Gluten-Free Cooking Expert Carol Fenster Offers Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables

August 12, 2011

Gluten-free cooking expert, Carol Fenster, author of 10 gluten-free cookbooks, offers tips for getting kids to eat vegetables.

Denver, CO (PRWEB) August 10, 2011

“Many families are trying to eat more vegetables these days,” says Carol Fenster, author of 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes. But getting the kids to eat their vegetables can be challenging, so here are some tips to make vegetables more appealing to them:

*Make veggies accessible. Kids are more likely to eat veggies if they’re easy to get at and ready for eating. So, have a stash of washed and ready-to-eat veggies in the fridge such as kid-friendly baby carrots, celery sticks, bell pepper slices, broccoli flowerets, and zucchini sticks.

*Offer veggies as after-school snacks and lunch-box options. Have a plate of raw veggies ready for the kids when they come home from school, rather than calorie-laden, trans-fat packed cookies, chips, and other processed foods. Raw veggies pack well for school lunches, too.

*Have veggies for breakfast. Add veggies to morning smoothies. For example, a blueberry smoothie is already dark purple, so additional items like beets, bell peppers, and broccoli in small amounts will not be noticeable. Start out slowly, gradually making veggies a larger proportion of the total smoothie.

*Make veggies an addition, not a substitute. Nobody wants favorite foods taken away. If your kids are meat-lovers, keep the meat but use meat as more of a condiment. For example, tacos can still contain a small amount of ground beef but offer other veggie filings such as sautéed bell peppers and onions”¦with guacamole or Pico de Gallo as add-ons.

*Hide pureed veggies in food. Pureed vegetables can be incorporated into meat loaf, meatballs, casseroles, and spaghetti sauce. Use pureed butternut squash or pumpkin in creamy soups like carrot or tomato. Recent research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that veggie intake nearly doubled when kids ate vegetable-enhanced foods”¦and the kids didn’t even know it.

*Dress veggies up. Serve veggies with dips such as hummus or ranch salad dressing or guacamole. A light dusting of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, or a sprinkle of hot sauce perks up bland veggies like avocado wedges.

*Make veggies fun. Serve veggies in creative ways or interesting shapes, with fun utensils. For example, use a straw to drink soup, serve broccoli florets as “trees” on top of mashed potatoes, or arrange veggies on whimsical plates. A movie-themed plate will be much more enticing to a small child than a plain one.

*Let the kids help. Kids can wash the veggies (older kids can also peel them) or arrange them on a plate and decide where the plate is placed on the dinner table. Involvement gives kids a greater interest in what they eat.

*Show kids where veggies come from. Visit a farmer’s market to see what fresh vegetables look like without fancy packaging. Better yet, visit a real farm. Let kids choose veggies for tonight’s dinner and prepare them with you, discussing what they learned about vegetables that day. Fenster’s blog chronicles how she prepares the vegetables delivered by her weekly Community-Supported-Agriculture program.

*Don’t give up. It can take five or more tries before kids accept new foods. Don’t take rejections personally; that turns food into a battleground. Try presenting veggies in different ways: perhaps raw at first, then later lightly steamed or roasted. Roasted asparagus dusted with Parmesan cheese tastes quite different from plain steamed asparagus.

“Interest in a plant-based diet has grown so much that we now offer at least 3 “vegetarian” menus at my weekly online cookbook at GfreeCuisine,” says Fenster. “Everywhere you look there is an article touting the benefits of eating more vegetables, so these tips are meant to help parents achieve that goal for their kids,” she adds.


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