Few toddlers reach for veggies and enjoy variety in their diet. It often takes multiple exposures to new foods before small children begin to like them. Until then, you can ramp up your tot's intake of vegetables by sneaking them into his diet. Here's how.
Try veggie drinks. Many fruit/veggie juice blends and smoothies taste sweet but still contain a full serving of vegetables. Look for ones without added sugar. To make a healthful fruit and veggie smoothie at home, combine a cup of frozen red raspberries, eight baby carrots, and a cup of plain yogurt in that order in a blender and blend on high. If it seems too thick, add a little apple juice.
Serve veggie-based soup. Cooked into a soup, the vegetables won't seem as obvious to some children.
MAKE IT FUN!
Make veggies fun. Float fish-shaped crackers in tomato or squash soup. Make "ants on a log" (peanut butter stuffed celery with raisins on top) for bigger kids. Arrange a pile of pepper strips into a little log cabin for your family to dismantle and eat.
Offer tasty dip--make that dips--for raw vegetables. If your little one has several dips to try, that means she'll eat more veggies if you enforce "you dip it, you bite it" as a rule. Try traditional dips like hummus, ranch dressing, spinach dip, honey mustard and Greek yogurt, but also kid favorites like apple sauce and nut butter. As a bonus, you can blend pureed or finely grated veggies INTO dips like hummus.
Provide a variety of veggies. Some kids tend to tire of one taste quickly. It may be easier to eat a little salad, a few pepper strips and a few cooked carrots at a meal than a huge pile of salad. Instead of serving the same four or five veggies, offer ones yet untried.
Enlist his help. Letting your older child help you select, prepare and serve vegetables can help pique interest in eating them.
Cook vegetables. Many developing taste buds can't seem to handle raw vegetables. That's okay. They'll likely want them more when they're older. If raw won't happen now, focus on steamed vegetables.
Go camouflage. Puree steamed vegetables and blend them into sauces, such as tomato sauce. To make it easier, make a big batch of puree you can freeze in ice cube trays and store in freezer bags. Whenever you want to ramp up your meal's nutrition--and flavor--pop a few cubes into the spaghetti sauce, gravy or soup stock.
Don't make food a battleground. Sometimes, a child needs time to get used to a new taste. Forcing him to eat a food really isn't worth the effort.