Making Vegetables More Enjoyable for Children
Article by: Diana Orozco, RD
Over the past few years, children have been having a difficult time meeting the minimum requirements of vegetables that should be consumed on a daily basis.. Vegetables are an important part of a balanced, nutrient-dense meal or snack that should ideally be consumed on a daily basis.
Why are vegetables important?
It is impossible for 1 single vegetable to provide all the nutrients and benefits from the vegetable group, so having a diet full of different colored vegetables is key. Eating the same vegetables over and over would not provide the same benefits. The more colorful your plate is, the more nutrient dense and diverse it would be.
Vegetables help decrease the risk of a number of chronic health conditions. Not consuming enough vegetables in your diet can cause deficiencies and other illnesses in the future. Trying to consume at least 1 cup of vegetables with a variety of colors is a great way to ensure that you are giving your body necessary nutrients it needs. Vegetables are also low in calories, high in fiber and a great trick to help people feel full and prevent over-eating other food groups that are higher in calories. A healthy plate should consist of ½ of your plate non-starchy vegetables, ¼ protein and ¼ whole grain or starchy vegetables.
According to a study that was published in 2014, which involved participants from ages to 4-26 years old, the risk of mortality decreased significantly when fruits and vegetables were consumed in their diet, including cancer and cardiovascular disease risk (the top 2 leading causes of death).
Vegetables can be prepared in different ways: steaming, grilling, stir-frying, roasting, etc. It is important to try different ways to prepare vegetables to make it enjoyable and flavorful. They can also be prepared with condiments to add flavor and/or texture. On-line recipes from sources like the American Diabetes Association (diabetes.org), Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (eatright.org) are great resources to allow people to become creative and perhaps find a new way to prepare vegetables. Vegetables can be purchased either frozen or fresh, they both provide the same nutritional benefits, and it is completely up to the consumer’s preference.
Vegetables can be prepared in a fun way to help children enjoy or at least be willing to taste them. Involving children in the kitchen and having them participate with simple tasks in the kitchen can increase curiosity and encourage them to be open to adding some vegetables to their plate.
The following are recipe links that can include vegetables:
More recipes can be found here!
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