Get Your Kids to Eat Their Veggies and a Chance to Win $400 #FreshVeggiesWDY

“Mom no veggies please”

I did a double take when I heard those words coming from my 8 year old Sabrina. My kids have always eaten their vegetables, and Sabrina has been the least picky of them all, begging me for arugula when she was just three, and eating it by the handful without any salad dressing… just plain, simple and delicious!  Something was up and I was going to get to the bottom of it.

5 tips for getting kids to eat their vegetables title image

After a little digging I learned that Sabrina was often embarrassed at school because her meals are so healthy.  I’d had a sneaky suspicion something was up when she started asking for more “normal” kid friendly foods — pizza, pasta, salami sandwiches with no salad, instead of the foods I normally packed for her — smoked salmon and zucchini quiche, prosciutto sandwich with arugula and fresh basil, caprese salad.  Foods she has always loved and still eats plenty of at home.

She attends an International school with kids from all over the world, with different cultures and eating habits and until this year food was never an issue. On the contrary, she’d come home asking about new foods she’d discovered through one friend or another. She’d also beamed with pride on more than one occasion when she shared that she had inspired a friend to try new, healthy foods. So clearly this was a new phenomenon and more of a phase my little one was going through, one I hoped would run it’s course rather quickly.  I know the dangers of caving in to the “no veggies” request, so rather than eliminate the veggies altogether I made a deal with her: she got to pick which veggies went into her lunch box and how they are prepared, and she has to have at least two choices every day.

That worked!

If there is one thing I have learned about teaching kids healthy habits, whether it be eating certain foods, brushing their teeth or anything else, empowering them to make the right choice is the best way to avoid ongoing battles.  My girls grew up on homemade baby foods with all sorts of veggies, and until this recent episode with Sabrina, we’ve never had the ‘Veggie battles” so many parents struggle with.  I’m glad we nipped this one in the bud but I know for too many parents the war on veggies is one that never ceases.

Here are 5 Simple Ways to EMPOWER your kids to choose to eat their veggies

Chef for the Day

Put your kids in charge of meal planning and let them come up with their own concoctions. Set up some ground rules (you must include 2 vegetables  at every meal) and spend some time researching new recipes.  Take them grocery shopping and help them make healthy choices. Point out new veggies and ask them how they think they would taste and come up with three ways you could prepare them. The farmer’s market is a fabulous place to discover all sorts of fabulous veggies (and fruits) and even sample them raw.   Ask the vendor all sorts of questions, recipe suggestions.  Most of all make it fun!  It’s amazing what happens when kids are in charge 🙂

Set Up a Salad Bar

We serve a salad at every meal, and setting up a salad bar is a super fun way to empower your kids to make healthy choices. I start with a large bowl of mixed organic greens and set up a lazy Susan on the table with bowls of fresh cut organic veggies, a few seeds or nuts, olives and other accoutrements. The girls love spinning it around and making their own custom salads. Here are some fun veggies to add to your salads: zucchini sticks, cauliflower florets, broccoli forets, red, yellow, orange or green pepper strips, cucumbers, jicama, fennel, purple carrots, avocado, endive….

Add Veggies to the Foods They Love

Add fresh veggies to their favorite store bought spaghetti sauce.  Turn Mac-N-Cheese into a casserole by adding sautéed spinach, zucchini or broccoli.  Add tons of veggies to their favorite lasagna, meatloaf, chili con carne… The possibilities are truly endless and before you know it your kids will be loving their veggies.

Plant a Garden

young girl with teacher in organic vegetable garden

Kids love to get their hands dirty, digging in the dirt so put that enthusiasm to good use and plant a vegetable garden!  They are also wonderfully curious and endlessly thirsty for knowledge.  There is something truly magical about watching little seeds turn into luscious plants and little blossoms become a tomato, a pepper or a giant squash. Kale and chard are gorgeous and so tasty when picked fresh!  Nurture that love of learning and experience the magic with them.  Veggies are so much more fun to sample when you’ve planted them. nurtured them, and watch them grow.  And time in the garden is the perfect time for science lessons, talking about nutrition, the impact of different foods on our brain, energy, mood…  Why pesticides and herbicides are harmful to our bodies and our planet… Kids love to learn and I’ve seen first hand how a little time in the garden leads to a voracious appetite come dinner time!

Learn Fun Food Facts at Every Meal

Meal time is perfect for learning and kids love to learn fun facts about just about anything, so why not tap into that curiosity and set up food related games at your dinner table.  Choose a food you want to focus on and have everyone come up with something unique about that food.  Keep a dictionary handy and have each child pick a food that starts with a certain letter then read something fun about that food. Prep some index cards  with questions and have each member of the family pick a card, then everyone tries to answer. Did you know zucchini is a fruit and not a vegetable?  What makes a fruit a fruit?  Why do strawberries have their seeds on the outside?  How many different types of squashes are there?

The vegetable wars can be exhausting and it’s easy to cave in and push the veggies aside, but with a little fun and persistence you can quickly teach your kids to make healthy choices and actually enjoy eating their veggies.

Need a little encouragement?

How would you like to bring home a beautiful LeCreuset French Oven?  Oh just think about all the delicious meals you could cook up with this beauty!

