If you want to put kale into a smoothie for your kids, by all means, go for it but tell them there is kale in there. Better yet, have them put it in.
As much fun as it can be to "hide" spinach in brownies (I had a great girlfriend who was very proud of doing just that), the question, then, becomes: do you want your kids to remember brownies or spinach when they grow up?
Let me back up a little to explain where I am going with this. I believe that, as parents, we are ultimately responsible for teaching our kids to treat their bodies well when they grow up.
Good nutrition is important at any age but it becomes crucial when our metabolism slows down naturally as we age, and our bodies become less capable of bouncing back from a nutrient poor meal.
Do you remember your college days of little sleep, suboptimal food choices and, yet, surprisingly decent health and good looking skin? Things certainly change when we "grow up:" our cell regeneration slows down dramatically, our enzyme production is slower as well. That is when we need to remember to treat our bodies well.
So, again, what do we want our kids to remember: brownies or spinach? If our kids never knew there was spinach in that brownie, how would they know to love spinach and how would they understand not to indulge in that brownie? After all, Mom made it and even said it was "good for them..."
Let me make myself clear: I am not trying to tell you we cannot or should not make treats for our kids. Treats can be for kids. But tricks don't need to be. If you want your kids to love eating vegetables, feed them vegetables away from their "treats," and just the way vegetables come. Kids are frequently smarter than we give them credit for. They are able to make the distinction between foods that make them feel good and foods that make them tired and cranky.
Here are just a couple of tips for helping your kids love their vegetables
- Feed them fresh and local. This may be as simple as enjoying what your local farmers' market has to offer and not stressing much if your kids are not willing to eat vegetable out of season. My kids love almost any fresh local vegetable and impressively refuse to eat almost any vegetable when bought out of season. They adore summer tomatoes (yes, I know, it is a fruit, strictly speaking) but will make a face at/ spit out a tomato bought during winter. Kids are smart and their bodies can tell them which foods are nutritionally superior. Out of season vegetable frequently do not taste very good and kids' taste buds are still very young and "bright," which is a good thing.
- Chop up some veggies and set them on a plate right before dinner time. This will "hold over" your hungry little people and buy you a little more dinner prep time. And even if there is no "prep time" and pizza is what's for dinner tonight, you can feel good knowing your kids have had fresh vegetables before that meal. Fresh raw vegetables are full of digestive enzymes which means that even a pizza coming afterwards will be a lot more gentle on your kids' digestion. Believe it or not, these fresh veggies before dinner also just might "buy" your kids more happy digestion time when they are grown ups.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Please share your best tips (not tricks:-)) for getting your kids to love their vegetables!
© 2015 Trillium Nutrition LLC. All Rights Reserved. By reading my blog and email series, you acknowledge that I am not a licensed psychologist or health care professional and my services do not replace the care of psychologists or other healthcare professionals. I will at all times exercise my best professional efforts, skills and care. However, I cannot guarantee the outcome of recommendations on my website/blog/email series and my comments about the outcome are expressions of opinion only. Some of the links contained here may be affiliate links. This means that I may receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase from the affiliate, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and services that I know or trust to be of high quality, whether an affiliate relationship is in place or not.