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JasonsMom08's avatar

Creative Ideas for getting my toddler to eat vegetables?

Asked by JasonsMom08 (441points) March 1st, 2010

My son is about 18 months old and is a pretty good eater. However, I would like to incorporate some vegetables into his diet. Standalone green veggies are always turned down. He likes pasta but a boy cannot live on ravioli and penne alone.

Does anyone have any good recipes that I could try? Thanks in advance!

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24 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Here is the airplane and here is the hangar doesn’t work?

Ltryptophan's avatar

One time I put a pea in my nephews straw when he wasn’t looking.

sdeutsch's avatar

Put them in pancakes! When I was little, I would eat anything as long as it was in pancake form, so my mom came up with all sorts of new recipes – corn fritters, zucchini fritters, carrot fritters, etc. Basically, any veggie that you can grate or chop into small pieces can be hidden in a pancake – they’re really yummy!

If you’re i nterested, I can rustle up my mom’s corn fritter recipe for you – you can substitute just a bout any veggie for the corn, so it’s extremely versatile…

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Blend them in with marinara sauce?

janbb's avatar

I have a 26 year old who has lived on carbohydrates and meats for 26 years. As a toddler, he spat out fruits and vegetables; he’s not that crass now but….

simpleD's avatar

Don’t give up. Offer a variety of different veggies at every meal. Leave a few pieces on his tray and don’t force him to take them. If you make a big deal out of it then he might put up a fuss just to get a reaction out of you. On his own, he’ll get curious and eventually try to taste them. Frozen mixed veggies are colorful and easy to pick up with fingers.

mrrich724's avatar

I always wondered if telling a toddler he can’t eat vegetables, and only giving it to him for “dessert” would make him want it more, LOL

I’m serious though . . .

cockswain's avatar

I hate to sound mean, but early on I would just not let my daughter have anything else except the food on her plate. If she didn’t eat the veggies, I put the plate in the fridge until later. If she wanted to eat, she had to finish that. She’s almost twelve now, and has no problem trying tripe or octopus. I won’t try tripe.

thriftymaid's avatar

Funny to me because my kids loved the vegetables but would not eat meat. Veggies would be easy to blend and add to anything.

gemiwing's avatar

Most children don’t like green leafy vegetables because they are bitter. They’re not bitter to us older people because our taste buds have changed. When cooking try to combat the bitter flavor of them.

I’m also a big fan of hiding veggies in other foods. Pureeing squash and using it in soups, sauces and breads works well. Carrots are wonderful for this as well. Spinach can work but it is a bit trickier because of its bitter flavor- try adding vinegar.

For brussels sprouts, cook them with applesauce and it will eliminate the bitter flavor. Skip the butter on the sprouts, btw.

Give them something they can make. Vegetables that are thinly sliced, cubed, or cut into ‘fun’ shapes can go over well when used to make mini pizzas. They get to put their choice of toppings on the pizza- then you cook it.

fireflys's avatar

puree the vegetables and mix it in with mash potatoes. Cauliflower hides well due to the color. But you can add carrots, broc, squash, yams. It’s usually the texture of the veggies that turn kids off. A juicer is good too for tomatoes, carrots, celery.

Buttonstc's avatar

There’s a really great book out called “Deceptively Delicious” which has tons of recipes, tips and tricks.

Many of the recipes are very specific and combine the purses into all sorts of things you wouldn’t think of.

Very clever, well thought out and well worth the price of the book. This is how she actually feeds her kids.

But in addition to the purees, she also offers fresh veggies as snacks and with each meal. It’s just that it relieves the pressure of having to try to cajole them constantly. They are presented as a normal part of everyday eating without tension or coercion.

snowberry's avatar

It helps to give the food cool names, and come up with stories about the food. If you can set it up where they have to eat to get to the next part of the story it’s even better.

