XOMU: How to get your kids to eat more veggies
And by "your kids" I mean you, a grown adult. No judgment.
My first Whole30 in April 2009 taught me how to cook vegetables, which taught me how to love vegetables. (Roasting or grilling. That’s always the answer.) Growing up my parents focused heavily on The Big Three: potatoes, corn, and peas. I had never liked tomatoes, Brussels, or broccoli, and never even tried cauliflower or kale.
Today, I love veggies more than fruit (don’t @ me) and I find my plates are more colorful and varied than ever. But still, I’m not always in the mood to eat my greens. I do not want to stare down a huge heap of spinach on my breakfast plate most mornings, and sometimes at dinner I’m not hungry enough to eat the fiber-rainbow.
I’m not even remotely picky, I know how to cook veggies well, and I actually enjoy eating them—but even I look for ways to boost my veggie intake. If you happen to be, ahem, selective, are new to cooking, or have not-fond memories of your mom’s soggy, overcooked Brussels, you need this info too. Here are my best tricks—and yes, they work great for kids too.
Chop them small
I’m sensitive to food textures, which is why it’s easier for me to eat ground meat than a steak. A big serving of steamed spinach, zucchini, and onion goes down easier for me when it’s thoroughly mixed into other stuff that offers a more solid texture.
Dice some mixed veggies; I like bell pepper, sweet onion, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, and baby spinach. Sauté them all together, then toss them into a big pile of ground meat or scrambled eggs. (If you’re plant-based, use a faux ground “meat” or tofu “eggs.”) I can eat a LOT of veggies this way—and a good variety too. Plus, my kid doesn’t even notice the mushrooms when they’re mixed in like that.
Hack them with Daily Harvest
I’m not plant-based. I eat meat with every meal. But I still order Daily Harvest’s Whole30 Edits—because they help me increase my veggie diversity effortlessly. Their bowls, bakes, and soups are full of plants, seasoned and cooked beautifully, and allow me to throw a meal together in two minutes by adding my own cooked protein.
Take their version of an herbed artichoke spinach dip—gigante beans (which I love but would never make myself), crisp asparagus, and tender artichokes (I cannot cook these, it’s like eating a tree stump) tossed in a cauliflower chickpea sauce with nutritional yeast, garlic, and an herb-y hemp seed sprinkle.
Top this dish with some shrimp or chicken and it’s gourmet city, and I’m eating veggies I otherwise wouldn’t, prepared by someone who actually knows how to prepare artichoke not like a tree stump. It’s a winner whether you’re plant-based or not.
Easy plant-based meals for summer with Daily Harvest
Whether you’re joining us for the Plant-Based Whole30 in May or just want to include more plant diversity in your diet, the Plant-Based Whole30 Edit from Daily Harvest makes all of it easy. The Edit features 14 chef-crafted Bowls, Bakes, Soups, and Smoothies designed for effortless variety and maximum wow-factor. Hand-selected by a team of nutritionists from Whole30 and Daily Harvest, the Edit was created to make your life easy—no shopping, chopping, or prepping required.
In one delivery, you’ll receive 14 items that feature a range of veggies, fruits, and plant-based proteins—more than you’d ever be able to bring home from a trip to the grocery store. And Daily Harvest’s chef-crafted meals are undeniably delicious, featuring flavors and combinations you’ll look forward to eating. Not always plant-based? Just add your own protein to their Bowls, Bakes, or Soups for an immediately delicious, veggie-forward meal!
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Blend them into soup
I don’t often eat a pile of carrots or tomatoes, but I’ll eat a ton of them if they’re blended into a sippable soup. Butternut squash, potato, carrot, tomato, cabbage, greens like kale or spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower make an amazing soup base that you can serve alongside a meal or as your meal—just add cooked shrimp, chicken, beef, lentils, beans, or chickpeas.
I’ve also discovered cold soups, which are incredible in summer. Spring peas, cucumbers, green or red tomatoes, bell pepper, zucchini, beets—all of these veggies can form the base for a beautiful cold soup, served with a healthy fat (like avocado or plant-based yogurt) or a bit of protein as a refreshing between-meal snack or side dish for dinner. Some of these don’t even require cooking!
