Spring is officially here and we have just wrapped up March and now it is April. That means that things will start to turn green soon and people will plant gardens and fresh produce will start to grow. I love it when seasons change and I especially love being able to enjoy fresh produce that I have grown or purchase from the Farmer’s Market. There are so many delicious fresh vegetables to enjoy and one of the first vegetable items that will be available is fresh lettuce.
I am not sure how many of you have children, but it can be a struggle for parents to have their children eat vegetables, let alone green vegetables. Depending on the age of your child, it is normal for them to want to be independent and have their own opinions and often this comes out at the dinner table. I wanted to share with you some tips and tricks to help you get more green veggies into your meals and help your “picky child” eat those vegetables that you have prepared.
Green vegetables are good for you, but why? What makes green vegetables healthy? The color green is made from a compound colored chlorophyll and this pigment absorbs like and is critical to the process of photosynthesis within the plant. That process of photosynthesis is the plant’s way of taking sunlight and processing it into usable energy to grow. Without the chlorophyll, the plant couldn’t collect and process the sunlight.
So plants are green, because they contain chlorophyll, but is that what makes them healthy? Not necessarily, the main reason that green vegetables are healthy is that they contain other vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that are used and metabolized by our bodies to fight off diseases and help us stay healthy and grow strong. The green color serves as a symbol that there are other vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants in that food item and it is good for us.
Ok, so green vegetables are healthy, but how do I get my picky child to try those foods? It can be tough to have a power struggle at the dinner table over vegetables. Honestly, that is not the ideal situation for yourself or your child. The time to start talking about and teaching about how good and healthy green vegetables are, is earlier. When you are grocery shopping, stop and look at all the green produce and talk about the different types of vegetables (lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, green beans, etc). Have your child help pick out a new vegetable to try and take it home. Then include your child in the preparation/cooking process for that food item. If your child choose broccoli, have them help you wash it, cut it up and then cook that vegetable. You can talk about the food item and discuss how it looks like tiny trees and how the top of the broccoli is bumpy and how the stalk is smooth. Then at dinner time have your child help serve the broccoli to everyone at the table (including themselves). Then at dinner, make sure that you eat the broccoli as well and talk about how good it tastes. Encourage your child to try 1 bite. Then praise them for helping to cook the food and taking a bite. Then leave it at that. This takes time and it is a process. Don’t feel like your child is going to eat all the broccoli right away, but keep offering that food item to them and keep including them in the cooking process. It is tough, but you are not in this alone and learning about how good for you green foods are is just the beginning of learning to explore and love food!
Check out the picture below with some other tips on dealing with picky eaters! If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out and I would love to work you and your children on trying new foods and making dinner time a more positive experience.