Eat Your Greens! Converting Your Picky Eaters

January 24, 2017

Eat Your Greens! Converting Your Picky Eaters

Dinnertime veggie consumption: It’s the age-old battle of wills between parents and their children. (And let’s face it, a bit of an internal struggle for quite a few adults!)

Even as we know that fresh, steamed broccoli and organic wheatgrass powder are good for us, our kids’ taste buds may cry otherwise. We know that we will have healthier kids with improved mood, more energy and better immunity when they are getting the good clean vitamins and minerals their growing bodies need. The question is how do we get our kids on board so it is not an unpleasant daily struggle?

My mom’s strategy was the “rule of three.” I couldn’t leave the table until I had eaten three bites of my greens. I was fine with green beans and peas, but she loved to serve lima beans and I loved to hate them! I ended up spending plenty of Sunday afternoons at the table longing to play. The longer I resisted, the more poisonous those beans felt going down the hatch.

Today, there’s an easier way to get greens eaten by the little ones: smoothies.

I didn’t grow up during this trend, but it has been growing globally as an easier way to get your 5 recommended servings of fruits and veggies into the body. But, as delicious as the smoothie may taste, getting a child to eat something green can still be a challenge. It’s a complicated color that could represent a favorite superhero in frosting or remind them of toxic sludge salad; sometimes there is no winning.

If it were up to my three-year-old nephew, the menu would be mac n cheese…every day, three meals a day. My sister’s recent trick to get him to eat greens is through smoothies. The secret ingredient is apple, lots of apples, and calling it Hulk juice after his favorite superhero. He loves drinking it and “powering up”. Check out our favorite apple slicing tool here.

Don’t feel devious working the problem the same way a good ad agency does: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have made a comeback, and different colored smoothies could represent the crime fighting amphibians. A carrot, celery and orange drink might be a certain royal lion’s drink of choice. Make a mixed berry and spinach smoothie for red and blue space-robot fans. Specialize the drink just for the child’s interests whether it be a princess, hero, or a little fish finding his family.

“Eating the rainbow” is a simple rule of thumb for getting all the right vitamins and nutrients into your family without having to resort to google. Find sweetness and color from countless seasonal fruits and veggies and make health into a game of discovering colors...even green.

One of our favorite easy “cheats” for this is to add a scoop of organic wheatgrass powder to our smoothies. One scoop of wheatgrass is equal to consuming 2 lbs. of leafy greens! After that, even if he didn’t eat any other greens all day, you’d still feel good about your child’s greens consumption.

Now, I’ve talked a lot about the little ones, but smoothies are also great for parents too. As hard as it is to get the children to eat greens, sometimes there is so much to do, parents don’t have time for their own nutrition. It’s just as important to take time for yourself as it is for the kiddos. A smoothie can be the fastest, cheapest way to level up on vitamins and protein. Also, children love to copy; watching a parent drink a smoothie might inspire interest.

Juicers can be expensive with all the gadgets and supersonic 3000 space motors. Plus, while juicing is great for you, you’re missing out on all of that good-for-you fiber that ends up in the waste bin. If smoothies are next in line for tryouts, there are plenty of inexpensive blenders at department stores. Cheaper blenders in the $20-$30 range can last a long time by avoiding hard veggies, frozen fruit chunks or ice, taking it easy on the motor and blades. Cut or shred hard root veggies like raw carrots and beets into small bits. Chopping up fresh fruits and veggies and putting them in the refrigerator or freezer could be helpful for the coming week.

Knock out all the time-consuming prep in one sitting. Assembling a month of fruit and veggie combos in labeled serving-sized freezer bags for instant access is great, and if needed you can thaw a week’s worth of them at a time in the fridge. This way the children can do their part, helping to make the smoothies by counting or measuring ingredients. Naming favorite combinations after each one of your family members is another fun way to make a game out of smoothie drinking. “Let’s have a Jessica smoothie today and a Tommy smoothie tomorrow.”

Keep experimenting. Once your family members discover their healthy drinks of choice, not only will you be providing necessary nutrition,  you may very well find it easier to wean the household off of soda and over-processed juices while cutting down sugary snacks and curbing sweet cravings the natural way without making anyone feel deprived.

You might just discover it’s easy being green after all!


Sarah Cole is a writer, cat lover and avid tea drinker from a growing family of six. She loves green spaces, her new blender, and is saving up for a whirlwind tour of Italy with her girlfriend, Tivis.



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