Picky Eater Veggie Advice

Updated on March 04, 2011
J.M. asks from Melrose, MA
16 answers

Anyone have a magic recipe or 2 that will get 4 year old to eat veggies? i do some Jessica Seinfeld sneaky recipes but they are a pain. She will have carrots/cucumber with hummus, but doesn't like ranch. How do you get your kids to eat tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, zucchini etc? Thanks!

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answers from Appleton on

You are the parent. I was a 'mean' parent, my kids had to eat at least 2 pieces of veggie no matter what. I didn't dress it up or add sauces just a little butter, salt and pepper. It isn't easy and they could not leave the table until they ate some veggies, no excuses. But now that my kids range from 35-19 they eat all veggies, except parsnips, okra, and beets. They have raised their kids the same way and their kids eat veggies without a fight or a question. Just keep making veggies and make them eat them.
Remember parent is also a verb or action word as well as a noun.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Providence on

I haven't been too successful in the veggies department, but lately I have been putting zucchinni in the food processor and adding it to the rice I make, or adding it to chili mac. Good luck!~ i wish I could get my kid to eat carrots and cucumbers!

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answers from Fort Wayne on

I agree that those sneaky recipes are pain. I don't have time to steam, mash and puree like that.

My kids don't care for peppers or zucchini, but they love most other vegetables. I wouldn't sweat it too much, to be honest. If they like their raw veggies dipped in ranch, than what's the big deal? As long as they're eating SOME type of veggies.

You can tell them that they have to TRY at least a certain amount of bites of the vegetable before they can leave the table. It can take trying something a ton of times before they actually decide if they like it or not.

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answers from Columbus on

I put diced broccoli into macaroni & cheese. (You can find it in the frozen section.) Even if my son picks out the larger pieces, there's still tiny little shreds he can't possible get, and the taste blends really well with the cheese so it's not noticeable. Does she eat spaghetti? You can puree all kinds of veggies and hide them in the sauce. Red peppers and zucchini are also good pizza toppings, but not exactly hidden.

When summer comes, try going to a farmers market and letting them each pick one thing, then find a recipe to eat it in. I've found my son will try almost any food if he gets to "help" prepare it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

First thing would be to keep cool! Don't get in a battle with children about what they eat - this is an area where you can't win. So don't act as if it's important.

At the same time, they need to eat the good stuff. My mama did something I didn't realize was good for me until I was grown up. She would give us our salads and other "finger veggies" for a late-afternoon snack. Not having
to it at dinner made it something that was at best special and at the least inoffensive.

My DIL said she tried some of the Jessica Seinfeld recipes on her
husband - my "don't tell me what to eat" son. They seems to work with him!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Try roasting broccoli and tossing it with a little teriyaki sauce.

Actually, roasting vegetables makes them delicious. Just roast them on a sheet pan, drizzled with a little olive oil and sea salt, at about 400 degrees until they're browned and tender.

Another idea is to buy a jar of dill pickles. When the pickles are gone, don't throw away the jar or the liquid. Instead, fill the jar with raw, fresh baby carrots or slices of fresh carrots. My kids used to love them, after they sat for a couple of hours in the fridge. You can use other firm vegetables this way, too.

If your kids will eat spaghetti sauce, steam and puree carrots and add them to the sauce. If you make your own sauce, when you're cooking the onions, add in finely pureed carrots and cook them along with the onions.

Chick peas can be roasted until they're crunchy and crisp and they're delicious with a little olive oil and sea salt.

If your child doesn't like ranch dressing, what flavors does she like? Sweet, tangy, spicy? Will she have salsa? Raw vegetables with salsa are good.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

One idea if she likes pasta, buy the pasta made from vegetables. You can find them in your pasta aisle and sometimes with the organic and specialty foods.


answers from Cleveland on

My son ate broccoli first when I told him the stalks we little trees, and to munch on the leaves. He proceeded to eat just the tops (that's better than nothing!), and it has remained a favorite. The V8 fruit and vegetable juices were a backup although the sugar content is too high.

You can always make meatballs with tiny shredded carrots and zucchini. Plus it tastes quite good. Homemade chicken soups with lots of vegetables are good because even if she doesn't eat the veggies a lot of nutrients get into the broth. You could make wontons/raviolis with wonton wrappers from the produce section, fill it with ground meats/cheese/minced veggies, and cook them in broth. With a food processor its pretty quick.

Cutting large pieces of vegetables into stars worked sometimes. It always worked with fruits. He also would eat tempura'd veggies, but deep fried food always looks like a nugget. Tempura batter is so addictive and time consuming, Mommy can't do that too much.

