Eat Those Veggies: For the Young and the Picky

Since my youngest daughter will eat just about anything I put in front of her, I have quickly forgotten that I used to have much pickier eaters.  I am no expert in feeding my children.  My two oldest sons only ate vegetables if they were steamed and pureed until they were about two.  I remember begging friends for ideas, reading a few great books, and trying again and again and again…especially with the veggies.  Not that we always eat them now at ages 5, 4, 2, and 1 without incentives, but at least now they show me it is possible.

So if your little one(s) are refusing their fruits or veggies…there is hope if you are willing to go back to the blender!  

Here are a few ideas to try:

  1. Puree steamed broccoli, carrots, green beans, asparagus, spinach, peas, or corn…or any fruit.  Pour a few spoonfuls of the puree over cooked oatmeal, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta.  You can begin with just a small spoonful and increase the veggie portion as your little one becomes accustomed.  
  2. Another idea is to mix the puree (especially broccoli or spinach) with spaghetti sauce (or any sauce) and serve over pasta.  
  3. You can also mix a little of anything into a smoothie. (See Lindsey’s Sneaky Smoothie with Spinach.)
  4. You can slowly graduate your little one into eating bigger bites by blending the veggies on more coarse settings and even chopping them in a food processor.
  5. And don’t forget: just a spoonful of pureed veggies is better than no veggies at all!  Keep trying and stay positive…for the children’s sake. 🙂

A few GREAT books I have read on feeding children healthfully are:

Super Baby Food, by Ruth Yaron.  I read this one when my first son started eating solids.  She explains how to make and freeze any pureed fruit or vegetable in ice cube trays for convenience and freshness.  Ruth also has a wealth of ideas of how to add nutrition to your baby’s diet.  I love her creativity, although I must confess, I never tried mixing dried kelp in my baby’s oatmeal.  🙂

Deceptively Delicious, by Jessica Seinfeld.  Lots of great recipes to try with your kids in this one. Mine especially love the mac and cheese with pureed butternut squash and the grilled cheese with butternut squash or cauliflower puree.  The premise here is, to keep purees of many different fruits and veggies in your freezer in half-cup measurements, stored in ziplocks.  Then when a recipe calls for a puree, you defrost, and you are ready.  I may differ from Jessica in that I do want my kids to eat steamed broccoli for what it is…instead of always having to puree it and disguise it in a spaghetti sauce.  But these recipes are GREAT ways to add nutrition, especially for those pickier eaters!

SuperFoods for Babies and Children, by Annabel Karmel.  So many great ideas with awesome pictures showing how to make food enticing to babies and toddlers.  Annabel also has written many other fantastic books on this topic including: Top 100 Baby Purees, Top 100 Finger Foods, and Favorite Family Meals

One of my favorite quotes from my kids was when my oldest son was hanging on a bar swing for a long time in our backyard.  Gramma asked him how he got so strong.  My second son filled her in: “He’s been eating his bwockwee.”  

We all gotta have our bwockwee. 🙂

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