Children aged one to four should ideally be eating five child-size serves of veggies a day and from the ages of four to eight the recommendation jumps to 4.5 adult-size serves a day (a child-size serve doubled). From age nine onwards the goal is five or more serves of veggies daily.
As well as playing an important role in everything from maintaining a healthy immune system, improved gut health and skin health, bone health, eye health and heart health, the high fibre and low calorie content in vegetables help children feel fuller for longer and maintain a healthy weight.
Don’t despair if getting your child to eat their greens is like pulling teeth. Below are my tried and tested tricks for getting even the fussiest of eaters to smash their daily targets and increase variety in no time:
Repeated exposure to veggies from early on, is the best way to avoid fussy eating. Always give your child a chance to experience the true flavour of foods, even when you face initial rejection. Their little tastebuds are forever changing, and what is not eaten today might become their firm favourite in the future.
Be a role model.
It’s important to hide any exasperation, particularly with older children. Try to focus on being the role model at family dinners instead. When your child sees you snacking on baby carrots or having salad day after day, it may not be too long before a little hand reaches in, to swipe some up for themselves.
When my kids were going through a particularly fussy stage with broccoli, one day I decided to climb onto the kitchen table and do a crazy dance every time they took a bite. It worked! They were both laughing so hard they forgot about disliking the taste. A green bean can become a wriggly worm, a piece of cauliflower is a cloud and a carrot is a snowman’s nose. Get creative and your kids will eat.
Here are five of my fail-safe veggie recipes that my kids love and are good for them too. Work within the framework of your child’s favourite foods. There is nothing wrong with bumping up recipes with hidden veggies, as long as you offer the same veggies to your child in their raw state too.