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As mums, we want our kids to eat a rainbow of vegetables.

The health benefits of eating lots of veggies makes a long list. The problem is the age old – how do you get your kids to eat their greens (or colours in actual case). You know the drill – you spend your time lovingly preparing a meal, your kids take one look at it and turn up their nose. You, in turn, feel your stress rising.

Why won’t your child eat the food you serve?

There are so many valid (to your child) reasons. Some of these might include:

- A child’s imagination is going at a hundred miles an hour and dinner isn’t exciting in their eyes.

- They might not like the vegetables mixed together in the salad.

- They might have seen the capsicum touching the cucumber.

- The carrots are cooked, and they prefer them raw.

- They don’t know what’s in the food.

- They don’t trust what’s in the food.

- They have never tried one or more of the ingredients in the food (or they have only tried them once or twice). This is called neophobia – a fear of the unknown, actually a bit of a protective mechanism from the dark ages.

- Last time they tried it, they had a negative experience with the food

-It’s boring, you have served the same salad for 3-4 days this week.

So what to do when you feel like giving up and just making them some toast? Some things to try:

Stick it!

Kids often like anything on a stick – it really is that simple. You can use a toothpick, a kebab stick or an icy pole stick. These work well for most things. My kids love things on a stick – in fact, it’s a sure way of getting them helping in the kitchen (and out of trouble).

Salad? Serve the same salad but on a stick! My son’s eyes lit up the first time I suggested making one and he insisted on being the salad stick maker. Designing his own salad on a stick! And whilst preparing, you might just find your kids taking a little nibble! Like licking the beaters, only more colourful :)

Meat? Do you have a child who is not really into meat? What if you STICK it!? Serve chicken lolly pops for dinner. Just put a toothpick into the chicken or meatballs after you cook them. I find this one doesn’t even take more time to prepare.

A new ingredient? Stick it works really well for anything – for example, if you want to use a fresh herb or a new food that your kids haven’t tried or aren’t used to. My kids loved the basil on a tomato and bocconcini combination when presented on a toothpick.

Water? Do you find it hard to keep your kids hydrated in the summertime? Make water more fun by threading some fruit on a thin wooden stick and popping one in their glass (flavour, decoration and a great stirrer).

Dip it!

Another way to make food more exciting and interactive is to serve it with a dip. The flavour hit is fantastic and it just seems to appeal to kids. Dips can make meat, fish, fruit and veggies more appealing.

Try popping some dip into a small shot glass (hummus or tzatziki are great) and add some colourful veggie sticks (carrots, cucumbers and capsicums are great). Or give the kids some choice as serve a dip in the middle of a platter of different veggie sticks and crackers.

Want to try and make some dips of your own. Home-made dips can be simple and save you money too. Here are some simple ones to try:

  • Try a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce with natural yoghurt (great with tuna or salmon patties!)

  • Guacamole makes a great side for pita chips

  • Cream cheese with garlic

  • Cream cheese with creamed corn

  • Cream cheese, natural yoghurt and fresh herbs (try dill and parsley)

  • Natural yoghurt and lemon juice (try this with chicken!)

  • Tzatziki – natural yoghurt, grated cucumber, mint, garlic and lemon juice. Tzatziki is my kids’ favourite.

  • Blend some nuts, sundried tomatoes, parmesan cheese and a pinch of oil

We sometimes use dips to create some fun food art. We make fruit faces using yoghurt and fruit. Or robot crackers using grainy crackers with cream cheese and veggie eyes, mouth and nose (recipes and ideas on Foost website).

STICK IT! DIP IT!

Teaming anything on a stick with a dip doubles the fun. Fruit with yoghurt as a dip, salad on a stick with tzatziki or hummus, meat on a stick with tomato sauce or what about fish on a stick with a little mayonnaise?

Stay positive!

I hope you have been inspired to try some new Dip It, Stick It ideas in the kitchen with your kids. But remember, it is really important is to stay positive. Learning to like foods for kids (and adults) takes times. Your child might not try your new invention today, but remember to try to keep meal times relaxed and fun. One day they will grow into healthy eaters.

So how about it? Have I inspired you to get creative in the kitchen? Share your thoughts below!

  • Anything that helps with kids eating is a bonus. Thanks for the ideas.

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  • The more children help to prepare food the more likely they will eat it I have found. Thanks for the post

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  • Great article, I would get my kids to peel and chop veggies and make veggie soup and skewers to cook on the BBQ. Give them a cake mix and be their helper roll reversal get them reading the recipe and following it to the tee. Tell them they are in charge and you will help them. Let them feel in control makes them feel very grown up. Kids love to be involved in all processes of life so get them shopping and finding the items at the shop, gardening and helping Dad building and making things letting them use the tools. Food for life!

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  • I will 100% be trying this with our middle child. Our eldest will eat anything we put on her plate, always has, she takes raw broccoli to school for crunch and sip she loves it! Then number 2 won’t eat any vege. Which is odd because as a baby she would eat anything aswell. We have just successfully gotten her to eat broccoli when big sis does but anything else is a challenge. I will be trying tho Thankyou for the tip!

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  • Never thought of this may actually work

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  • We have been inspired to try some new and creative ideas, thank you.

    Reply

  • I wish I’d thought about doing this when my kids were little. I would always let them help in the kitchen though. They both love their veges now and, surprisingly, they will try something different that I wouldn’t have tried.

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  • letting kids be part of the cooking/preparing process is also good as they are getting to explore the food and hopefully reduce fear or wonder about it.

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  • Lovely colourful kebab idea.Kids definitely pick this one from the table.

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  • Great tips. A lot of good ideas in the article. I will be trying the stick trick and dip it, as my kids have started to turn the noses up at all vegetables with the exclusion of cooked broccoli.

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  • great idea, will try that.
    I’ve also tried smoothies with stuff like lettuce, brussel sprouts, spinach [but with fruit that makes it taste great]. my son loves this because he can drink it and doesn’t need to eat as many vegies…..

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  • Not my kids – they tend to prefer no dip! It’s so hard getting them to try sauces and dips!

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  • Such a great idea!
    My little one used to be such a good eater but now she’s starting to get a bit more picky.
    All she wants is eggs, bacon and juice!

    Reply

  • What a great idea – Kebab Surprise. You can put anything on a skewer. I love this.

    Reply

  • I love food on a stick myself too. Great idea for the fruit on a stick in their water.

    Reply

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