The 10 Best Vegetables Your Kids Should Eat, According to a Nutritionist
Creating healthy eating habits is so important for children. Even though I wish I could let my son eat whatever his heart desires, I know that a steady diet of fruit snacks and pizza may not be the best idea. For all kids to grow healthy and strong, they need to eat their vegetables. Frances Largeman-Roth, nutritionist, author of Eating In Color: Delicious, Healthy Recipes For You and Your Family, and mom of three, told POPSUGAR that while getting kids to eat their vegetables may not be easy, it's well worth it. "Most kids love fruit, but veggies can sometimes be a tough sell," she said. "Some kids prefer raw veggies to cooked because they like the crunch, but each kid is different, and you'll likely have to offer several different varieties to your child to find a few they like."
And if they refuse to eat a particular vegetable several times, it's easy to give up — but don't! "Studies show that young kids need to be introduced to a new food up to 20 times before they'll try it," Largeman-Roth explained. "Plus, their tastes change over time. They may turn their noses up at Brussels sprouts now, but in six months, they may actually ask for them. The important thing is to be flexible, keep an open mind, and set a great example for them by eating a variety of healthy foods yourself, including veggies." To see the best veggies for kids, ranked, keep reading.
Even though a lot of kids claim to dislike broccoli, Largeman-Roth said that it's worth it to keep trying. "Yes, it contains cancer-fighting phytonutrients, but these green stalks also contain plenty of calcium, which helps keep bones strong," she told POPSUGAR. "Kids can pick up the florets with their fingers, and you can steam them to make them easier to chew."
Not just for rabbits, carrots do a lot of good for little kids, too. "These beta-carotene loaded stalks are generally a hit with kids and are perfect for dipping in hummus and other healthy dips," advised Largeman-Roth.
"While kids might not love this leafy green on its own, they may be willing to eat it baked into egg dishes, like frittatas, or on pizza," she suggested. "Spinach is rich in iron, but pair it with a vitamin-C rich food (like citrus or tomatoes) to help your kids absorb the mineral."
Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas make for an easy treat for kids to eat. "Just trim the ends and they're ready to go. Kids love that they can eat the whole thing — pod and all. Plus, they contain folate to promote healthy growth," Largeman-Roth explained.
Mini Bell Peppers
"Peppers are an amazing source of vitamin C (one cup contains your day's worth) and have the natural sweetness kids like," she said. "The mini versions are fun because they can eat the whole thing besides the stem."
Persian Cucumbers (aka Mini Cucumbers)
If your kid likes pickles and bite-sized treats, try Persian cucumbers (aka mini cucumbers). "Cucumbers are hydrating, which is especially helpful during the warmer months," Largeman-Roth explained. "The Persian variety is smaller and less bitter, so you can keep the skin on."
Brussels sprouts are notorious for children not liking them, but as long as they're cooked right, your little one can enjoy this healthy vegetable. "These little cabbages can definitely appeal to kids — just don't boil them," Largeman-Roth advised. "That creates a strong cabbage-y flavor. It's better to roast or sauté them to bring our their natural sweetness. Brussels sprouts contain folate, vitamin C, and potassium."
"Tomatoes have a substantial amount of beta-carotene, as well as vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene," Largeman-Roth said. "The great thing about tomatoes is that they're incredibly flavorful and sweet when they're in season. And cooked tomatoes are even higher in lycopene than fresh ones."
Arguably the best food for Fall, butternut squash is also super healthy, said Largeman-Roth: "It's loaded with fiber, beta-carotene, and potassium. Roast it in chunks and try it on pizza."
Even though it's technically a fruit, Largeman-Roth suggested including this trendy treat when it comes to your kids' vegetable intake: "This nutrient-dense food makes a wonderful first food for babies. It's high in fiber (half an avocado contains almost 5 grams), plus it's rich in heart-healthy fats, lutein, and potassium."