Get Your Kid to Eat More Vegetables

Encourage your child to try something new by breaking out of your standard vegetable routine. Use these ideas to sauce, roast, spice, and shape your way to an extra serving or two of veggies a day.

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Pair Veggies With Fruit

Tara Donne

Pair Veggies With Fruit

Most children prefer fruit over vegetables. So if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Strawberries + Asparagus
Combine 1 cup sliced strawberries with 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella and 2 cups cooked asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces. Toss lightly with balsamic vinaigrette.

Apples + Cabbage
Thinly slice red or green apples and toss with shredded Napa cabbage in a dressing made of equal parts olive oil and apple-cider vinegar. Use to top sandwiches or soba noodles.

Mangoes + Bell Peppers
Combine strips of fresh mango with strips of red and yellow peppers. Roll up in a spinach tortilla with hummus or whipped cream cheese.

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Add Vegetables to Smoothies

Tara Donne

Add Vegetables to Smoothies

When your kid won't eat his vegetables, why not try adding them to a smoothie? Each of these recipes makes 2 cups; mix all ingredients in a blender until they reach desired consistency.

Pink
4 cups cubed watermelon, frozen
1 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup milk
A little lime juice

Orange
1-1/2 cups diced mango
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup ice

Green
1 cup refrigerated light coconut milk
1 apple (cored and sliced)
1 cup baby kale
1 cup green grapes

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Cut Veggies in Fun Shapes

Tara Donne

Cut Veggies in Fun Shapes

Transform these veggies into something a whole lot cuter -- no cookie cutter required.

Bell-Pepper Clovers: Slice a green bell pepper widthwise to reveal the shape.

Sweet-Potato Strings: Use a spiral slicer to crank out veggie "noodles."

Patty-Pan Posies: Cut this variety of yellow or green summer squash for a natural flowery outline. Use a strip of squash for a stem, if desired.

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Play With Texture

Tara Donne

Play With Texture

For Celery Crunchers: Try raw jicama, sliced turnips, or small radishes.

For Mashed-Potato Fans: Try mashed cauliflower. Add a head (cut into florets) and a peeled diced parsnip to a pot with 2 Tbs. olive oil and 1/2 tsp. salt over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup milk; bring to a boil. Reduce to low. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until tender. Puree in a blender. Season to taste.

For French-Fry Buffs: Try making fries out of carrots, beets, turnips, or sweet spuds. Peel veggies and cut them into 3-inch sticks. Toss with olive oil; bake in the oven at 450°F for 20 to 40 minutes, based on hardness of the veggie. Finish with sea salt.

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Try Something Unusual

Tara Donne

Try Something Unusual

These veggies may be just mysterious enough to entice your child to sample them when they're in season.

(From top to bottom)
Romanesco cauliflower looks extraterrestrial. Quarter and serve with dill dip (on the next slide!)

Ask your kid to taste a candy-cane beet: Peel, slice thinly, and toss with olive oil, chopped Italian parsley, chopped nuts, and a little feta or other cheese.

Um, what are those purple things shaped like carrots? Purple carrots, duh! They were common until a few centuries ago and now they're making a comeback. Cook as usual (their color won't fade); try roasting with thyme. Or just serve raw with a creamy dip.

If your child despises the stringiness of regular celery, try celery root instead. Peel it, then grate it and toss in a salad with carrots and apples.

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Healthy Snacks: Veggie Pancakes

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Add a Dip

Anne Kitzman/Shutterstock

Add a Dip

Plenty of veggies will be heading your kid's way -- if you serve them with a sauce on the side. In a survey of 400 Parents readers with children ages 2 to 10, nearly half reported that offering vegetables with dip makes their child more likely to eat them. Don't limit yourself to ranch dressing -- and offer these homemade dips with sliced 'shrooms, artichoke hearts, and broccoli florets.

Red Bean: 1/2 cup sour cream + 1/2 cup mashed red beans + 1/8 tsp. each salt and pepper

Green Onion: 1 cup whipped cream cheese + 1 chopped green onion

Honey Butter: 1/2 cup almond butter + 1 Tbs. honey + 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Dill: 1 tsp. dill + 1 Tbs. parsley + 1/8 tsp. salt + 1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Curry: 1 cup plain yogurt + 1 tsp. curry powder + 1/4 tsp. salt

White Bean and Spinach: 1 cup mashed white beans + 1/4 cup chopped spinach + 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice + 3 Tbs. water + 1/8 tsp. salt

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Add Surprising Sweetness

Tara Donne

Add Surprising Sweetness

1. Cinnamon
This spice is sugar-free but it enhances the natural sweetness of vegetables. Combine cinnamon with roasting, which brings out the flavor even more. Toss together 1 lb. baby carrots, 1 Tbs. olive oil, 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Roast on a foil-lined baking sheet at 400°F for 30 minutes.

2. Light Coconut Milk
Even though it contains just 4 grams of sugar per cup, its creaminess makes it taste sweeter than it actually is. In a large skillet, combine about 1 lb. mixed veggies (peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots), 1 cup light coconut milk, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 7 minutes or until tender.

3. Pure Vanilla Extract
A teaspoon has only about 1/2 gram of sugar, and its flavor adds appeal to savory dishes too. Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 Tbs. raspberry-wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Drizzle half of the dressing over 4 cups mixed baby greens and 1 cup halved grapes. Store remaining dressing in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Have Fun With Vegetables

Tara Donne

Have Fun With Vegetables

For your next playdate or party, create this "crocomole" that's served at the Bean Sprouts Cafés in four California cities, including L.A., and watch the kids chomp, chomp, chomp:

Cut an avocado in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides and keep the peels. In a blender, combine avocado, 1/2 cup hummus, 1 cup spinach leaves, and 1 tsp. lemon juice until smooth. Divide the guacamole between the two avocado halves. Add zucchini slices and sliced black olives for eyes as well as carrots for teeth. Serve with raw veggies. If desired, arrange the veggies to form the croc's body.

Originally published in the July 2015 issue of Parents magazine.