It's up to us as parents to make sure our kids are eating healthy and getting the nutrients they need to thrive. Eating the right foods has so many benefits:
- Stronger immune system - kids that eat healthy get sick less and if they do they can heal quicker.
- Healthy weight - kids who eat veggies maintain a healthy weight.
- Easier to think of meals your kids will like.
- Healthy foods can even help your child behave better and sleep better.
- Veggies help your child be regular if you catch my whiff -- I mean drift!
- Reduce risk of diseases.
- And of course veggies are full of nutrients to make our kids strong and healthy!
The best way to get toddlers to eat fruits and veggies is to introduce healthy foods from the start so they develop a taste for these foods. Our son ate very healthy foods since he started solids at 6 months old and he really acquired a taste for a variety of fruits and veggies. We avoided cereals and opted for sweet potato puree, sweet pea puree, and Serenity Kids has amazing protein-rich food pouches for babies to get introduced to foods like wild caught salmon puree for toddlers.
But if you have a picky eater or are just starting to introduce more veggies here are four sure ways to get your kid to eat nutrient-rich foods and say, "Yum, mama! More please."
Our friends over at the blog Juiceboxes + TEQUILA: Healthy, Happy & Hippy Parenting (the blog of the mom who invented the Woombie swaddle - the best baby swaddle on the market) recently shared a go-to smoothie recipe for kids.
The cute part of the story is Karen's twin son named the smoothie LaPea, LaPau - she has no idea what that name means, but her family has been calling this nutrient-packed smoothie this ever since.
Best Morning Smoothie for Kids
*For smaller kids try a small amount of chia seeds because for my two year old it made him go poop a lot (he was already regular), so either omit the chia seeds or try a small amount to see how your child does. If your kid has constipation issues then this could definitely help (or swap the chia seeds for 1 tablespoon coconut oil - I know this works like a charm!).
*for the power greens make sure to read all labels to ensure what the age recommendation is - should be totally okay, but always make sure. While I was pregnant I drank a scoop of Amazing Grass Green Superfood (Alkalize & Detox) and it was AMAZING! Karen recommends another kind below.
The Chameleon Smoothie
This smoothie is called the chameleon because it's actually a green smoothie but the last two steps make it sweet and berry colored. My son sometimes will drink a green smoothie, but more times than not he won't simply because it's green I suppose.
As soon as I throw in a half banana and some frozen berries he's all over it.
Here's the recipe, but play around for your desired taste and thickness:
- 2-3 ice cubes
- 1/4 green apple
- 1 kiwi
- 1/4 cup green grapes
- 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 whole lemon, peeled
- 1 cup kale or spinach
- 3/4 cup coconut water
- 1/2 banana
- 1/4 cup frozen berries
- blend in Nutribullet or similar - blenders leave smoothies chunky so use one that breaks down all the food and emulsifies it.
#2 Add Veggies to Purees
We buy pasta sauce that has no sugar and instead uses ingredients like sweet potato juice or agave and has cauliflower, onions, carrots, squash and more in the sauce. Taste just like regular sauce if not better!
#3 Add Veggies to Baked Goods
This is one of my favorite ways to get my toddler to eat more veggies - and it's great for me too because it's a healthy treat. One of my favorite recipes is these divine Paleo No Sugar Pumpkin Pie Bites - it uses bananas and honey instead of refined sugar. We top it of with coco whip (like cool whip except made with coconut cream and no junk inside - in the freezer organic section of the store).
#4 Farmers Market
We call veggies "Earth's Candy" because they can be just as sweet but much tastier. We bring our son to the local Farmers Market to show him all the veggies and where they grow.
One farmstand we visit is in Easton Connecticut called Sherwood Farms and it's AWESOME! They have a little store with tons of produce from their farm and they let the public visit the farm grounds and the animals too. They have mini horses, cows, alpacas, sheep, goats, and chickens. We bring veggie scraps from home to feed them - green beans, carrots, and apples.
By educating kids where veggies come from and even growing veggies with your kids, they become more open to eating foods they know about and help grow is even better.
I always say, "Yum, this is as sweet as candy!" And my son is interested and tries it.
You are setting your kids up for a lifetime of good health by introducing a variety of veggies right when they start eating solid foods. Limit the processed food and grab a fruit or veggie instead.