We know parents stress about making healthy meals for kids. While it may be difficult to get your kids to eat more vegetables (or grown ups, for that matter), it can be done. Here are four easy tips that will help both adults and children eat better veggie-packed meals and enjoy them.
1. Prep Vegetables in Advance
The last thing you probably feel like doing when you get home from the store or farmers market is to wash and prep your veggies. But you’re more likely to pull them out for veggie chips or incorporate them into meals if they’re all ready to roll. Use a colander to quickly wash vegetables and tomatoes, and chop kale or other hearty greens to use in salads, scrambles or grain bowls.
2. Make Veggies More Accessible
Properly storing your vegetables in an organized and clean fridge is a great way to make sure your veggies are easy to find. What's the best way to keep them neatly contained? A Greensaver Produce Keeper helps preserve the life of fruits and veggies and also corral them all into their own compartments. This tool also allows your child to get involved. Moving things from one container to another is a great way to keep kids busy in the kitchen and out of your hair.
3. Tweak Your Favorite Recipes
If you feel adverse to sneaking vegetables into your child's meal, try talking to them about which greens are being added to each recipe. Whether you're substituting cauliflower for rice or sweet potatoes into pancakes, it’s less about hiding, and more about incorporating veggies into lunch and dinner ideas your little one already likes.
4. Put Veggies on Every Plate
Putting different veggies on a plate is a good reminder to keep shooting for variety, even if your kiddo won’t eat them right off the bat. The variety and exposure is important and, eventually, will likely lead to some sneaky little tastes and, hopefully, some new affinities.
Recipe: Pasta with Creamy Spinach Pesto and Peas
A simple spring recipe for adults and kids alike, this tasty pasta features a nut-free pesto so everyone, regardless of allergies, can enjoy it. It packs in spinach and peas, and even incorporates some protein thanks to the ricotta and Parmesan cheese. Depending on how much pesto you like on your noodles, you’ll likely have a little leftover for a veggie dip or sandwich spread throughout the week.
- 1 1/2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
- 1 1/2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
- 1 pound fusilli pasta (or your favorite shape pasta)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Make the pesto: In the bowl of a food processor, puree the basil, spinach, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Add the ricotta and lemon zest, and pulse to incorporate, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. If the texture is too thick, add olive oil, one tablespoon at a time. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as needed.
- Make the pasta: Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl, tossing with olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
- Add 1 cup of pesto to the pasta and stir well to incorporate. Fold in the peas and Parmesan. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired. Add additional pesto if desired. Serve warm or room temperature.