Getting little ones to eat their veggies is a struggle familiar to many (most?) parents. In fact, Australia’s National Health Survey (2020-2021) showed that more than 90% of children aged 2-17 years weren’t eating enough vegetables each day. So if it feels like you're struggling with your littles ones, you're not alone. But just because most people don’t meet the recommended amounts, doesn’t mean it’s not important to try.
You see, vegetables are not only important for giving us dietary fibre and nutrients like vitamin C, folate and magnesium (which are especially important for growing bodies!), but for reducing our risk of disease in the longer term too. In fact, there is strong evidence that regularly eating the recommended serves of vegetables can reduce your little ones’ risk of developing stroke and heart disease (among other things) later in life.
“But… how can I encourage my little one to eat more vegetables?!” you ask.
Well, luckily for you we've pulled together our 3 top tips for parents, to help them increase veggie intake in their little ones:
Note: These tips are aimed at children 2 years and over. For ideas on encouraging little ones to accept vegetables, see our article on nurturing little foodies.
Offer a vegetable snack plate before dinnerSnacks before dinner? We know… controversial. But offering vegetables when children are hungry can help them get eaten. Offering a simple platter of age-appropriate vegetables is a simple, but often effective way to encourage intake.
We love cucumber sticks, snow peas, chopped cherry tomatoes and yellow capsicum for a colourful, tasty display. Plate these up with a simple dip in the middle to make it even more enticing. If you don’t have a dip to hand, don’t worry! Mashed avocado or Greek yoghurt make perfectly good ‘dips’ for little people, and add extra nutrition to your snack plate, too.
And if your children eat loads and don’t eat much dinner? Well… at least they’ve had their veggies!
Tip: Including different colours of vegetables is not only visually appealing, it is good nutritionally too. This is because different coloured veggies tend to contain slightly different nutrients. For example, orange-coloured veg contain more carotenoids, while dark green veg contain more iron, etc. So, the advice to ‘eat a rainbow every day’ isn’t just fun, it’s scientifically sound too!
Grate vegetables into everything
Well, maybe not EVERYthing. But adding grated vegetables to sauces, stews, slices, muffins and even your morning porridge is a great way of increasing veg intake without changing your usual meal routine.
Tip: grated carrot is particularly good for adding to baked goods, as it adds great nutrition without being too watery (like zucchini), so won’t change the overall texture too much.
Utilize breakfast. (It’s not just for fruit)
We so commonly think of sweet options for breakfast, but there’s really no reason why vegetables can’t be part of a breakfast meal too.
Simple options like avocado on toast, healthy carrot muffins or zucchini fritters are great breakfast options: full of nutrition, and veggie-rich to boot.
This is particularly great for little ones that are naturally SUPER hungry (read: hangry) at breakfast time, and less so at dinner time (like mine always were!).
Let Audrey & Alfie helpAudrey & Alfie is on a mission to make eating vegetables easier for busy families with a range of veggie-rich meals and snacks (both visible & hidden) so you can s-mash those veggie needs.
Try our very veggie bundle to sample some of our veggie-based stars, or choose your own favourites from our Shop All page.