How to Get Your Family to Enjoy Their Vegetables

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Recipe: Sauteed Asparagus with Fresh Tarragon and Lemon

My family eats a lot of vegetables.  Especially during the growing season.

It’s been fabulous to see the growth in my children as their taste buds liven up to whatever I’m cooking.

It just pleases me to see my oldest just scoop up his food and eat in delight.  It’s taken almost six years to get where we’re at but we’ve arrived.  He loves his vegetables.

My youngest still needs prodding and the ever constant threat of, “if you don’t eat your food you’re going to bed.”  Which an hour later, I end up having to feed him myself.  I know… a little ridiculous at four years old but he eats it and hey… this is the Spanish mother in me 😉

I’m hoping in another couple of years he’ll join the ranks of his big brother.

How do I get my family to enjoy their vegetables?

Pimientos Asados

Recipe: Pimientos Asados – Roasted Red Peppers in a Vinaigrette

One of the reasons that my family enjoys their vegetables has to do with the way we prepare them.

Most American families boil and butter their vegetables.  Let’s be honest, how good do brussels sprouts boiled with a pat of butter taste? Yeah… not so hot.  Every other veggie prepared in that manner can taste kind of bland as well.

Today, I’m sharing The Mediterranean Secret to Phenomenal Vegetables at Keeper of the Home.

I’m sharing how using the ingredients garlic, olive oil, onions, and fried tomatoes with the methods of either sauteing or roasting will take your vegetables from bleh to phenomenal.

You’ll find that once you start sauteing and roasting your vegetables specifically in garlic and olive oil, you’ll never turn back.


Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Onions and Pancetta

Head over to Keeper of the Home to find out specifically what vegetables work for which method with quick and easy recipes to start enjoying many varieties of seasonal vegetables.

It takes time and patience for children to learn to enjoy their vegetables

If you’re a family with toddlers or small children, it really takes time.  You may have a wonder child that has always enjoyed their vegetables but for the rest of us it takes patience.

One thing it does take on our end is to constantly serve them vegetables regardless of their reaction.

They may turn their noses and look at you with a, “uh-uh, I ain’t eatin that,” kind of look, however, we need to reinforce that it’s not a choice but a requirement to eat their vegetables.

When my children were toddlers, 2-3 years old, we had a two bite rule. You have to eat two bites or it’s off to bed.  Often, we’d allow one bite.  For me, I at least knew they were sampling and getting a taste as they develop their taste buds.

If you know our family, you’d know that dinner time is not a strict tense place where we’re forcing our children to eat.  We also make things fun. The children help me garden and pick our own vegetables.  This in turn makes them excited to help me cook their own vegetables in the kitchen and eat.

I’m finally seeing that this routine is paying off and brightens my heart when either one of my boys tells me, “this is good mama.”

We still have our off days but there are far more better than worse.

How do you get your family to enjoy their vegetables?

16 Responses to "How to Get Your Family to Enjoy Their Vegetables"
  1. I’m like you, I just keep serving it and my 2.5 year old has to at least “try” it. He does pretty good. Now, my 1 year old isn’t into fruit! What is up with that? I just keep putting it on her plate and I’m hoping someday she’ll catch on:)

  2. janice says:

    We use garlic in just about everything too. Our 6 yr old is good about trying a bite of whatever is on her plate. She recently discovered that she does like asparagus. The challenge is our 16 yr old. He used to be great about eating vegetables but the list seems to be shrinking. however he now likes tomatoes and onions. I hope that later he will go back to eating more of a variety once he gets out of his teens.

  3. Steph says:

    I have to say, reading this makes me feel a bit better about what goes on at our dinner table-happy that my child is not the only one who has stopped eating her once favorite foods! :) We also have the “2 bite or bed” rule–that helps, but I also many times have to resort to feeding my 3 year old. She likes to feel like she helps, so often times I will ask when I am making dinner what kind of vegetables sounds good to her–if she refuses to eat them I can remind her that she picked them out. I roast or saute many veggies as well and it has helped quite a bit–I tell her that butter or olive oil & garlic are in them as well as sprinkle a tiny bit more salt on hers so she can see–she is very into princesses, so she made up that the salt is “princess sparkles” and she likes to eat then! My 1 year old still eats what we give her hope that can continue as long as possible!! :)

  4. Holli says:

    Yum. I love your suggestions for adding flavor to vegetables and varying the cooking methods. We too use Garlic in nearly everything and herbs.

