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Here’s how to raise a vegetable-loving kid

I haven’t mastered the art of parenting. Not even close. But I say with pride my kids love their veggies.

I believe all parents are doing the best they can, but when I hear a mother lament that her child refuses to eat anything but chicken nuggets I want to give that mother the side eye. Then ask “where is that kid getting all those nuggets?”

It’s our responsibility to teach healthy eating habits, and that includes learning to love veggies.

The most common trait I observe in families with “picky eaters” is they allow their children to frequently dictate what they eat.

Some even make separate meals for the kids because they don’t want to fight with the kiddo or they fear their little ones would starve if they missed a meal.

While this seems like the path of least resistance, you’ll end out paying dearly in the long run. So, here are some tips to get your brood to eat better food.

Fundamental tip — hungry kids eat with enthusiasm so limit snacking between meals.

Kids mimic what they see so you need to cowboy up and eat your veggies, too. An engaged eater is a happy eater. Kids enjoy dunking veggies into dips.

Now, I’m not talking about ketchup and ranch dressing here. Think of dip as vehicle for nutrition so use Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, beans and pureed veggies as the base for dips and when you serve dip, don’t serve chips, only veggies.

Serve cooked veggies like broccoli and cauliflower at room temperature or even cold. The flavors are less pronounced and more appealing to young palates.

Everything tastes better on a stick so instead of salad; make veggie kabobs.

Individual veggie pizzas on English muffins are always a hit, especially if you let the kids prepare them. Add extra vegetables to eggs, casseroles, meatloaf and pasta.

Let the little ones pick out a new veggie from the store and help prepare it for the family. Blend the new with the familiar — if your child likes mashed potato, mix them with other vegetables like sweet potatoes or pureed cauliflower.

If they like French fries; oven bake sweet potato, carrot or zucchini “fries.” I’ll share ideas for hiding vegetables in a future column so stay tuned.

A great time to get kids to try new foods is at parties. When kids see others eating and enjoying unfamiliar foods they are more likely to try it.

Above all, don’t even suggest your child won’t like something they haven’t tried. It’s often the parent’s reluctance that triggers the child to be suspicious of foods.

How many times have we seen a child just about to eat something and a parent says “Oh! He won’t eat that!” or “You don’t like zucchini.” Just smile and say naught.

Frugal Family Fun contributed by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.

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