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5 Ways to Get Picky Eaters to Eat Their Vegetables

Updated on May 22, 2015

Tip #1 to Turn Picky Eaters into Healthy Eaters

Hide the veggies in all of their favorite fast food items. By cooking these guilty pleasures, you save time, money, and your family's health. Many of these items can be frozen ahead of time, so that when you are in a crunch, you don't have to fall back on the Drive-thru. This way you don't have to experience the mom guilt, and your kids won't be battling with you over this first world problem. See examples below:

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Who's Up For Burgers?

How about this for a plan? You choose the meat or bean--and the fixin's-- and I'll tell you how to hide the veggies. I know. Maybe you thought I was going to say leave them out in the open like this picture on the right, but you and I both know that the lettuce, tomato and pickle will be flung to the four winds faster than we can say, "Would you like fries with that?"

So here's what we'll do. Pick a fresh zucchini, squash, carrot and onion and pulverize them in the food processor. The vegetables will almost be the consistency of chunky baby food. Then grab an egg, your favorite bread crumbs and combine the whole thing. Then season to your family's taste. Teriyaki or BBQ sauce mixed with the raw meat are winners in my house. Then make your patties and slap them on the grill (or under your broiler). Voila! Your kids (and the pediatrician) will love you for it.

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No One Will Question Your Quesadillas

Yo quiero--what? Hush your mouth. Make them forget about all the other places with this quesadilla fix. Shred your carrots, onions and broccoli. Throw in a little shredded cauliflower if you dare. you want to make them the same consistency as your cheese shreds. Put the cheese to the side, and sauté the veggies until they are pretty soft. Then let them cool a bit. Mix the vegetables with the cheese. Put the mixture on the tortillas. Finally, fry them up like a Mexican grilled cheese sandwich. If you throw in some shredded chicken (or black beans), sour cream, and pico de gallo, you've got yourself a fiesta. Olé!

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Mystery Nuggets No More

Ever wonder what your kids are eating when they reach for their favorite nuggets? Worries be gone! You can know exactly what goes into the nuggets before the nuggets go into their mouths.

You may have tried making your own nuggets before with cuts of chicken. BUT have you ever hidden veggies inside the nuggets? I know. This plot seems nefarious in nature, but a mom's gotta do, what a mom's gotta do sometimes.

To do it, you will need to have your butcher grind the chicken breast meat--or you can buy prepackaged ground chicken. You are going to prepare a mixture similar to the burgers above. However, you want to get as much moisture out of the mixture by rolling your nugget-sized patties in seasoned bread crumbs before frying--pan, deep or oven. Hey, no mom guilt here. Yep, that's right, I'll let you choose how much grease you want to subject your family to. Try them with your favorite barbecue, honey mustard or ranch sauce.

Tip #2 to Turn Your Kids into Veggie Eaters

Despite what you may have heard, sugar (the right kinds) can be your friend. Here are some ways to throw your little ones off your healthy mom plot. These yummy treats will go down quickly, and they'll be none the wiser. Bwaa-ha-ha-ha. Yes, join in with me, and use your best sneaky mom laugh.

Oh So Smooth-ies

Smoothies are a classic way to get your kids to eat their vegetables. But there are so many styles and recipes out there, you really don't need one more. So I'm just going to share some tips that have worked for us.

  • choose a good frozen berry or two; strawberries are our favorite
  • choose a light, tasteless, or fairly sweet, vegetable like carrot shreds, cucumber, beet shreds or a nutrient dense lettuce
  • add vanilla yogurt OR peanut butter for protein
  • add fresh oranges, mangos (or their juice), OR almond milk as a base
  • If you blend all of these ingredients well, there should be no need for more sugar, but a little honey is always an option if your kiddos don't think it's sweet enough.

Below is a video, that includes more good tips for getting your kids to eat-- I mean drink--well.

eHow's Take on a Good Veggie Smoothie for Kids

Veggie Raisin Muffins

A great breakfast go to, muffins are a favorite in my house. You can use any of your favorite oat bran muffin recipes as a starting point. Add your shredded veggies, some raisins and nuts, and you're good to go. Don't have a base recipe? It's okay! Monique from Divas Can Cooks shares her approach to veggie muffins in the video below. The actual measurements are linked on her blog below the video.

Video Courtesy of Divas Can Cook!

Have Your Cake & Eat it, Too!

Vegetables in cake? It can be our yummy secret. From classics like Zucchini bread and Carrot Cake to show stoppers like rich Chocolate Beet cake, find a tummy tickler in the video below. Anna Olsen shows us some delightful techniques for incorporating vegetables into these decadent treats.

Video Courtesy Yummy Brioche

Tip #3 to Make Your Children Want to Healthy

Let them play with their food. That's right--it's okay to let their imaginations take off with each bite. Let the plane pull into that hanger or let the train chug, chug, chug into that station we call a mouth. But if you have older kids, you may want to try the food games below.

Rainbow Relay

The idea is to have a fruit or vegetable of at least four different colors on the plate for snack. For example: red strawberries, green grapes, yellow bell pepper slices and orange baby carrots. Then set the timer for 12 minutes. The parent calls out a color that is on the plate. Then the child locates, calls out the color, and eats it. If the child completes the relay in the designated time, he or she gets a special treat like an extra 15 minutes of screen time, a chance to stay up later, or a free pass for a chore of their choosing.

What is the hardest part about getting your finicky eaters to make healthy food choices?

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Sink or Swim

Most fruits and veggies float, right? Because they have a high water content, they will stay on the surface of many liquids like: water, juice, and punch. What if you and your child conduct an experiment where they have to eat all of the floaters, but let the stinking sinkers stay on the bottom? Food fun all the way.

Tip # 4 to Help Picky Eaters Make Healthy Food Choices

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Let them choose their own adventure.

Remember those old books where you got to choose which way the protagonist would go? It always seemed a bit more satisfying to have the reigns in my hands. It's the same way with your kids. Rarely do they get to choose what they are going to eat-- at least that's how it works in my house. So why not choose one night a week where they get to call the shots?

Whether you're up for Taco Tuesday, Fix Fab Pizza Friday or Salad Bar Saturday, let them make a decision from an array of brightly colored fare.

Tip #5 to Turn Finicky Eaters Into Healthy Eaters

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Get them involved. Cook with them or grow your own garden! Let your kids get their hands dirty by preparing some of their own food. Show them what goes into planning, planting, caretaking, and harvesting a crop. There are plenty of great ways to cook with kids. Gardening doesn't have to be a chore either. Some easy first time veggies and spices are tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, celer, cilantro, peppers and onions. With a harvest like this, homemade salsa is officially on the menu

So there you have it: five ways to get your children on the path to healthy eating. What are some of your tips? Share them in the comments below.

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