Cultivating Veggie Loving Kids

I can’t handle picky eaters. I just CANNOT. There are so many amazingly delicious dishes in the world and being picky forces you to miss out on SO MANY things. And for me, food is a big thing. I love it. Love it all. Like SO MUCH. 

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And honestly, I love a great veggie dish as much as a great dessert. Well, sometimes ;) 

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My boys, Sully especially, have pretty great palates for little dues. (Grady, now 4, has been sliding a litttttttle further down the picky spectrum for me these days, but he still eats tons of things most kids won’t touch - raw cabbage and peppers anyone?)

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few of the things that have worked for our family, and maybe they might work for you too!

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  1. Garden. I know this one can be hard to include in your already busy schedule, but y’all, seriously. This has been the BIGGEST factor in our kids loving veggies. And that’s even more evident to me when I look at Sully vs. Grady. The garden was much more present through Sully’s 7 years of life than Grady’s (although that changes this year ;). Getting your kids involved with picking out seeds and plants, digging, weeding, learning about what the plants need to grow, watching them grow into edible items - this stuff is MAGICAL for kids. Heck, it’s magical for adults too! And let’s face it, veggies you grow yourself taste 100x better than anything bought at a store. Even if you can’t swing a full fledged garden, pick up a cherry tomato plant for the back porch, or some hanging strawberry plants, or start a little potted herb or salad plant collection. It’ll be time well spent, I swear.
  2. Talk about the nutritional value of foods (ie. strength, immunity building, more energy to play, etc.) and how they affect your bodies. My boys are way into super heroes, and also CrossFit. These hobbies play into this plan brilliantly. “You know, that kale is really good for keeping your body healthy so you can fight off germs and keep playing!” or “That quinoa has tons of protein that will help your muscles grow big like daddy’s!” 
  3. Talk positively about food - all of it - even the ones you don’t like. Sam and I have made conscious efforts to avoid badmouthing foods whenever possible. He’s not a fan of avocados (I don’t know how I married such a sick man), but the boys LOVE them. Even if he doesn’t eat them himself, he downplays that action and refrains from talking about how disgusting they are (at least around them). Kids pick up on those cues.
  4. Be open minded yourself. Demonstrating a curious palate is super important with kiddos. I tend to experiment a lot in the kitchen, and even when Sam isn’t super sure about it, he goes with the flow and gives it a try, encouraging the boys to do the same. In the same vein, our boys like to pair…interesting…combinations sometimes. When Grady asked to have some grape jelly with his raw yellow peppers, or some olive oil-and-salted raw sweet potato chunks, and loved it, I played it cool. Trying new things is a good thing. If they spot a jicama in the store and you’ve never had one, check out Pinterest for a new recipe and give it a whirl!
  5. Offer different foods often, and repeatedly. Just keep at it. Don’t stop when they “don’t like it.” Kids often don’t know what they like yet. Just keep trying, and trying in presentations, and encouraging your kids to give it a shot. We find often that even though we thought we didn’t like something, a few weeks later if we give it another go, we might just love it! ;)
  6. Encourage kids to eat COLOR. Allllllll of them. Make it a game to see how many colors (ahem, real ones, not food coloring ;) they can eat each day.
  7. Start early. Humans are designed to eat vegetables and fruits and things of the earth. They don’t have a sweet tooth or a mac & cheese & chicken strips-only outlook from birth! They pick up on what’s around them, so give veggies a chance early!

Do you have a healthy eater? What tips have you picked up over the years? 

The best part about gardening is not only do you have veggie loving kids, but you get some pretty amazing moments and memories to treasure long after the harvest is eaten!