My mother used to feed me “green ice cubes” (Frozen Peas). And I fed my grandchildren little trees (broccoli). My granddaughter added to the story. She called cauliflower little trees in winter, and broccoli little trees in summer. She made a big deal about shaking all the little birds and squirrels out of them before she ate them. We also used to dip them in Ranch dressing and she’d hold them up and say they had a coat of snow on top.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, I used to put a very small portion on his plate (larger as he got older). I told him that if he complained he was going to get more. I never forced him to eat anything—I just said “It’s all right, eat what you can.” I loved my vegetables and didn’t have to pretend to enjoy them. He ate his all up and grew up to be a healthy-eating part-time vegan.

Toastlovingcat's avatar

Tell the kid that if he eats it he will get to be super strong or something like that

mponochie's avatar

Don’t force him, just keep offering them and letting him see you eat plenty of veggies. According to my Pediatrician, toddlers generally favor one food for a while, he’ll come around a lot quicker if he doesn’t feel pressured…otherwise it could become a control thing and toddlers have so little control the exert what little they have once they realize.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Coating the vegetables in breadcrumbs when baking or frying could make them delicious.
Breaded vegetables might also be available in most stores. They are especially aimed at little eaters!

simpleD's avatar

Hiding vegetables or masking their flavor in breadcrumbs, salt, butter, or oil might get them into your child’s belly, but doesn’t help a child learn to love them for what they are – naturally delicious, nutritious and low-cal. It only emphasizes that they are yucky and should be avoided. As @Jeruba, @mponochie and others have said, the best way is to put them on your toddler’s tray and let him choose to eat them after seeing you eat them on a regular basis.

snowberry's avatar

I agree. And if they see you eating ‘em with gusto, the better off you both are.

Kids love to mimic us oldsters. If we showed we valued eating veggies as much as we value a lot of our other activities, there should be no problem with the kids eating veggies.

Cannelle's avatar

Have you tried Annabel Karmel’s recipes ( Her books are very popular in the UK with new parents, to help put some fun in food and help children discover healthy food.
Presenting food in a fun way could help (making faces with it) or adding dips that your child can dip his food into (houmous with carrots for example). Simply because it becomes more fun. When they get a bit bigger, involving them in food preparation is also a good trick to get them more interested.
Ultimately, children are like us, they like and dislike certain things and I do think that their taste develops over time to incorporate a broad range of ingredients. Meanwhile, it’s probably not a bad idea to blend / conceal veggies in the food you prepare so that they at least develop a taste for it before developing an affinity with the way veggies look…

sdeutsch's avatar

I absolutely agree that kids should learn to like veggies for what they are – but there’s no harm in also hiding some in their other food, so that they’re still getting their veggies even if it takes them a while to decide to eat them on their own. Extra veggies never hurt!

downtide's avatar

Blend mashed veg with mashed potato. When my daughter was little she had orange mash, yellow mash, green mash. It was a buit easier with her though, because she actually liked some veg raw. Carrot sticks dipped in cream cheese was a particular favourite.

Buttonstc's avatar

I agree completely. And that’s what I liked most about the book I mentioned.

She uses both approaches together. The hiding the purees in recipes is like nutritional insurance so that one doesn’t have anxiety over whether the kids are getting enough veggies on a day to day basis.

Plus some of those recipes are pretty ingenious. She even has a recipe for brownies which contains spinach purée :)

Lydia Bastianich is a chef/owner of several top rated Italian Restaurants who also has a regular cooking show on PBS.

She sometimes has her young grandkids on helping her in the food prep and also picking from the garden. She’s a strong advocate of involving kids in every aspect of food.

I like her relaxed attitude about everything. She just advises to basically present children with a wide array of food options encouraging them to try everything once.

debs's avatar

Garden together or visit a farm together this summer? Doesn’t work for every kid; my nephew has always liked gardening and hated vegetables. But it’s hard to resist a tiny, very sweet summer carrot, pea or cherry tomato fresh from a garden or farm.

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