Last week, forty plus pre-schoolers peeled, sliced and chopped carrots and celery to accompany an easy hummus dip they prepared for Earth Day festivities at the montessori school where I teach healthy cooking classes. All of the children tried the hummus with carrots or celery, most of them liked it, and a few had seconds and more.
The school children’s success highlights a few key ingredients to successfully getting your children to eat their veggies:
(1) INVOLVE YOUR KIDS IN THE KITCHEN: It’s very simple, kids who cook in the kitchen eat in the kitchen. My five year old will eat a full plate of salad, but only when she washes, chops, and adds dressing to it first!
(2) EAT TOGETHER AS A COMMUNITY: The montessori children sit down as a group to eat. This gives the pickier children the advantage of watching the other children enjoy healthy foods, and often this positive peer pressure invokes them to try. The family table can work in much the same way. As one child really enjoys something other children will, over time, be more open to trying and liking those very same foods. In this way, the healthier members of the group, or family, are setting the example.
(3) SERVE ONE MEAL: If you are providing your children with different meals based on preferences, they will have no motivation to try new foods. Make it a rule to provide only one meal. If your child refuses, let them go to bed hungry (I promise, they won’t starve). Over time, they will learn to eat what is being served. And, you will have the added benefit of additional time to spend on other things.
(4) EMPHASIZE TRYING NEW FOODS: Forget what your parents taught you about cleaning our plates, the key is to get your children to taste a few bites of what’s being served. Trying foods will help them to develop a more sophisticated palate over time. Focusing on trying foods, rather than eating everything, also helps to take the battle out of meal-times.
If you’re interested in the hummus recipe we prepared, check it out on facebook (and remember to “like” me while you are there!): https://www.facebook.com/CulinaryTherapyOnline