I remember resisting vegetables when I was little. Looking back, though, I realize that it's because the vegetables I was offered were often boiled, mushy, colorless facsimiles of the good stuff. Some general ideas for getting off on the right foot:
- Roast! Roasting adds lots of flavor without adding seasoning and salt. Salt, it turns out, is highly addictive to babies and toddlers. So, if they become accustomed to salted foods (including vegetables) when they're young, they will be more resistant to eating non-salty foods as they grow. Try roasting chunks of carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips... you name it, really! Toss in olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your veggie. If a particular vegetable doesn't seem to soften enough with roasting alone, try lightly steaming first, then roasting. Which brings us to...
- Steam! Steaming keeps much more of the nutrients, texture, and taste intact than does boiling. Get a cheap steamer insert for your pot, bring about 1/2 inch of water to a boil, then steam your veggies, covered, until tender.
- Dehydrate! If your toddler is into snacking on crunchy finger foods, try making chips out of kale, sweet potatoes, even beets! Slice them thin with a knife or mandolin, toss in oil, then bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Add a little nutritional yeast for extra tastiness.
Here are some ideas my own toddler has liked for each meal of the day:
Breakfast: Scramble egg yolk with full fat Greek yogurt and a handful of chopped spinach.
Lunch: Make what we call broccoli buddies: bite-sized "cookies" made of a mixture of chopped fresh or frozen broccoli with whole wheat bread crumbs, shredded cheddar, and eggs, baked at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. For more detail, check out the Broccoli and Cheese Nuggets at Wholesome Baby Food. You will eat them too, I promise!
Dinner: Tyler Florence's Cauliflower Gratin is one of my 16-month-old son's favorites. From Florence's book, Start Fresh, this particular recipe is available online but I'd recommend purchasing the book for more great ideas on veggies for toddlers.
Snack: Try making a smoothie of banana, a handful of fresh spinach, and full fat greek yogurt. The result is sweet, but you can even add a touch of honey and cinnamon. The veggie chips mentioned above are a great snack, too.
Readers, what tips do you recommend for helping your toddler to love vegetables?
Related: Family Mealtime: Cooking for Babies
It's Reader Request Week at The Kitchn! This post was requested by HACB.
(Image: Cheryl of Backseat Gourmet)