Burn them (almost)
This sounds wild, but trust me, you’ve never had broccoli, cauliflower, onions, carrots, sweet potato, or butternut squash until you’ve drizzled it in oil, tossed it in the oven, and roasted it until it’s very, very brown. If you roast these veggies until they’re “done” they’ll be cooked, not very exciting. If you keep roasting them until they get nice and brown, they’ll develop a crisp, sweet, nutty-ish crust, which boosts the flavor and adds pleasant texture.
Caramelization takes longer than just cooking them, so plan on an extra 15 minutes (at least) during your meal prep. (Don’t get tempted to crank up the heat, because that’ll actually burn them, which won’t help our cause.)
Cover them in sauce
This tip is immediately familiar to any parent, as the trick to getting your kid to try anything is to offer it with a dish of ketchup, Ranch, or in my son’s case, hot sauce. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to ease the palatability of your veggies by smothering it in chimichurri, Chipotle Ranch, or BBQ sauce, and there is a whole world of DIY sauces and dressings that are so delicious, you’ll happily use your broccoli spears as a Sauce Delivery Mechanisms.
Experiment with different flavor profiles, make your own sauces or dressings at home, or put ketchup on everything—no one is judging. If it helps you enjoy your veggies more, you’re winning.
The most important tip
Despite my last sentence, we are not competing in the Vegetable Olympics. If you skip them in one meal, it’s FINE. If you really hate mushrooms, stop forcing yourself to eat them. If you only like them prepared one way (like roasted or air fried), keep preparing them that way. If big garden salads make you bloated, don’t make them—even if everyone says how “healthy” they are.
Vegetables can be good! Eat some. Use these tips to enjoy them more. Let that be good enough.
*Daily Harvest promotional terms: Promo code “Whole30” is applicable for new Plan customers only to receive $50 off their first box, and is applied at checkout through 5/6/2023. Additional $10 off is applied for Medium Box Discount. Order must be placed by 3/31/2024 at 11:59pm ET. No cash value. Offer may be modified or canceled at any time. Cannot be combined with other promotional offers.
I grew up with the Waste Not, Want Not mentality aka the Clean Plate Club. Over-cooked, stringy asparagus and steamed Brussels sprouts - OMG. Those BSs would be rock hard little ice balls, and I’d still have to find a way to choke them down. My mother never made me eat leftover dinner for breakfast (I knew a few kids who had to do that, and OMG no), so I had that going for me. I’m still not a huge fan of either of those veggies, but cooked WELL is a different ballgame!! One of my favorite meals as a kid was calf’s liver, mashed potatoes, and peas. We were a meat and potatoes kind of family. (We also had “smoked neck” - does anyone else that doesn’t live in Baltimore know what that is? You boil the pork with potatoes and string beans. It’s... a thing we ate.) I also LOVED stuffed peppers - green peppers stuffed with ground beef, rice, tomatoes, and I’m sure something else in there. And they would get roasted in the oven. I grew up lower middle class. My parents grew up poor. We almost never ate out, and pizza was reserved for some Friday nights. I was fortunate that my mom was a good cook (except for the aforementioned asparagus and Brussels) and we had good meals every night. We had a garden for a long time, and my mom would make pickles, and can tomatoes, as well as making fruit preserves - in our yard we had a damsen plum tree, cherry tree, and access to a grape vine. All of which is to say, I was VERY fortunate, despite not having a lot of money. Given that I have more money than time now, I love that there are so many options for fresh, healthy meals. So far I’ve tried a few companies. I few years ago I did Sun Basket and was cooking for a while, but... time. So, it’s either order in or have something good waiting for me to heat it up. My goal is to get better about the latter half of that statement.
Growing up, my version of eating veggies was having black olives on my pizza 😂 (are olives even a veggie or just a fat?) We would also have the occasional canned green beans during “nice” dinners. As an adult, and especially once I had a kid, I made it a point to try and up my intake, but it was still hard. I hate raw veggies, even salad, and cooking them in the oven takes forever. Enter: the air fryer! We got one with a rotisserie basket so we just throw everything in there and it spins around for 15 minutes getting the veggies crisp on all sides with no flipping halfway needed 🙏🏻 They come out crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside, and delicious with just a little olive oil and some Meat and Potatoes seasoning. Haven’t had a bad air fried carrot, potato, sweet potato, zucchini, squash, or Brussels sprout yet!