Le Creuset French oven UHC June Grand Prize

To encourage you and your family to eat your veggies I’ve teamed up with United Healthcare to bring you a super fun contest. Share a photo of your veggies with the Hashtag #FreshVeggiesWDY on your favorite social media platform or upload your photo to their site at and you could win this beautiful French Oven.

This is just one of many prize available this month so make sure to check out their website for lots of fun… How about an iPad?  Or a $400 Gift Card?  Each week you can also qualify for one of three $25 Gift Cards so head on over to and good luck!

UHC June Dares Graphic

You can enter each contest once a day so bookmark this site and make sure to participate daily!

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  1. Robin Masshole mommy says:

    I have always had pretty good success at getting them to eat their veggies when I set up a bar and give them options. They like to have choices.

    • Choices are key for kids Robin. I’ve found that the more we empower them to make healthy choices, the more likely they are to choose foods and other habits that are good for them.

  2. Allison says:

    I love the idea of planting a garden! My son wants to do this so bad, but living in the city is tough. I think I’m going to attempt to do one in a big planter in my kitchen this summer. Here’s hoping he will start eating more than just lima beans!

    • A garden is a real treasure Allison but tough indeed in the city. I think you could have fun with a container garden though and I’ve seen some really fun options with hydroponic gardens that don’t require soil and can be suspended. The foods grow down like beautiful planter plants and make beautiful decorations that taste fabulous!

  3. I have found that if my kids help prepare the meals, they are more inclined to eat them! Busy days this is not an option, but at least a couple times a week we do this.

    • I love when my girls help with prepping meals Kim! And that’s one of the things I love about summers. With more time on our hands we can take our time shopping and cooking so they get a lot more hands on experience than during the regular school year. When time is too tight we at least try to plan a healthy snack menu together.

  4. My kids try to get out of eating their veggies, so I have to find ways to hide them in muffins and such. We were hoping to plant a garden this year but were unable to at our rental house.

    • I have a lot of friends who resort to sneaking them in Naomi. The challenge with that approach is that you won’t be able to sneak those veggies in forever. It’s a great way to make sure they get their veggies but planting that garden and getting excited about veggies would be a great way to get them to actually want to try their veggies. Could you plant a container garden? Have a few special veggies and herbs to start with?

  5. See I never had issues getting mine to eat veggies. They just did. And I guess I was blessed looking at some of the comments here. Wish there were a trade secret!

    • You are one lucky mama Debbie! For the most part my girls have always eaten what they were served, and with gusto. I attribute that to the fact that we never made a big deal out of it. We served veggies and other foods, and we ate them. With each one, however, we went through a period of questioning some of the foods we served, and it always seemed to be related to what other kids were or were not eating at school. Peer pressure shows up in funny ways from pretty early on 😉

  6. These are all remarkable ways to get kids to eat their veggies.When you can get your kids to eat their veggies it’s an experience like none other.

  7. These tips would definitely my kids. We were never able to make our own veggie garden but I wish we could have!

    • A veggie garden is so wonderful for so many reasons Liz, I wish you could have one as well. You can always grow herbs and sprouts in containers either on a windowsill or in your kitchen. Kids love to watch sprouts grow because it happens pretty fast.

  8. My kids SUCK at eating vegetables. I am forever on them about eating them. Green beans seem to be the only thing I can get them to eat.

    • I feel for you Leah and I hope that some of these suggestions will make vegetable eating a little easier. Instead of always being on them about it, which tends to only lead to digging their heels in even more, try to make it a game and empower them to choose to eat them… or turn meal time into mini science and biology classes where you talk about how the brain works, how different types of fuel lead to different behaviors. I heard Dr. Daniel Amen share a story a few years back about how he always talked about the impact of various foods on the brain with his 2 year old grand daughter and then he’d set up 2 snack choices: one healthy choice (red peppers, broccoli … ) and one not so healthy: cookies, ice cream… Then he let her choose which one she wanted and explain why she made that choice. She did not always eat the cookies or other sweet treats but started making more and more healthy choices as she thought about how the foods made her feel.

  9. I buy a veggie in big quantities and prepare it a tooooon until it isn’t such a big deal to eat it. I prefer some veggies only certain ways so I mix up the way I serve it.

  10. What a great contest and I love your ideas to encourage kids to eat their veggies. My older son will eat pretty much any veggie I put in front of him but my little guy is super picky when it comes to veggies. I can’ be very frustrating!

    • Thanks Jeannette! I hear you as far as frustration goes. With my little one the change in eating habits was something that kind of caught me off guard because she has always been a super healthy eater. Lately she has been excited about creating all sorts of dishes and has made a point of telling me she always uses at least one vegetable.. there’s power in getting kids in the kitchen and letting them get creative 🙂 Good luck with your little one!

  11. My kids do not love to eat their veggies, unless it’s broccoli, but we’re trying. These are great tips.

  12. I haven’t met a food my kids don’t like including veggies! I’m going to check into the giveaway, we can use that $$!

  13. Yeah Maria! I love reading that !!! I love the monthly challenges from United Healthcare.. they are a really fun reminder to make healthy habits life habits. Good luck!!

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