It can sometimes be a challenge to get everyone in the family excited about eating the same thing for dinner. And as much as you may love vegetables, it can sometimes be more work to get the littles ones to try the veggies on their plate. But we know how important it is to ensure that meals consist of fresh, nutrient dense foods. Children’s bodies need the good variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that veggies have to offer. If you’ve got your little ones hooked on our Cloud 9® Bite-Sized Fruity Tomatoes and Uno Bites™ Nano Cucumbers , then it is the perfect time to expand their veggie horizons with flavorful salads and make dinner less of a struggle.
GET EVERYONE INVOLVED –
New meals can be intimidating to children when they don’t know exactly what’s in it—especially when they’re young and trying things for the first time. To help explain new dishes, encourage your little ones to spend time with you in the kitchen while you’re cooking! Assign them kitchen duties relative to their age to make them feel as though they are part of the process. Some examples of kid-friendly kitchen tasks include rinsing produce, mixing ingredients, and slicing vegetables (while supervised). For picky eaters, it’s a great idea to let them build their own plate; this allows them space to be creative and adventurous at their own pace.
Young children learn by watching other people, so it’s important that you model a varied and balanced diet. You don’t need to be perfect, but if your children see you being eager to snack on and cook with vegetables, they likely will be more apt to try them as well. If you have kids of varied ages, it would be awesome if your older children could model a pro-veggie attitude. Little ones often idolize their older siblings, so they could influence their eating habits even more than parents.
START WITH SALADS –
While salads are a delicious and often am easy way to support a healthy lifestyle, they might be a hard sell to some kids. To ease them into the diverse world of salads, start with textures and flavors that your kids know and love. A favorite dish that we like to recommend was sent to us by our friend Laura Ashley Johnson. This family-friendly Tomato and Sweet Corn Salad features Azuca Red Cherry Tomatoes and Uno Bites™ Nano Cucumbers which are both refreshing and familiar to little ones. The dressing, which includes Dijon mustard, basil, honey and minced garlic, is complex enough to appeal to grown-up palettes too. The bright colors of this salad, plus the familiar vegetables make it something that every family member will want to add to their plate. It’s a great option for a side dish, but adding cubed, grilled chicken breast to this salad is also the perfect way to turn it into a meal.
TODDLER FRIENDLY SALADS –
Sometimes the best way to introduce little ones to new veggies is by combining them with something they already know and love. Pasta is often a toddler favorite, so it is a natural step to introduce them to new veggies via pasta salads. A particularly approachable recipe is our Creamy Macaroni Pasta Salad; it’s loaded with kid-friendly veggies like Sweet Bell Peppers, crunchy Mini Cucumbers, and carrots. The dressing is crowd pleaser as well; it includes mayo and mild seasonings like paprika, dried parsley, and black pepper. You can also set aside a portion aside for your toddler with a more basic version of the dressing, then jazz up the other portions to your liking. This is a great practice if you tend to have a more adventurous palette than your kids.
To make sure your pasta salad is easy for toddlers to eat, start by choosing a larger pasta shape and ensuring the veggies, and other elements you add, are large enough for little hands to pick up. To make sure the little ones are getting the nutrients they need, beef up a pasta salad recipe with extra veggies, protein, and fat to make it a whole meal. For example, avocado can be added to almost any pasta salad dressing to add creaminess and up the healthy fat content, which is very important for growing brains. In addition to the diversity of veggies you include, you can opt for a whole grain pasta to increase the fiber and protein content—you’d be surprised how much protein you can get from pasta!
INTRODUCE COLOR & FLAVOR –
The name of the game here is repetition and patience; a child may need to try a food several times before they can decide whether they like it or not. Allowing kids to look for recipes with you is a great way to put them in the driver’s seat and eliminate any hesitation they may have towards trying something new.
Creating a salad that is colorful and visually appealing is a great way to get kids excited about trying new vegetables. A great salad that illustrates this idea is our Rainbow Salad—the name says it all. Though it has some potentially new flavors for little ones like kale, tahini, and chickpeas, this one is a win if your kids like hummus. There are some kid approved veggies in this salad as well, including, Mini Cucumbers, Sangria Tomato Medley, and carrots—so your odds of them loving it look pretty good!
START WITH BABY STEPS –
It can sometimes feel like a losing battle trying to change your kids’ eating habits. But don’t give up! There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to integrating salads and fresh veggies into your family’s diet, since everyone has different tastes. For even more tips and tricks on how to incorporate veggies into your family’s diet, check out our blog: How to Get Your Kids to love Veggies: 4 Simple Ways. If they are really resistant, you can always include extra veggies in foods they already like, like pasta sauces or soups. They may not even notice that they are trying something new!
In addition to mealtime, our full line up of snacking veggies, like Uno Bites™ Nano Cucumbers, Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers and Oriana® Orange Grape Tomatoes will help you provide your little ones with all the vitamins and nutrients they need.
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