It happens to the best of us. As our wobbler transitioned to a toddler, his taste buds also became a lot more independent. Suddenly his former favorite food – the avocado – was no longer even allowed on his plate. His little fingers were now focused on picking off even the tiniest green shreds stuck to his food. Really, what is it with toddlers and the color green?
I’m no parenting expert or nutrition genius, but I’ve been there, mama! And, here is what worked for us.
1. Blend it up.
We started really early on with the smoothies; in fact “mama vuuuuuu” was one of my son’s first word combinations in honor of the sound the blender makes. Whether it’s greens or protein that you’re having trouble getting your kiddo to eat, smoothies are the answer. I serve one with breakfast almost everyday to give him a massive boost of nutrients. Here’s our favorite recipe:
1 Cup Almond Milk
½ Frozen Banana
½ Cup Frozen Blueberries or Strawberries or both!
1 Serving Protein Powder (we recently switched to Truvani)
1 Serving Greens Powder
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
2 Handfuls of Fresh Spinach
This recipe will yield enough for mama and the mini too! If your child is just absolutely adverse to the color green, here are a couple tricks: 1) blueberries or acai will turn your smoothie a dark purple/brown or 2) use a dark blue or green colored cup or a cup with a large opaque straw so he has no idea what color the liquid is.
Quick tip – if the blender is too loud for baby, keep the blender base in the closet or bathroom. Turn it on, shut the door, and distract the kid, then return to smoothie once it’s done blending.
2. Bribe Him.
I’m sure there are a ton of tried and true parenting experts that will disagree with this one (did I mention that I’m not a parenting expert?). There is usually something on the plate that our kid wants to eat more than his veggies, things like bread or macaroni or cheese. So, set that aside and when he takes one bite of his veggies, give him a bite of what he really wants. I feel like this is how we live as adults, right? Sometimes I don’t want to eat my salad, but it’s good for me, so I do – and then I have dessert!
3. Put it in a Taco.
Tortillas have been a lifesaver in our house. My kid won’t eat veggies on a plate, but turn it into a taco and add some salsa and “guacamole” (errr…mashed avocado), and suddenly it’s a 5-star meal in his book. We live in Austin, TX, so tacos are basically a daily requirement. If they aren’t on your menu, I suggest you get yourself some tortillas and give it a try. We eat a lot of breakfast tacos in our house, and one simple trick is to scramble your eggs with spinach. Then use the mashed avocado as glue to keep the tortilla together. This tortilla/taco trick works every time, I’ve even stuffed the veggies from borscht (beets, cabbage, potatoes) into a tortilla – and like magic, he ate them all!
4. Feed Him His Favorites.
You don’t eat everything, so why would your kid? We all have issues with flavors or textures or bad experiences after too much vodka that has made us adverse to certain foods. So, if there is a healthy vegetable that your child is quite fond of, then make it abundant. For example, my kid loves mushrooms. So, I add mushrooms to everything, soups, eggs, stir fries, pasta, we go through over a pound of mushrooms a week. I realize it’s not a “vegetable,” but it’s loaded with nutrients and supports immunity. We also keep his favorite healthy snacks on hand and easy to access on the kitchen counter: seaweed snacks, mandarin oranges, bananas, cashews and pistachios.
That said, you still need to introduce him to new foods. Keep putting little bits of everything on his plate. Toddlers are constantly surprising us, and you never know the day he might just reach for the steamed broccoli and decide that it’s his new favorite food!
5. Give Yourself a Break, Mama!
As long as you’re not living in the McDonald’s drive through, then you’re doing a good job. Don’t stress too much. If your kid is growing up at a healthy weight and strong, then you must be doing something right. The best thing you can do for your kid is be a good example of healthy, balanced eating and they’ll eventually come around. Our kids are watching our every move, and they will absolutely make our habits their own. So, toss your greasy chips and chocolates (…or hide in a closet while eating them as I do) and set out to be the vegetable-eating, fruit-snacking role model of what you hope your children will become!