Who hasn't heard this or said this before - "My kids don't like vegetables!" Usually that statement is followed by the many ways parents have tried to entice, even trick their child to eat vegetable. There are the "Condiment Coaxers" such as ranch, peanut butter or the ever popular cheese. (Heck, I love cheese and what doesn't taste better covered in melted cheese?) Then there is the "Great Cover Up" where the veggies are secretly put into a child's favorite meal or snack. Even better, is the "Sweets Swap"; that last resort battle move of "if you eat ______, then I'll give you a (cupcake, ice cream, candy, etc). Oh, the things us parents will do to get our kids to eat something healthy AND actually like it.
Now, I am by no means an expert. My children can be stubborn and there are vegetables that they turn their nose up at, but overall my children LOVE vegetables. They love them without the cover ups or treats, they love them raw or cooked. What's the secret? There really isn't any secret. I simply believed three things. The first is presentation. It is all about how you offer the vegetables to your children. If you have any doubt, any hesitation that they will not like it, the children will know. They have an innate ability to sense when we are not confident and boy do they seize that moment. I always put vegetables on the table as if it was just like any other food on the table. I always had them put it on their plate, told them they had to try it, but never forced them to eat a lot of it if they didn't like.
The second thing is offering the vegetable as is, maybe steamed or roasted, but I didn't offer any vegetable with a dip or cheese. I personally may like to dip my vegetables in something, add a little butter, put a little salt, etc, but that is my taste palate after decades. My children's palate is brand new to the vegetable. I want them to taste it and learn to love it for it's taste not the condiment along side. To this day, my children are not dippers. They do not ask for cheese on their broccoli, ranch for their carrots or peanut butter for their celery. For the most part, they think it's weird that people do that. This certainly puts a smile on my face.
The third sort of loops back to the first. It is all about offering, I offer a vegetable multiple times. Here's a case in point. Currently, my four year old did not like asparagus. The first time I offered it to him, he said no way, but house rules, he took a bite. He still said no way. four more times later, we BBQ'd the asparagus. Again, he had to take a bite, but this time he said "yum" and wanted more. Success! I am not fooled into thinking that he loves asparagus or that it might become his favorite vegetable, but he now will eat it, likes it.
It is true that it takes at least 10 times of being introduced to a new food, for someone to form a real opinion about liking it or not. So don't give up. Offer vegetables, keep offering vegetables. Encourage them to try it, but don't necessarily push it. Even have them pick a vegetable when you are grocery shopping. Sometimes by them choosing, they feel more willing to try tasting. Trust me, there will be one, two, maybe three vegetables they will learn to like, possibly love.