Guest Post – Mark Nazzal, How To Help Your Children Consume More Vegetables

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broccoliI’m pretty sure that, as a parent, you cringe in despair every time you hear the a government official’s or a nutrition expert’s recommendation regarding how many servings of vegetables your children should be consuming a day.

“Really? Four servings? I’m not sure I could even get them to eat 4 servings of ice-cream a day..”

I understand your pain.

The good news, however, is that there are some really clever and fun strategies you can employ in order to have your little ones eat all the vegetables they need without meeting much in terms of resistance. Give any of the following a try:

Tip #1: Mash It!

That’s right; mash the veggies. One of the things kids really hate about vegetables is their texture, and to be honest – I can’t blame them. Once the veggies are mashed though, they take on a whole new form, both taste and texture-wise. Here are a few hints to get you started:

1. Peel the vegetables of your choice and cook them until tender. Don’t worry about your vegetables losing nutritional values once cooked – even if it’s true (which has not been proven to date beyond a shadow of a doubt), they will still be far healthier than a diet with no veggies at all.

2. Once tender, mash them t satisfying consistency, and add just a little butter or skim milk to the mix. And although butter can definitely be considered a calorie dense food, remember that half a table spoon equals only 50 calories – the equivalent of roughly 6 ounces of carrot or 6 ounces of cabbage. If it makes your kids eat more veggies, go for it!

3. Feel free to add some seasoning as well if you feel it’s needed.

4. Serve next to something your kids enjoy eating.

And remember – don’t give up! Even if your kids refuse it the first time, try a different vegetable a one or two days later. I guarantee that you’ll hit the jackpot sooner rather than later.

Tip #2: Stash It!

Hiding the veggies in your kids’ favorite foods can be just as effective as mashing.

Hiding the veggies in your kids’ favorite foods can be just as effective as mashing. In fact, there is no reason why you can’t combine the two.

Something to try: mash one or two types of vegetables, or an entire bag of frozen veggies if you’re feeling adventurous, using a blender. Then hide them by seamlessly mixing them with your kids’ favorite macaroni and cheese, or using it as topping for any other salty dish they enjoy.

Tip #3: Name It!

This is a favorite of mine, and it’s actually an idea that I picked up somewhere online from a mother and grandmother.

What she would do is give different vegetables cool-sounding names. For example, she used to call Brussels sprouts “hero buttons,” which definitely got the attention of the kids.

Remember – your children are very creative human beings. Spark their creativity, and you’ll be amazed what happens.

Tip #4: Frame It!

None of the above is working for you? Try this one:

1. Go shopping with your kids and have them pick awesome drinking glasses – something they won’t be able to get their hands off of.

2. Make some vegetable juice at home and pour it into the glasses.

3. Add some ice and a fancy straw to make it even more appealing.

4. Use Tip #4 and give your new drink a cool name. The dragonfly potion? The pixie elixir? It might be time for you to check out those 7 Harry Potter tomes at this point if you’re running out of ideas for this one.

Tip #5: If Everything Fails

It’s time to go for the heavy artillery. Round your kids up in the kitchen, bring on the sternest face you can muster, and tell them that…

It’s time to make a cold vegetable pizza.

Here is something you can try – this is a recipe I found at Yummly, and it is labeled promisingly as “Kid’s Favorite Passover Pizza”

• 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce
• 2 crackers
• A pinch of garlic salt
• A pinch of oregano seasoning
• A bit of mozzarella cheese if you like
• Sliced tomato
• Black or green olives

Personally I’d add even some red paprika into the mix, but you may want to take it easy the first time around and see how they react.

Have I managed to spark your imagination just a little bit with these tips, making you want to try something new?

You can do the exact same thing with your kids now!

Good luck.

– Guest Author, Mark Nazzal, is a professional weight loss and fitness coach. You can visit his web site, for more information.