Getting Your Kids to Eat Green

Updated on April 29, 2012
J.D. asks from San Diego, CA
20 answers

My 3.5 year old hasn't had a green vegetable, other than in a smoothie, in a year! He won't even try a PEA!! I am worried he is missing out on valuable nutrients. Any ideas?

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answers from Sarasota on

I second the Bolthouse dressings. We love the ranch and balsamic vinaigrette. When I make cooked veggies I steam them in homemade chicken stock. It's adds tons of flavor without putting butter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My 3.5 year old son is the same way. He won't eat much in the way of fruits and veggies, and he gets constipated sometimes. One of the best ways for me to get him to eat it is to put it in muffins. I make whole wheat muffins, add flax seed meal into the batter, and put a ton of grated zucchinis and apples into it. I don't put much sugar into the batter. My son will eat these for breakfast, and he also considers these muffins a dessert. He will also eat spinach if I add it to his spaghetti sauce. Good luck!

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answers from San Antonio on

Our now 4 yr old is required to taste one bite at least. He'll look at the spinach and say "eww" and when he tastes it, he'll finish his plate.

I agree to try raw and cooked. My son loves raw broccili, does not like steamed broccili.

Try new dips. Use the veg to help you. ie: italian, thousand island, ranch. Have a fun taste test night with new veggies and new dips. Be imaginative and make-believe that you're in a new planet or you are a chef and your son is the critic. Give him a notepad with a picture of each food on it and have him rate it each taste with a 'thumbs up' 'thumbs down' or 'thumb to the side i may want to try it again.'

make it fun?? Make mini ka-bobs using toothpicks. Put a couple peas on it and see if he can stab the 'green balls' with his toothpick.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Green vegetables were always a part of our meals....... my children were expected to eat what I supplied.

If they didn't eat their meal, they didn't get any other food until the next meal. (They didn't go completely hungry, since there were several things on the plate... but if they decided to not "like" the veggie, they didn't get any snacks or anything until the next meal.)

A few times of seeing everyone else eat snacks/dessert, and they decided to eat what I provided.

My children (now in their 20's) are all adventurous eaters... one is studying to become a chef! (One daughter is more picky than the others, but she has her own family now.)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Keep offering all kinds of veggies daily. He has to eat 2 bites before he can leave the table. I did this with my kids and I had very stubborn kids falling asleep at the table -- but they learned to eat their veggies. Yes I was mean.
Now that they are all grown up they eat almost every veggie out there.

One thing though you have to eat them too and keep saying how yummy they are.
I never allowed anyone to say a food item was yukky in my home. I don't care who they are --- you can tell your kids that carrots or green beans are yummy but the minute someone else joins you for dinner and says oh yuk green beans your kids will stop eating them. I always told my kids I fixed healthy and good meals for them, I would not feed them anything yukky, and they were going to eat them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Ranch Dressing, better known in our house as "dip".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fargo on

I read somewhere that kids need to be introduced to a new food something like 10-15 times before they get used to it. That's a VERY loose paraphrase on the actual study, but the whole point is that you keep putting the food on the child's plate and NOT pushing them to try it, and after awhile, they just eat the food given to them.

This did actually work for my son. He is very, very picky, but now he eats any vegetable or fruit that we put in front of him, with the exception of squash and bananas (he truly hates them, and I don't see why I would have to force that). His favorite veggie is fresh spinach leaves, so I count that as a huge success! :)

Good luck to you! I have been in your position and I worried too! In the meantime, though, I gave my son a good vitamin to make up for anything he lacked. Keep on trying! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Try adding salt and butter. There is a reason why they make food so tasty. Don't go overboard and as he gets used to eating vegetables you can wean him off the salt and butter.

Someone suggested on this site one time to have your kids in the kitchen while you prepare a meal from cutting, chopping to cooking, so they can smell the food through the whole prep process, and their palate might be more open to accepting new smells and tastes. I always thought that was good advice.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Try getting him to eat raw veggies instead of cooked. My brother used to eat raw peas but not cooked.

