How can parents encourage children to eat vegetables?

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Vegetables and kids have always been a very difficult combination to get by. No matter, how much and in how many ways you try, most kids detest the sight of vegetables and more so, green/ leafy ones.

Being a six-year-old mom, I would say, I seen through many negotiations and tantrums only to fall flat on my face, in an attempt to feed my little one the “mighty vegetables”.  Until one fine day, I sat myself down and thought about – how can I make vegetables interesting? I am not the only mom struggling with this issue and there must be ways beyond pureeing them all up (btw pureed veggies suck! )? I started reading food blogs, spoke to my mum and just simply tried making food from my perspective as if I would have to eat it and there on – ideation and innovation in cooking for my bub came very easy.

Read Also: Milk intolerance in babies

A few things to keep in mind, while trying to feed your kids vegetables:

  • A little effort while plating the food goes a long way, make the plate visually appealing for the child – if it looks interesting the kid will be more than willing to eat. Look up a plethora of ideas on Pinterest.
  • Know your child’s pallet, there would always be a few vegetables that your kid doesn’t like, which is okay. Focus on what he/ she likes very much or even moderately.
  • Make dinner time sacrosanct, without any distractions of screen time or playing while eating. Mealtime should have more of conversation, so the child focuses on eating and gets to know the taste of food, this way they will remember what they ate.
  • Give colour to the pallet to make it look interesting. In Indian cooking, we tend to use turmeric which makes the whole dish yellow, ditch this spice occasionally and cook with natural veggie colours.
  • Don’t give up too soon.

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Here are some dishes’ that you may want to give a go.

  1. Green Idly/ poori or parantha – Puree the spinach and add to the idly batter or dough.
  2. Pink Idly or parantha – Boil and puree beetroot to give the batter or dough a nice pink colour.
  3. Vegetable Spaghetti – follow the usual recipe, but add other sautéed, pureed veggies to the tomato pasta sauce.
  4. Baked veggies with cheese – Sautee the veggies with some garlic, salt and little pepper, transfer to the baking dish, top it up with little milk and lots of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes and voila.
  5. Salad, salad and more salad – kids generally love cucumber, tomatoes and carrot. Add them to your daily meals in case you are dealing with fussy eaters.
  6. Tamatar malai ki sabzi – crack little jeera in ghee. Sautee tomatoes with little salt and a tiny pinch of red chilli powder, add malai and cook for 30 seconds. Serve with hot parantha.
  7. Drumstick Daal – Boil drumsticks with the good old arhar/ toor dal, add tamarind water and simmer for five minutes. Serve with rice. The mildly tangy flavour is loved by kids and drumsticks – very nutritious.
  8. Ghiya ka parantha – Grate ghiya/ lauki with your choice of spices while making parantha dough, these go very well with dahi and makes for a wholesome breakfast.
  9. Matar wali daal – Boil green peas/ matar and fry them with onion tomato tadka. Add this to your choice of boiled daal and serve with hot roti or rice.
  10. Vegetable cutlets, soups, pot meals, vegetable pulao with grated veggies are some of the other options.

Read Also: Superfoods for baby’s brain development

Lastly, each kid has his/ her own liking in food and that’s fine, don’t be a pushy mom trying hard to feed your kid everything – there will be good eating days and there will be bad eating days. Trust me, when they grow up and become more social, they themselves would want to try a variety of food. As parents what we need to ensure is that we are feeding them, fresh, healthy and natural. That said, to feed the kids veggies, don’t make cooking separate meals for kids a habit. Slowly and gradually move towards having common dishes or meals, so they understand that the value of food on the table and have a feeling of gratefulness. Training your kids to be flexible and roll with things – including food – is a key life skill.

So, happy cooking and happy trying!

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