Kids Want Vegetables! This has been the mantra for the month of October in my world and I’m inspired to share my experiences with you! While I meet hundreds of parents who complain that their kids don’t eat vegetables, I have the opposite experience with kids. They happily munch away on these nutritious edibles and love posing for fun photos, too! There is a major communication challenge between kids and grown-ups when it comes to veggies. I’m going to share my joy with you to inspire you to change the dialogue and interaction with your kids about vegetables!
Vegetables are Weird and Fun to Play With! We are growing a variety of root vegetables and leafy greens in the HealthBarn USA garden and kids are just having a great time playing and eating! During a recent field trip, I met the “statue of kale” and the “statue of lettuce;” and laughed when I passed by a “queen” who was being fanned by her friends bearing gigantic kale leaves before they ate them happily! And, carrots loaded with beta carotene are so energized with good nutrition and flavor that kids go crazy for them!
How much can you pick and eat? Kids really love to harvest and they have a great time posing for funny pictures with their veggie picks! They also love to figure out how much they can eat all at once! Freshly harvested green beans was a big hit at the Barn this year since we had an abundant crop. Many kids couldn’t resist eating them right from the plant!
Be a Forager! Do you know what it means to forage? To go out into the wilderness and hunt for food and provisions to live! The kids who were able to define the term, won a HealthBarn USA water bottle (not many!), but once they learned the concept — their brains were on fire! They would ask me, “so we are going to go into the garden and figure out what we can eat and what is poisonous. How will be know what is poisonous?” Simple, they have to ask me! Who will then make sure that they are harvesting the vegetable properly too! (there is always a hidden purpose to my creative ideas). They were timed and the harvest basket was loaded in 10 minutes time! This is a great way to engage their curiosity, taste buds and minds to determine where their food comes from!
Kids as Advocates! I have been doing our Super Salad Bar Assembly a lot lately — it’s especially great for schools that have gardens so we can use the fresh produce! I have learned that kids love making their own individual salads and many of them have never eaten a salad! While it takes grown-ups a little extra time to put the “toppings” into separate bowls, it’s well worth the effort! Just establish the rule that a salad has to be more than cheese and croutons — at least one veggie must be included in the bowl. During the recent Super Salad Bar assemblies at the Garfield Middle School for over 350 7th grade students, they put me to the test! Many of the students after the 1st assembly (100 students) came up to me asking if they can get a salad bar in the school cafeteria and how can we make that happen! I decided to take a survey for the next 2 assemblies to find out how many would want a salad bar so we had a “voice” to present to the principal and food service operator. We gathered over 197 signatures (out of 225 students) demanding a salad bar — WOW! I can’t make this stuff up!
As you can see, I have a wide range of experiences with kids and vegetables outside of the home (at the Barn and in schools) and I say with full confidence that they absolutely want vegetables when it’s presented in a way that’s fun and interesting to their taste buds (recipes and salad bars are key!). This all seems like common sense, yet it’s one of the biggest obstacles to overcome regarding children’s weight and health! Let your kids lead when it comes to fruits and veggies and get inspired!
What’s your families favorite vegetable?
– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.