Sunday, September 6, 2009

Get Kids in the Garden

My family and I were out in the garden today admiring some of the kid’s handiwork, the gorgeous sunflowers, when the idea for today’s blog came to me. My kids have always been picky eaters when it comes to anything in the vegetable arena, and I have learned a couple tricks that may be new to a few and old to others, that help them eat some, if not all, their vegetables.

First tip: Growing the dreaded vegetables

My husband and I have always had a garden, but with the price of groceries lately, we put more time and effort into it this year. Everyone has an input when it comes to what is grown, so the kids pick their favorites, help plant, and then help harvest some of the vegetables for dinner. When they know that what’s on their plate came out of the garden, I don’t get the usual pleas about how many bites they have to eat, and they usually eat most of what is served to them. We also let the kids add something special to the garden, and this year it was giant sunflowers. They grow pretty slowly, but when most of the garden is finished, these golden beauties brighten up an otherwise barren stretch of ground, and they are such a cheery reminder that there maybe some summer weather left.

Tip number two: Helping in the Kitchen

I know that this tip is not new, and with everyone’s busy schedule it’s hard to pull off, but I try to get my kids involved in at least one choice for dinner. I remind them about what we have, and then to make things easier and quicker, I give them a choice between two items. I also offer to make their choice a bit more appetizing by adding a topping-cheddar cheese is always a hit at our house-and this helps the green servings go down a little easier. (A little ketchup on the side is a favorite of my son’s, although the rest of us think this is pretty nasty, but hey, he eats it…)

Tip number four: Be a good model

Whatever you do, don’t worry if they turn their nose up at vegetables even after all your coaxing. My daughter used to despise everything and anything green-and yellow, and orange, and red-when she was my son’s age, but now she usually mixes a salad together, just like her dad and I, to go along with most dinners, and she often grabs handfuls of carrots -with dip too, but I’m not complaining- and eats these for snacks. The kids are watching your eating habits, whether or not they adopt them right away. So ease up, don’t fret, have the kids pop a multivitamin each day to help, then take them to smell some flowers before summer is all gone.

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