve noticed Grace is much more likely to try things in a group setting when everyone else is eating it. It’s more effective than Mom and Dad dramatically talking about how delicious everything is EVERY night at dinner. She doesn’t buy it.
-Let them “cook”. Let them wash and dry the produce or stir something. It doesn’t have to be big, just some participation they can be proud of. Grace will always at least try something she “cooked”. Full disclosure: sometimes I just give her similar ingredients, bowls, and utensils for her to “cook” while I’m cooking. Most of the time, this is secretly discarded later.
-Positive reinforcement (aka bribery). I use small things like blueberries to reward bites of new things.

I want to try some Popsicles this summer with hidden veggies. Has anyone made some good ones? Please share!

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