Tuesday, February 9, 2010

how to get your kids to eat broccoli, no really!

okay, may i please present the very first:
i think for the very first post, i'm going to talk about veggies. i have 3 young boys and veggies are by far, the trickiest things to get them to eat. but by sneaking a little into meals that they love, they'll get the nutrition and be none the wiser. i will warn that some of my suggestions will involve lying. if you can't outright make a teeny tiny white lie to your toddler about what they are eating, well then maybe this post isn't for you. i for one have no problem lying about the little things. "oh man. dang it! dora the explorer isn't on right now, sorry hon." has been said a few times around my house. "if you don't hurry up and get your shoes on, i will leave without you" has possibly been threatened as well.

but, i'm digressing. my point is that if you want your picky toddler to eat the things that are good for him, well sometimes you have to trick him. here are some tricks and tips that i use regularly with my kiddos and so far, they have been fool proof. 

my first choice is obviously to just have them EAT the veggie. and if the veggie of the meal is potatoes or corn (and sometimes peas), i usually have no problem. {luckily peanut eats absolutely anything, broccoli is his favorite food} but getting the older boys to eat anything else is like pulling teeth. this only leaves me a few options:
  1. force them to sit there until they eat their veggies which ultimately ends in at least one meltdown and sometimes it's mommy
  2. only feed them corn and potatoes
  3. lie about what they are eating. (we'll get to this in a minute)
  4. sneak the veggies into food that they WILL eat *ding!ding!ding!*
i sneak veggies in, well a lot of foods. and i'm sure if B reads this post he'll be like ''WHAT?!" but it's true. no one can tell the difference. the absolute easiest thing to sneak veggies into is hands down, spaghetti sauce. first off i will say that i without a doubt always buy Ragu ''Robusto" "Organic" or "Chunky" sauce. it's super cheap, often 10/$10.  and there is more than a full serving of veggies in just 1/2 cup of sauce and that's based on an adults caloric intake, so for kids it's slightly more! that's the first part, buy veggie loaded from the get go. will the kids always eat the chunks of veggies? no. but they are getting some and that's a start. 

so what to sneak? how about carrots or broccoli? easy-peasy. i actually discovered this when pooks was a baby but if you drop 2 cubes of pureed carrots {or one jar of stage 2 baby food carrots} into the sauce while it's simmering--no one will notice! no one. not even your husband. it really doesn't change the flavor, but they're in there! on the same note, i've even made the good ol' blue box mac and cheese and added a cube of pureed carrots. the kids ate it up and never even questioned that anything was different.broccoli is also fairly easy to sneak. while your spaghetti sauce is simmering, chop up some broccoli florets (fresh or frozen) and mince then up til they are tiny. (like the size of minced garlic) add the broccoli to the sauce and viola, your kid is eating broccoli! it's so tiny they don't see it or complain--in all honesty they probably don't even taste it!
other easy veggies to sneak are onions and celery because while they have flavor, if sauteed until slightly translucent, they are clear and hard for little eyes to spot. i saute onions and celery and then use it in homemade soups (both potato and chicken and noodle). you can also do this and then add spaghetti sauce.

the second and easiest way to sneak to veggies: buy juice that is both fruit and veggie. juicy juice has a "healthy harvest" juice that, in 8oz has a full serving of fruit AND a full serving of veggies. (the veggies are carrots and sweet potatoes) V8 also has a "V-Fusion" (veggies include carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets) 
which is the same concept but they offer more flavors. now 2 things to be prepared for if you buy these: first of all, they are kinda pricey...over $3 a bottle and it doesn't last long if you have more than one kiddo but it's worth it if you can't get veggies in any other way. and secondly, do NOT give them this juice and then sneak veggies in the same day. WAY TOO MUCH FIBER FOR LITTLE BUTTS. no joke, it will be an epic blowout. i never give my kids the full 8oz for fear of this happening again. 
also buying healthier versions of things they do like. instead of frozen french fries, try frozen sweet potato fries. rather than buying potato chips, try these veggie chips. 
(various brands, usually in the organic or "natural" section of the super market.)
and along those same lines are these "chips" by Frito-Lay called Flat Earth. they are delicious and addicting. and they are 1/2 serving of veggies in every once. i think we've tried every flavor and they rock. seriously addicting.

my last suggestion is, mix it up a bit and lie when needed. okay maybe not lie, but don't offer too much info. (and really this goes for ANY food question they may have.) for example when my mom makes fried rice she uses shredded carrots. shredded carrots look like shredded cheese. kids like cheese. so when your curious little 3 year old says ''is dis cheese?" well, just smile and nod. no joke my kids ate carrots for a long time thinking they were cheese because of this. bubba is now wiser and realizes that they are carrots but also knows that they are ''super yummy'' so he now eats them. shredded carrots = good. sometimes you just have to make veggies more appealing.
try it out and let me know what you think and how it works. until next week!


  1. Thanks for the advice shannon!! Thats some great info, I appreciate it since Aiden has become really picky with veggies! Do you give peanut the juices you were talking about?? Him and aiden are the same age, are they too young???

  2. Great tips, thanks! So, when are you going to do a live tutorial on how to make your website look cute? ;)

  3. Amber, I do let peanut have that juice but I dilute it. So his 8oz sippy cup I add about 3 oz of juice and 2 oz of water. The one time we gave him the juice undiluted, resulted in a blowout diaper.

    Heather, Thanks! I don't know how to do a live tutorial though, lol. I just do it. I use Corel PaintShop Pro and a lot of digi-scrap freebies.


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