We all know how important it is to encourage young children to make healthy eating habits early on, especially as fruits and vegetables are nutrient and antioxidant rich options which are essential for healthy growth and development.
With the cold weather still here it can be comforting for young children to sip on warm soup in the evenings. Vegetables can be the ‘base’ of a soup by pureeing them and seasoning them with some spices. Furthermore, it’s easy to add vegetables into both broth and cream based soups. By adding just a small amount of extra vegetables, you can increase your child’s intake of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
These can be easily made by inserting vegetables into a spiraliser to process them into a noodle shape. Commonly spiralisers are used for vegetables such as zucchinis, carrots and sweet potatoes and these veggie noodles can be combined with sauces and meat. Not only do they look fun and interesting, your child will likely enjoy how easy they are to eat.
This is a sneaky way to increase vegetable intake as their taste is concealed by the sauce. You can also try and puree certain vegetables and add seasonings to make a sauce on their own.
Smoothies are incredibly popular with young children and can make for a refreshing breakfast and even snack. Typically they are made by combining fruit with milk and ice in a blender; however vegetables can be added without any compromise to the flavour. Usually fresh leafy greens are common additions to smoothies, by adding just one cup of spinach to you can provide your child with their daily needs for vitamin A and vitamin K (1).
Many children enjoy eating omelettes for their breakfast and you can easily mix in vegetables for a unique and creative twist. Try folding a regular omelette around a spinach, onion and tomato filling as you are frying it. You can also try adding chopped bell peppers to enhance intake of vitamin A and vitamin C (2, 3).
Try placing cubed vegetables on a skewer and cooking them over a grill or barbeque. You can use most vegetables such as bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchinis, tomatoes and onions to veggie kebabs and make an excellent colourful side to any meal.
These are a delicious and nutritious way to make a more vegetable friendly diet for children who enjoy fast food. The burger patties can be made by combining vegetables with eggs, flour and seasoning. Sweet potatoes are often used to make veggie burger patties and are an excellent source of vitamin A and many other antioxidants (4).
Although tuna salads are traditionally made by blending tuna and mayonnaise, you can also add in chopped vegetables so that both the flavour and nutrient content are increased. Onions, carrots, cucumbers and spinach are often a common and well-received addition to tuna salads.
This dish is made by stuffing halved bell peppers with ingredients such as meat, beans, rice and seasonings and baking in the oven. Bell peppers are rich in vitamins and minerals (2, 3) but you could always enhance the nutrient content by adding in more chopped vegetables.
For more information on creative ways to make kids eat vegetables and other healthy foods, see our Childhood Nutrition and Obesity Prevention.