Get Your Children to Eat their Vegetables!

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By Cindy Edwards

A new year brings opportunities and challenges. For many parents, getting their children to eat healthier will be a top priority, but getting kids to eat more asparagus and broccoli can be a bit daunting.

When my boys were little, I became trapped in the routine of preparing the same basic meals week after week.  It was boring for me and not very good for my sons.  I knew that they needed to be open-minded to try new things and certainly needed to expand their menus from green beans and potatoes.

Somewhere along the way, I read in an article that many people develop a taste for a particular food if they eat it 7-10 times in a row.  I am sorry that I cannot remember where I read this or if it was truly scientific; however, I devised a little plan that proved to be successful in my home, and I hope that it works for you.

When my sons were in kindergarten, they learned the alphabet through a program called “letter of the week.”  Each week the letter was a “celebrity”:  Everything in the classroom, from crafts to food, was centered on the chosen letter. This gave me the idea of “vegetable of the week,” and I began with the letter “A.”

It was so much fun.  Our first “A” vegetable was asparagus.  I roasted it very simply with olive oil and kosher salt.  Each night, everyone at the table had to take one bite.  Regardless of the entree, asparagus was a regular for one week.  I did not make a huge deal out of it; instead, it was a game. I added a cream sauce one night and Parmesan cheese another night.  One son was more hesitant than the other, but eventually they seemed to like asparagus.  After that, I was off to brussel sprouts. 
I tried the same procedure, and it worked!! 

There were definitely some vegetables that were bigger hits than others, but the concept of a small bite each night worked for me.  Of course, I was very proud of them. Each night I encouraged them to expand their horizons and eat like an adult.  When their friends made comments like “yuck,” my youngest son smiled with pride about his new and sophisticated palate.

I have a very healthy friend who purees vegetables and adds them to almost every dish that she prepares for her toddler.  This is a very good idea for incorporating vegetables and definitely helps if your child does not like certain textures. 

My most important advice is to introduce a varied diet to your children when they are young, whether you use my “vegetable of the week” game or create one of your own.  Practicing and encouraging healthy activities at an early age is a vital part of child rearing.

Roasted Asparagus
1 Bunch of fresh asparagus
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash asparagus and trim off the ends.  Place on a baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil.  Lightly sprinkle with salt. Roast in oven for about 10 minutes.  If using cheese, remove from oven and sprinkle the cheese. Return to oven and melt cheese. 
This is also the perfect way to roast most vegetables.

Wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy 2013.
As always, thanks for reading.

Properly yours,

Cindy Edwards embodies everything pretty, perky and proper about the South. She's a wife, mother, volunteer and freelance writer. Cindy volunteers enough hours to exhaust most by serving on the Board of Trustees for the Telfair Museums, the Savannah Book Festival Board of Directors and the University of Georgia Honors Advisory Board. She has also served on the Boards of the March of Dimes and Young Life Savannah. Cindy has been married to her college sweetheart, Dr. Joe Edwards III, for 25 years and is the proud mother of two sons: Joe IV, a senior at the University of Georgia, and Jack, a freshman at Ole Miss. No matter how busy, Cindy always makes time for a competitive game of bridge.
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@ Melanie. Hello Melanie!! I do check these comments and was so pleased to see yours. I am glad that you enjoyed the Mac and Cheese hints. I hope that your recipe wins. Fingers crossed!!!! Thanks for your comment. Cindy

By Cindy Edwards on January 25, 2013


Hi Cindy, I just wanted to take a moment and comment on the Mac and Cheese hint you gave me. I even used Parmesan cheese! It was amazing! I am making it this weekend and it should beat my sisters recipe this time! I also love this asparagus recipe I am going to try it tonight! Thanks again! I am not sure if you read all these comments but I loved speaking with you! And will be following your blog from now on!

By Melanie on January 24, 2013


Great article. I look forward to your blogs. Keep them coming L. Lanier

By L. Lanier on January 19, 2013


What a great idea Cindy! My son is 22 months and a VERY picky eater. We can't wait to give the veggie game a try. And it's not only healthy for my son - my husband and I can improve on our veggie eating as well!

By Winslet on January 15, 2013


Great idea! Too many parents do not offer any healthy eating habits or food to their children. It's way to easy to go through the drive-through. What a shame! Thank you for offering simple ideas to help children become healthier.

By Sandra on January 11, 2013


What a great idea! I have a 4-month-old grandson, and I will surely suggest this game to his mother. When I was growing up, I had NO say about whether or not I liked a food. I simply ate whatever Mama served! I know that times have changed, but that discipline worked for me because I like all foods. My best childhood friend says that she eats liver ONLY because we had that for Saturday lunch often and she was usually there:)

By Viki Curtis on January 10, 2013


Very creative way to introduce children to vegetables.

By Linda Parton on January 09, 2013


Getting children to eat healthy foods can be fun!!! A discussion of the benefits of eating nutritiously motivates children to eat a variety of foods. Eating healthy does begin at a young age. I will definitely forward this post to my children.

By Ann on January 08, 2013


What a great idea. Wish I had known this when my sons were growing up, but I am sharing with my daughters-in-law.

By Glenda D Edwards on January 08, 2013


Loved your blog and you are so right as always. Although it can be challenging at times, introducing children to a variety of healthy foods is a critical step in their growth. Great ideas on making dinner time fun! I was not as creative as you when my girls were young but we made nutrition a priority and they are wonderful teenage eaters today. Keep up the great posts!!!

By Anonymous on January 07, 2013


Brilliant! I wish we have had this conversation 20 years ago. Love this idea and will pass this post on to my sister-in-law. She will find it very helpful with her 9 year old and 7 year old. Love this post!

By Donna on January 07, 2013


Brilliant! I wish we had this conversation 20 years ago. Many young families will truly benefit from this idea. I'm passing this post on to my sister-in-law. Love this post!

By Donna on January 07, 2013


Fantastic!!!! A most needed topic. Children today need to be introduced to foods that are healthy and delicious. Most foods that children do not like have never been tried. Your suggestions are so good. Thank you for your insights and experience shared. Carolyn

By Carolyn Nowell on January 07, 2013


Well done! What a creative way to introduce hesitant children to vegetables! I will definitely try this at my house! Once again, you have outdone yourself with your blog! Keep up the excellent work. I always look forward to reading your wonderfully helpful articles! Kudos!!!

By Marci on January 07, 2013

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
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I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
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