I don’t know about your kids but i’d wager that most toddlers are the same, they love to say no especially when it comes to meal times. I get it, we all like a little power, sticking it to the man. I’m partial to it myself! If you think about it, when you’re under 5 there’s not much you really have control over except your poor parents sleep schedules and your own food intake.
We’re pretty lucky in that although Luisa is stubborn as a mule she’s also easily coerced (bad parent, I know) so I’ve always found it quite easy to convince her to at least try fruit with the old ‘OH I LOVE STRAWBERRIES let me eat them’. Once she gets going she finds she enjoys it… sucker. Veg is a little tricker though… she will almost always reject vegetable pizza toppings, chunks in a sauce or pieces in an omelette. I have to be honest i’m not that bothered about it because i’ve found other ways to up her veg intake and I’m confident she’ll come round to mushrooms before she’s 21.
Here’s some of the tactics and recipes we use to make sure Luisa eats plenty of veg with no fuss. I hope some of them work for you too!
Find a dip your kid likes and serve it up with little veggie sticks
We usually just buy pre made houmous / hummus out of laziness but it’s not hard to make and the good thing is you can freeze it in smaller portions, so there’s less waste. I shared my own toddler friendly houmous recipe here which also goes really well with Amy Treasure’s healthy pitta crisps.
Soup, glorious soup
If you can get your tot on board with soup you’ll never feel like your failing on the veggie front. Store bought or home made – it’s all good. My current favourite soup is this asian inspired spinach soup my friend Laura wrote about but you can’t beat classic carrot and lentil or minestrone for autumn comfort factor. Luisa is a really big soup fan, lucky for me. She does prefer a soup without visible ‘bits’ but is quite happy to shovel down any amount of lentils and veg when it’s blended smoothly.
Juices and smoothies can be bulked out with veg and the fruit element used for flavour.
This trick keeps sugar low whilst not compromising on taste. We’ve been eyeing up one of the Panasonic juicers because they operate on a ‘slow’ basis so that the vitamins and nutrients aren’t lost in the juicing process. One of my favourite recipes at the minute is Toby & Roo’s ‘Juice 4’ – the purple one. I also love to make a quick smoothie with whatever is lying around or available in the supermarkets reduced section, inspired by Emma’s 12p smoothie. Another recipe on my ‘must try’ list is this mixed berry smoothie bowl my friend Kerry raves about.
Make your own pasta & pizza sauce. It takes very little time with a blender and you can do it all ‘raw’ ie not cook the veggies first.
There are so may different recipes out there – my favourite is probably a tried and true Jamie Oliver 7 veg one but I also really like this simple tomato sauce that doesn’t require pre cooking. Something I tried recently was blitzing some courgette, spinach and peas with a good dollop of green pesto – Luisa really enjoyed that combo.
And there you have it – my four tricks to get more veg into my toddler. Simple, quick and a little bit lazy. If your kiddo is a bit younger than Luisa check out our weaning journey for advice and ideas. If you’ve got any favourite veg heavy recipes that Luisa might enjoy do let me know, variety is the spice of life after all!