I'm pretty sure kids have hated vegetables since the beginning of time. One of these days anthropologists will unearth new cave paintings depicting families eating dinner together, and there, between the fire and the spear, will be a pictograph of a kid refusing to try his spinach. That's the kid mine descended from, at least.
I really try not to hate the moms who say, "Oh, vegetables? I just stick anything I can into Sally's sandwich, and she eats it." That's great for little Sally, but not every kid wolfs down Caesar salad and roasted cauliflower voluntarily. Luckily, there's usually one vegetable (or two, if you're lucky) that even the pickiest kid will eat. For mine, it's edamame (this week, at least). So there's hope.
We asked 10 moms to tell us about the vegetable (or vegetables!) their kids eat, and how. Read on to learn how cutting zucchini differently, offering up new dips for carrots, or involving them in the cooking process can motivate even the most die-hard veggie hater. (Also, you should probably try cooking artichokes.)
1. Cucumbers are always a hit in our house for some reason, even though they're not my favorite. My kids don't even ask for dips with them! But they love it when they can come in unusual shapes and sizes. —Erica, physician, mom of three
2. Our 6-year-old will eat anything we grow in our garden, so that's a great way to work in new foods. —Kim, stay-at-home mom of two
3. Our youngest really likes salads. I know she is in it for the dressing, but she will eat a good-sized salad if she enjoys the dressing. We have several different flavors of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. She will help make the dressing, which is a fun way to get her to eat some greens. —Rachel, clinical social worker, mom of 2
4. My daughter will eat any veggie. What surprised me most was her love of artichokes. Foods that are fun to eat are a hit with her. My other kid likes raw veggies — he's the crudité kid. —Karly, clinical psychologist, mom of two
5. My kids eat sautéed zucchini, with just olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. BUT it has to be cut in a certain way. It won't work if it's sliced into rounds, or chopped into chunks. When I cut it into thin pieces about 1/4-inch thick by 2 or 3 inches long, the kids gobble it up. It's weird. —Jennifer, architect, mom of two
6. She eats CARROTS! Only raw, and sometimes she likes to dip them in peanut butter. She will also, on occasion, eat edamame and corn, but likes them less and less each time. She says she'd like to eat more veggies but every time she tries them, they end up in the napkin or garbage, so we just stick to carrots. —Leslie, management consultant, mom of two
7. Strangely enough, even my pickier younger child loves artichokes — probably because of the melted butter for dipping and because they're fun to eat. The two kids will race their way to the middle of the artichoke and then slather the heart in butter before devouring. —Kate, Japanese translator, mom of two
8. My daughter loves sautéed kale! She will eat a giant bowl of kale with just a touch of olive oil. She likes it so it has a bit of crisp to it, but no salt or any other spice added. —Betsey, capital program manager, mom of two
9. Our son dependably digs into a ripe avocado half with a spoon without complaint — but eating it straight out of the peel with that spoon is the trick! —Jessica, writer, mom of one
10. Our daughter loves peas! She will eat a whole big bowlful if we put olive oil and balsamic vinegar on them. In fact, she will eat most vegetables this way. She also really likes steamed artichokes. We are pretty fortunate to not have to fight a big vegetable battle. —Lisa, clinical psychologist, mom of one