    After my daughter suffered severe constipation at about 1 years old, it became my personal quest to get my family to eat veggies at every meal. It took about 3 months for her to get on board, and almost a year for my oldest (he’s the stubborn picky eater). Your suggestion of trying a bite is spot on!

    We also tried putting a new veggie on our plates and let him ask about it before serving it up. This created wonderful curiosity.

    So, to get to the point: To get my family to enjoy their vegetables and eat them, I had to shift my thinking about what breakfast consisted of or lunch, etc. How could I include a vegetable? Then, I experimented to see what they liked best. Most important: Don’t give up!

    My latest discovery: letting the kids add dried herbs. I’ll pick out some Thyme or Rosemary or Parsley and let them add it at the table. At 4 and 5 years old, they love it.

  5. Tara says:

    Hi, I found you via Keeper of the Home. I loved this post because I too have children who love veggies. My friends tell me all the time that I’m “lucky”. I just laugh. They don’t know the work that went into getting them to eat veggies when they were little. We approached it a lot like you do. Now my kids are honestly excited when I make their favorites. Currently, my 11 yr. old and 9 yr. old are OBSESSED with asparagus. :) We roast it with olive oil and salt. Soooo good! They will literally stand right by the oven then entire time it’s cooking and cheer when I take the pan of asparagus out. Broccoli is another favorite as well as carrots. We also love artichokes but they’re a rare treat since they’re so expensive in the grocery store. We just planted some in our garden this week so we’re crossing our fingers that our growing season is long enough (we live in Utah). Thanks for sharing your recipes! I can’t wait to try the veggies with fried tomatoes. We’ve never had them that way.

  6. Paloma says:

    Hola Diana! So happy to be back on your blog! It’s been so long you probably don’t even remember me … “The Coffee Shop” is my blog and good things in life (children, husband, everything) kept me away from blogging for a while! I just couldn’t keep up with everything! Then… I tried to come back but was very inconsistent with it all.. until lately! And I hope I am back for GOOD! So… a couple years ago you said on my blog: “It’s so great to meet other God loving Latina’s!!” and going back through my posts and reading through my comments I just knew I had to re-gain my old friends back! I need to have “The Coffee Shop” be even better than it was… but it’s FRIENDS who make a space special! And I hope you would allow me to count with your friendship and comments again! You’ll definitely see me around more often! It’s hard to get rid of this Mexican! 😉 Un abrazo y un beso para ti! (LOVE YOUR PICTURES… STILL!)

  7. Shell says:

    This is just my personal philosophy from experience and from taking care of teens and adults with eating disorders(as a Psychiatric Nurse.) Children learn to hate items that they are force fed. They learn to attach punishment to food, which can lead to issues later on.(either anorexia to maintain control or becoming fat to insulate from emotional pain)
    I think new foods should be introduced slowly and I think parents should lead by example. If they see you eating it, they will eventually come around. I also see mothers feeding their children a lot of meat and then wondering why someone so small can’t or won’t eat the veggies.Meat , even organic meat is one of the most toxic things you can feed your family. I have also seen parents who expect children to eat an adult size portion. No way are they going to do it.

    • J says:

      I agree with you! My sons are in their 30s now. When the first was just starting to eat solids and I expressed concern about developing good eating habits his doctor gave me some great advice. He said offer good healthy food at meals and snack time and then let them eat, he said as a healthy child he would eat what he needed if it was offered. He said some days he may eat 3 bananas and the next day load up on another food but that over a week or two it would balance out. He urged me to just not make an issue of food so that food did not become an issue for him later. I followed his advice with both kids. I served health food and let them decide what and how much to eat. I never made any rules, meal time was a time to relax and enjoy being together. They loved veggies, any kind prepared any way! A little cheese over the broccoli or cauliflower, dips with carrot, cucumbers or peppers. Brussels sprouts and beets, tomatoes, any veggies! They even enjoyed veggies that I did not really like! Sometimes they seemed more focused on a certain food but like the Dr said, it balanced out over time. It worked for us. They still eat a lot of veggies as adults.

  8. carrie says:

    thanks so much for posting this! Currently my almost 2 year old is on strike for dinnertime. We aren’t the type of parents to cater to demands for whatever our son wants or craves. So if he doesn’t eat, he goes to bed without. He eats breakfast and lunch fine so I know it’s a strong will right now. I love that you said you have them take at least 2 bites. And that you bring the kids out gardening with you. I think this will be great to do (involving him in prep and cooking) when he’s a little older. Thanks for posting! I often feel my son is the only one going through this particular phase! :)

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