It's a question parents all over the world ask every day: "I try to feed my little one plenty of good stuff, but he freezes whenever he sees anything green on his plate! How can I persuade my toddler to eat veggies?"
First off, well done for putting healthy foods in front of your child — even if going green isn’t going so great for you right now, says nutritionist and dietitian Kelly of Kelly Jones Nutrition. Toddlers aren’t generally known for their willingness to try new foods, so it shouldn’t really surprise you that yours has no problem turning their nose up at green stuff when it comes to eating, even if they can't name their colours yet!!
The good news is, according to Kelly, that if your munchkin won’t munch on the green stuff, there's a whole rainbow of other colours in nature that are more appealing to our little ones. So, why not try...
Red: Red foods are amazing for providing antioxidants to prevent cell damage. The obvious one here is tomato sauce: why not try it as a spread for a whole-grain English-muffin pizza or as a dip? Then there's anti-oxidant packed watermelon, as well as raspberries and strawberries! Personally, I like freezing them chopped up to use in smoothies, freeze-dried as a snack, or in cereal. Don’t forget those red bell peppers, which can be sliced up and served with a healthy dip such as hummus. What little dude doesn’t love dunking his food?
Blue and purple: If vegetables are a hurdle for your child (I know they are for mine!), then why not offer them colourful fruits which often have the same health benefits? Fruits such as blackberries, plums and blueberries provide immune system boosters as well as the sweetness that makes them seem less "healthy" to a child. I recently discovered, in Chippenham's Morrisons, purple potatoes!
They're a real thing, honest, and work exactly the same as your standard spud. You can mash them, roast them, or even turn them into healthy, oven-baked fries. Which kid is turning those down??
Orange and yellow: These colours are a sign of super sources of Vitamin A, which among other things helps keep your skin and eyes healthy. Apricots, nectarines, papaya, peaches and mango all make sliced up snacks or delicious smoothies! Then there's sweet potatoes (my personal fave!), butternut squash and carrots which can be roasted, mashed or blended into soup. The famous Vitamin C champs that are oranges and tangerines are always popular, and at certain times of the year there's even pumpkin - which makes excellent muffins! Do I even need to remind you about bananas??
So, even after all of that, are you still wishing that your child would eat her greens? Well first things first; set an example. If you eat your broccoli and salad, it'll encourage your fledgling foodie to follow your lead. Persevere with offering them greens in ways that are new or exciting, such as a stir fry or as a dippable snack. You could even sneak them into dinner - I mince up broccoli into my little girl's favourite macaroni cheese and she has no idea. Give her a piece of broccoli, no chance, but in that cheesy sauce, and it goes down a treat.
I understand that chopping up and freezing/keeping fruit is quite a faff, but nowadays most supermarkets will sell their own smoothies mixes. Just check the nutritional info to make sure that they're not adding anything nasty, and away you go! These fruit mixes are often great, as freezing the fruit early locks in all the goodness you want your kiddies to intake! And before I sign off, I promise I'm not being paid by Morrisons here 😂, it just happens to be the supermarket I'm most familiar with...