How to Get Kids To Eat Vegetables with Fun Food Games - Kids Cook Monday
Teach Kids to Try Vegetables with Fun Food Games
One fun childhood experience about eating vegetables stands out in my mind--one that my three brothers and I enjoyed immensely whenever we had a certain meal. Mashed potatoes with brown gravy along with green beans were the key foods that made this meal fun to eat. The game my brothers and i created when we ate them was such a delight that I have no idea what we ate with them.
Our game dictated that we couldn't leave any mashed potatoes or green beans on our plates. Sometimes getting kids to eat vegetables may necessitate starting with games, and, in effect, their "playing" with their food, which some parents might not approve of. Hey, it's a start, that should in time lead to healthy eating habits that kids will keep up on their own.
Kids can also be empowered to take charge of their own health by encouraging them to help prepare and experiment with healthy foods, while having fun!
Kids can help prepare a number of fresh vegetables, particularly cold veggie snack trays with fresh veggies. Children will enjoy spooning in fillings for vegetables such as celery or mixing up dips in which they can douse their veggies.
Food Games with Hot Meals with Vegetables
So back to my own family fun. My siblings and I always looked forward to mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans in a meal. As I mentioned, whatever we had with them--meatloaf, perhaps? Fried chicken? Pork chops?--didn't really matter, because the fun was all in the potatoes and green beans.
With our mashed potatoes, we scooped out the middle in order to make a pond shape for our brown gravy. It was a perfect pond, like the ones we had out on our land on the farm. Our forks were thieves that would "walk" onto the plate into the "farm" in the middle of the night and take part of the potato "pond" away. Yes, we would take our bites that way, and, In our pretend morning, the farmer (a walking finger) would come back, saying, "What happened to my pond?" and would go back to bed. This would continue every "day" for the farmer" until his pond disappeared.
The green beans were logs that the farmer had stacked that kept disappearing. If we had corn, too, these would be rocks on the man's property. This food game was all about stuff disappearing off the farm--and disappear it did, right into our little stomachs.
Another idea is to use steamed broccoli. Broccoli is the perfect looking little tree. It can be held up by meatloaf or stuck into it. Play Farmer Brown (I think that's what we called him), and clear off the land and property. Chop down the trees (with children's teeth!) and dump the dirt (meatloaf?) into the cave (child's mouth). Timber! There also could be some rocks (green peas) that need to be moved out of the way. Start seeing kids plates as more than just items of food!
Many children will eat celery when it is served with something else. Stand up celery sticks in tubs of hummus (try homemade hummus), pimento cheese, or ranch dip. Have the kids help fill up the celery with any of these items--or peanut butter, too--and load up a plate. Just Ask Susan would remind us not to forget the Cheez Whiz, something her kids loved! Didn't we all?
The RealHousewife says that plain Philadelphia Cream cheese in the celery works with her kids. She sometimes changes it up and smashes up pineapple chunks with the cream cheese. She often adds black olives on the side. Yummy! Try different flavors of cream cheese, too!
Barbergirl28 fills celery with peanut butter and places raisins on top. She gets one of her kids to eat celery this way when she introduces these snacks as "ants on logs." Make sure you say this to the right kid, though, as barbergirl found that this was too gross of a title for another child, and it turned him away!
Vegetables and Cheese
My niece tells me that she always liked broccoli. But put some hot melted cheese on it, and even her little sister will eat it. Try it on steamed or fresh asparagus, too. You can easily make a cheese sauce without using a ton of fattening cheese. Try cheese sauce on different vegetables to get your kids interested, and perhaps one day they will even eat the veggies without the cheese!
Simply start with a roux as you would make with gravy. Put one or two tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add in equal amounts of flour. Add salt and pepper. Stir until flour starts to brown. Add a cup of milk. Heat. Cut up Velveeta type cheese or another cheese of your choice in small pieces and drop into the hot milk. Stir as cheese melts. You really don't need a lot of cheese when you make it this way. Add more cheese to make the cheese sauce cheesier or more milk to make it thinner.
Veggies with Dressing or Dips
Everything goes better with Ranch dressing, right? Well, that's what a lot of people say--adults and kids alike! If your kids are old enough, have them help chop up a tray full of your family's favorite vegetables. Baby carrots are a winner, as they are sweeter than their bigger counterpart. Try different colored bell peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, and broccoli. See what you can get your kids to eat when they douse their veggies in Ranch dressing or similar dips.
Little kids can pretend that their veggies go swimming in a bowl of Ranch dressing, and they (their mouths) need to clean them up by eating them. Try different dressings such as Italian or Thousand Island. Try different dips such as French Onion or Sour Cream and Onion.
Make a Game of Eating with Kids!
Playing with one's food is probably not a desirable trait to follow one throughout life. However, getting small children to learn to like vegetables is a challenge. Making trying vegetables and devouring them a fun experience can change a child's mindset and make eating veggies enjoyable.
Be creative. Serve plates of ponds and green beans, like my mom did. Set up broccoli trees near the ponds or even cherry tomato boulders.
For the kid who likes a little gore in his life, let him eat brains. Cauliflower sure looks like brains, and some kids would love this little game! And don't forget the ants on logs!
Consider giving a prize or extra privilege around the house for the child who comes up with the most creative way to use vegetables or the one who eats the most vegetables. Choose prizes appropriate to each child. Perhaps each one could win in a different category. In that way, everybody wins. They've taken in their nutrition, they've had fun, and they feel good about being rewarded.
Make Vegetables Look Fun: Make Funny Faces!
Fun with Dips: Let Kids Experiment!
Get Kids Involved!
Getting kids involved in preparing meals can help them to buy into eating more vegetables. Allow them to help put salads together, to fill up celery sticks, and to arrange cut veggies on a serving tray. Kids who participate in gardening will also eat many more veggies than do those kids who don't.
Keep trying, too, as kids do start eating vegetables the more times they see them on their plates. Be creative, and make eating veggies fun instead of a chore.
Thanks to the ladies I mentioned for sharing some of the secrets that have worked with their kids.
Check out the hubbers I've linked in the body of this article.
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