Does your child turn up his nose at the sight of greens? Are mealtimes a constant struggle to get him to eat his greens? A few tricks mixed together with a good dose of patience can do the job. Read on to see if you can try some of these ideas in your home.
Leafy green vegetables are powerhouses of nutrition. Rich in several vitamins and minerals they should form an essential part of an everyday staple diet. However, children are naturally attracted to sweet tastes and may dislike greens because they taste a little bitter or in their words ‘yucky’. Maybe your kid is a green ninja gobbling up all your green creations with gusto! In any case, adding more variety calls for innovation from your part.
Involve your kids in shopping for greens. Make it a fun activity. If they feel involved in buying decisions, there might be less resistance to eating them.
Let’s say it’s your responsibility to buy all fruits and veggies, except greens which are kids’ responsibility. Tell your kids to spot the greens in the shop/mandi and let them choose what they would like to try. Make a game of it by making up silly names like ‘dhamakedar dhania’ or ‘splendid spinach’ etc. Tell your kids to assess their freshness and price and add to the cart!! Over a period of time, they will start observing the trends of seasonality and pricing, you could encourage them by appreciating in front of people. Kaam bhi, gyaan bhi.
Let your child help you in growing greens in your house. Herbs especially can be easily grown on a window sill. To start off with, your homegrown greens can include mint, curry leaves, basil and coriander. Make your kids sow the seeds or saplings and water them every day. Seeing them grow is very exciting for kids. If your kids are grown up, you can completely hand over the responsibility of taking care of the planted greens to them.
Like other veggies, greens eaten in raw form retain all their nutrients. With a little bit of creative thinking, greens can be added to several dishes in raw form to boost up your child’s nutrient intake. If this is difficult, you can also add cooked greens. Find below many ideas to do so.
Start with subtle tasting greens like lettuce and spinach and add more variety as time goes along.
Start by adding a small quantity of greens to salads and other dishes. Increase quantity upon acceptance.
Give fancy names to your veggie salad – Green Ninja salad, Green Monster salad etc to fire their imagination.
While it is best to eat fruits alone as they digest very quickly, sometimes you can add them to your kids’ veggie salads. The sweet taste of fruits makes the veggie salad more acceptable to kids. You can also add dry fruits such as raisins and dates.
Get them to help make the dishes and serve you and serve themselves. Don’t criticize their attempts or comment on the mess. Kitchen is a great place to learn.
Greens in dry subzis are not much liked by kids. So you can try putting greens to the curries you make at home. They especially go well with a few dals, for eg: try adding spinach to chana dal, it tastes yum. You can chop and add or add as a puree as some kids don’t like leaves coming in their mouth.
Greens can also be added in soups. Spinach soup is the most common one. But every time you make a mixed veg soup, add in some greens. For eg: tomato soup with some dhania leaves ups the flavor and presentation. You can also add celery or bok choy in soup.
Add nut powder on greens to make them tastier.
Dhaniya and pudina can be added to enhance flavor to all kinds of dishes. Never lose an opportunity to add them, unless your kid dislikes them specifically.
Add greens to their favourite foods like noodles, pasta, tikkis, rotis, dosas etc. Make sure to shred them up finely. Try the hara bhara kabab.
Chutneys and dips are a great way to up their green intake.
Green smoothies, juices or green drinks, greens with fruit are other innovative ideas too. Try the lauki cucumber mint juice.
.Sometimes additional effort to make the dish look good is worth the effort. Children love innovative presentations. Make the dish colourful and with many textures and colours and it is sure to be a hit. For example:
Salads can be served in small lettuce cups
Cut sticks of carrots and cucumbers can be rolled up in spinach leaves served with a dip
Rotis can be rolled up with spinach, basil and shredded vegetables and cut up served with toothpicks.
Don’t have too many rules for kids, let them learn by experimenting.
Don’t make an issue if your attempt fails. Try again and offer with patience and love.
Coax them to take just one bite, do not force them to finish.
Kids learn by observation. So eat along with them.
Any change to get your child to eat healthy especially if you are transitioning your child from sweets and processed items to healthy food is bound to take some time. With love, patience and a little bit of ingenuity, the transition is sure to happen. Meanwhile, enjoy this phase with your child!
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