Mostly, I think some kids are just picky, but if you eat the foods in front of your daughter and keep trying without pushing too hard, she will eventually try. My son who used to only eat hot dogs, nuggets, and pizza recently requested broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, apples, salad with poppyseed dressing, and a fresh coconut to try the milk. Never would have thought it possible...he made the transition himself. I think they have to get used to more complex flavors which in a way is good, at least it seems less likely a child would ingest something harmful in error if it tastes yucky and she is picky. Maybe it's Mother Nature's evolutionary way of making sure kids don't try things they shouldn't.



answers from Boston on

Here are a few ideas...Chicken quesadillas with spinach (the taco cheese helps mask the taste of the spinach); add spinach to a quiche; grilled cheese with tomato; grilled cheese with zucchini; mac'n' cheese made with frozen butternut squash (the squash will get a little stringy, but the coloring blends nicely with the yellow cheese-my son doesn't even realize there's a veggie in there). We also play games about making "combos" on our fork or spoon (like chicken, broccoli and potato, etc.). Good luck!



answers from Boston on

carrots and cucumbers is huge. be thankful for that!

my daughter eats peas almost everyday. i buy them frozen and throw them in with her lunch, regardless of what that is...usually chix nuggets. by lunchtime they are thawed and she can eat them with her fingers which makes them fun. She used to eat green beans b/c we told her they were green french fries, unfortunately she caught on to that one : )



answers from Boston on

Luckily my son (just turned 5) eats most veggies. When he was 2 he wouldn't touch them and then we figured out that he likes them raw only (except for things you don't eat raw like edamame). He does have a thing about trying new foods, but this has worked recently: I've said to him "Taste buds change as you grow up. One day you could hate spinach leaves, and the next POW you like them. So every now and then I will give you something I know you've tried before to try again, and the rule will be that you take one bite to see if your taste buds have changed yet." Thus far he has been accepting of this. He has re-tried mixed greens several times )so far he's only discovered that he like romaine, but he keeps trying), broccoli (and every time he trys that he switches between liking the stem and the tops NEVER both) and he consistently hates cauliflower and tomatoes.

Also, when the weather gets better, try growing some veggies. My son went GAGA over the cukes, broccoli and baby carrots from our garden last year. And he tried the tomatoes at least a dozen times ( and still doesn't like them!)

The important part is to keep offering them, and let her see you eating and enjoying veggies. And encourage her to keep trying. HTH!



answers from Boston on

My only suggestion is to just keep trying- different veggies, different preparations. All kids are different, so just find the things that she does like & keep serving those regularly, and experiment with others.

My kids like broccoli and zucchini, but only when I buy the frozen ones & heat them up in the microwave... they don't like them raw, or when I buy raw & cook them myself. Only one of my kids likes tomatoes - she'll eat the cherry or grape tomatoes, & calls them berries. Spinach, two of my kids will devour if I cook it with scrambled eggs.

And keep eating lots of veggies yourself! My kids are usually more excited about eating veggies when it's something they're swiping from my plate or my cutting board.



answers from Johnstown on

I'm like ReverendRuby--I make mine eat them. Period. I don't care if they "like" them. You eat what's put infront of you or you don't eat. We don't have the money to make "fun" food all of the time. We eat what's healthy and filling.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Just keep trying. There are lots and lots of veggies out there. Try raw and cooked. Let him pick them out at the supermarket. Let him pick out seeds for you to start in the garden. DS (just turned 5) will try almost anything he has helped to prepare. Also I think it helps if you don't make a big deal of them, just make them a normal part of every meal you are eating. DS will often eat his veggies when he is no longer concentrating on eating, we are talking towards the end of the meal and he just starts putting them in his mouth.


answers from Allentown on

My kids love smoothies. Although I've never tried it, I heard you can sneak spinach or kale in there!

Also, don't overlooked sweeter veggies like squash/pumpkin/sweet potatoes. They can be pureed with applesauce or some bananas to make a tasty snack. Let them add their own "special spices" (aka cinnamon) and they'll love it.

Best wishes!



answers from Philadelphia on

I thinly slice tomato and mozzarella with some salt, pepper and basil. Then I lightly toast some bread with olive oil and garlic on it. It is so delicious. Maybe he would like that?

Green peppers, i sneak into tomato sauce. I use the food processor to mince them well. I also chop them really fine into sausage and peppers and a few other dishes. It is the big chunks of them that my little ones dont like.

If i sautee broccoli with some olive oil and salt/pepper they seem to like it. Another way to do a raw broccoli (instead of dipped in ranch) is a pasta salad. You can chop it small and put just about anything in there :) I as an adult prefer my veggies raw, so i love to do it this way :)

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