Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kids And.....Veggies?

Can the two mix harmoniously? Yes, they can! 

You may think kids will always hate their veggies. But, has there ever been a time when you gave your baby veggie baby food (pureed carrots, for example) and they actually smacked it all down happily?  Or have you ever been delighted to find that your toddler was your nutrition pride and joy because they actually devoured those "little trees" (called steamed or even raw broccoli)?  And, my gosh, without even any cheese sauce! 

But then you might wonder, what went wrong? Somewhere along the way, the child started having a hankering for junk food (chips, candy, cake, etc.) and now the healthy veggies have taken a backseat for your youngster, or worse, the veggies are now the enemy at mealtimes.

We have to keep in mind that children (and adults) have been "spoiled" by the tastes of modern cuisine and food manufacturing, most of which is not good for us. The Dietary Guidelines for America for 2005 recommends that adults eat five servings of vegetables and five servings of fruit per day to prevent many kinds of disease and illness, and to maintain a proper body weight. Kids have their own guidelines:

Children 2-3 years old require roughly 2 servings of vegetables, 4-8 years old require about 3.
Girls ages 9-13 require about 4 servings, and young ladies 14-18 require 5. Boys ages 9-13 years need about 5 servings and older guys at 14-18 need about 6 servings of veggies per day.
(These servings are about 1/2 cup each. Information is from

How can we get all these veggies in? By teaching our kids how important (and tasty!) fruits and veggies can be, by eating them often in front of our kids, and by making them very available to them every day and digging up neat recipes involving all or mostly vegetables. Going meatless some of the time or even all the time is another heathy way to get all the servings in, as now there will be much more room for veggie and fruit in the diet.

Also, knowledge of the vast variety of veggies available is on the parent's side.  If asked, a child will usually finally say "yes," when asked which veggies they like. One child I know does not like cauliflower and snap peas but loves cucumbers. Another child does not like brussel sprouts but loves carrots and cherry tomatoes. If you dig, you shall find! Give your child lots of kudos for caring for their body and keep adding other veggies they like.

Below you see two children consuming a lunch dominated by veggies:  There's a cucumber and carrot crudite plate that was very easy to prepare with Drew's Orange Dressing in the center, Kashi Mediterranean Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza, and Imagine Portabello Mushroom Soup.

The kids really enjoyed this meal!

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