Look Mommy! It’s the Vegetable Truck!
Those are words that make a mother smile. I have spent the past several years wondering how I would ever get my daughter to eat vegetables. I know that many parents have the same concerns. Baby food is easy. Infants seem quite pleased to slurp green bean puree from little spoons. Then we move to table foods and often all is lost. I think that part of the issue is that we are influenced by things that are pre-made that we think we ought to feed our little ones. Very quickly everything starts to revolve around wheat and dairy products. Our children acquire the taste for these items early because they are quick, tasty, and portable. Then our children turn into demanding little toddlers who know what they want and express this in no uncertain terms. This is all supported by what they are fed at daycare or at the sitter’s house. Grandma loves to give treats too. Without even realizing it, your child is suddenly the king or queen of carbs, dairy, and maybe a little fruit. Faces are made at green things and their mouths become clamped shut at the sight of them.
As a physician who is also a parent I know the importance of offering the right foods. Green leafy vegetables are sources of wonderful nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K, folate, magnesium, and calcium to name a few. I have always preached about offering new foods over and over again, setting an example by eating vegetables, and not giving into becoming a short order chef. But, man oh man, it can be difficult, and I have by no means always done things right. I think there is a time in every parent’s life that they worry that their child will never willingly eat another green vegetable. This is especially bothersome as I learn more and more about the impact of nutrition on health.
Let’s face it; this isn’t all just about my child. It is also about me. I needed to increase the veggie intake in my own life. I finally stumbled upon a smoothie recipe that tasted like a green milkshake. It was pretty good. I started to drink one most days and would make a show out of how good it was until my daughter finally asked to try some. Guess what? She liked it. Suddenly my daughter was drinking kale on a regular basis. My heart soars when I see her slugging down a glass of green smoothie. I also feel better about myself when I drink one. Smoothies are satisfying and yummy to boot, plus you can blend and then drink it in the car on a busy day. You can also add (i.e. hide) other good things in smoothies such as probiotics. They easily get slurped right down with the rest.
The other thing that our family has done to generate interest in vegetables was to sign up for a produce delivery service. There are different variations of this throughCSAfarms and outfits such as Green B.E.A.N. Delivery. We signed up to receive a small produce bin weekly. My daughter now watches for the “broccoli guy” to show up and then we carry the bin into the kitchen and discover together what we received. She pulls out each item and can now name most of them. I remember watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution show when he went to an elementary school and the kids were not able to name any of the vegetables he showed them. I was horrified by that episode and want to make sure that the children I know have food literacy. The weekly produce schedule pushes my family to eat things in a timely manner, thus forcing us to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We also learn to eat new things that I would not think to pick up at the grocery store. It has been a wonderful experience for our family.
So, you can teach children (and yourself) to eat green veggies, but it might take some time and patience. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Make and drink a green smoothie daily.
- Talk about and name vegetables and fruits while at the grocery store.
- Be an example to your children- make sure you are eating your vegetables.
- For really finicky eaters consider some of the tricks from the “Sneaky Chef” books by Missy Chase Lupine.
- Talk about where food comes from and learn how to prepare fresh foods.
- Consider buying the book, “Green Smoothie Revolution” by Victoria Boutenko for more recipe ideas.
Go drink your vegetables!
1 cup sweetened vanilla almond milk
1 small banana
Juice from ½ of a lime
2-3 cups kale leaves (thick stems removed)
Blend and enjoy this thick and creamy treat!
Green Mango Madness
1 cup sweetened vanilla almond milk
2 -3 large handfuls of spinach
1 cup frozen mango
Blend and drink!
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