Vegetables – the one food group that can cause more people to cringe than any other. But why? Is it the because they’re often expensive? Take too long to cook? Or people don’t know how to prepare them in a tasty manner?
People consistently don’t eat enough veggies despite their important health benefits, like disease prevention and healthy weight maintenance. In 2015, only 9 percent of adults and 7 percent of children ate the recommended number of vegetable servings per day. If parents aren’t preparing and eating vegetables at home, then children certainly aren’t going to either!
Let’s change this trend by having a fun, family veggie challenge. Choose one vegetable to focus on each month, and try eating that veggie at least one or two ways each week. Research shows it can take 15-20 exposures to a new food before a child accepts it. So, by eating the same vegetable often throughout the month, your little one is more likely to decide they like it!
Broccoli is a good place to start. This vegetable may be avoided by children, but it provides a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, calcium and more. As you and your family eat more broccoli (or any other vegetable), yummy preparation is key!
Experiment With These Broccoli Recipes
- Steamed Broccoli: Keep it simple or add in other flavorings, like an Asian sauce and sesame seeds.
- Roasted Broccoli: Roast it to bring out the natural sweetness.
- Sautéed Broccoli: Add in other favorite flavorings or toppings, like bacon!
- Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry: Add broccoli to the main dish.
- Broccoli Apple Salad: Pair it with a familiar fruit in an easy-to-eat salad.
Entice Young Taste Buds to Try Broccoli with These Strategies
- Give it a fun name, like “Broccoli Trees.”
- Serve it with dips, such as ranch dressing, hummus or cheese sauce.
- Be silly. Make a face out of vegetables or ask your child to try licking the food before eating it.
- Make sure you set a good example at the table and eat your broccoli! Children will be more likely to eat it if they see you enjoy (and finish!) your vegetables.
Encourage Kids to Eat Broccoli with These Parent-Approved Tips
- “At home, we add broccoli as a staple to our kids’ favorite meals, like a rice dish with extra broccoli or broccoli with a baked or twice-baked potato. Also, our boys love to eat in restaurants. Since eating out is already a special treat, we tend to order broccoli as a side when it’s available to add a positive association.” – Kathryn, Mom of two
- “When my daughter is not excited about eating broccoli, we ask her to join the ‘Broccoli Club’! To join the club, everyone around the table puts a bite of broccoli on their fork and takes a bite together. She helps us count down: ‘One … two … three … take a bite!’ This game is even better when someone new is at the table, like a grandparent or friend.” – Liz, Mom of one
- “We chop up steamed broccoli into small, bite-sized pieces and include it in pasta sauce, soups and chili. My kids love those dishes and are more likely to eat broccoli when it’s mixed in with their favorites.” – Julie, Mom of four
Have fun with this challenge – and remember to add a new veggie to your meals every month!