Otherwise, if you can hide them in other things, who cares? He's eating them! He may get more adventurous as he gets older.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

Keep trying. I think as long as you hit on one "green" they like, it will buy you time until they grow. One of my son's loved broccoli and one loved peas. Good luck, you're not alone....



answers from Las Vegas on

What if you grow some vegetables together? Peas, broccoli, zucchini, spinach, it all tastes better when you grow it fresh, and he might feel more willing to try it since he helped it grow. My son is the same age and normally eats everything, but goes through phases where he doesn't want something. When he gets like that I just offer other things I know he will eat, and we share a large fruit smoothie (that includes veggies like spinach or kale and carrots with whatever fruit we have on hand) several times a week. Have him try other colored veggies too, purple cabbage is fun, sweet potatoes, etc.


answers from Biloxi on

I always let my son pick out anything he wanted when we were grocery shopping - but only in the produce department. LOL It was his area in the store to shop in, and we wound up trying many things that I thought he would never eat. He also helped me plan menus, and I had him help in the kitchen. We would try veggies raw while cooking them, then compare the taste after they were cooked.

I always serve a veggie with every meal - we have been known to have sandwiches and a veggie for dinner, scrambled eggs and a veggie, whatever and a veggie. Makes for some weird dinners, but keeps it balanced.

Do try seasoning the veggies with different flavors - we love olive oil and basil on green beans. I don't use a lot of salt so we experiment with various herbs. Tarragon is wonderful on peas; as a treat I put a sprinkle of brown sugar on carrots.

Continue offering up the veggies with every meal - maybe offer them first - as an "appetizer". My son would fill up on starches if I let him (even now at 16ish) so I tend to limit those offerings - when he was little I served him the protein and veggie first, and used the starch as "dessert". Yes, mashed potatoes can be dessert :)

Also, what about casseroles? They are great for hiding things in. Try fresh, frozen and canned veggies. My son eats some fresh, and some canned, but has never liked many frozen veggies - he says it is a texture thing.

Just keep offering them up, make a big deal about how yummy they are while you eat them - offer some from your plate - other people's food often "tastes" better.

Good Luck



answers from Phoenix on

Try giving him the peas still frozen. I have a friend who swears by that trick. Not sure, but maybe there is something treat-like about something frozen? Maybe the flavor is a bit toned down by a frozen tongue?? Maybe a little of both?? She has had success with frozen peas, frozen green beans, and mixed veggies.



answers from New York on

It it is nutrition you are concerned about, there are tons of ways of mixing in veg and making them inconspicuous. pureed veg such as the following:
Cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms can be added to mac & cheese, and to mashed potatoes.
carrots, mushroom, cauliflower, spinach, sweet potatoes can be added to spaghetti sauce.
all sorts of veg can be grated and added to meatloaf, turkey burgers, and into taco stuffing.
a number of veg can be put into baked goods such as cookies, muffins and cakes.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.



answers from San Francisco on

My son will eat broccili, zucchini, and cauliflower raw; but not cooked. He says all 3 of them have a horrible taste when cooked (no matter what I try to season them with) but not raw. Prior to serving them raw we struggled with it all the time and I was hiding the veggies in smoothies etc. I myself cant stand cooked zucchini, no matter how it is cooked, but when its raw - he is right; there is not a strong taste at all. I started with every other night. I would put a bowl of raw veggies on the table and told him he had to eat one of each or no TV later that night. The next night he got a break. That seemed to work for us.


answers from Los Angeles on

Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables is a DVD designed to get young children (under 5) to learn to love to eat fruits and vegetables.

"A joy-filled video and an innovative tool for parents who want to get children to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables."



answers from Santa Barbara on

I feel for you. My kids are 8 & 11. My older one now eats most veggies grudgingly (except squash, which she loves). However, my 8-year old will not eat anything green except plain, raw spinach leaves or smoothies into which I blend spinach leaves. She eats plenty of fruits and loves carrots. I just make sure she gets some type of veggies every day, but I make a *lot* of smoothies. Eventually, they'll grow out of it...I hope!


answers from Lakeland on

Keep giving them. Put some on his plate every night at dinner even if he doesn't eat them right away. I would also try to get him to drink Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness smoothie (or one of the other brands). My daughter eats most of her green veggies, but I give her the juice too and she loves it.



answers from Los Angeles on

We use my little Cuisanart and put zucchini in eggs in the am. Can't even taste it. My kids discovered that they like Broccoli slightly steamed with salt.

We have them help and once they do, they are more interested in eating them. We also started with veggies, rather than fruits and we never gave them rice cereal or any other grains when they were first eating solid foods.



answers from Dallas on

Green veggies have a very strong taste that can overwhelm kiddos - they have ALL their taste buds. Many of ours have died off, so what tastes fine to us, is too much for them. You have to disguise it. I'm a bit lucky cause my son likes peas and edamame, and pickles (not sure if that counts LOL). He'll even eat broccoli sometimes :)

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