It's no secret that many young kids can't stand the look, let alone taste, of vegetables. In her cookbook The Help Yourself Cookbook For Kids ($20), author Ruby Roth set out to create kid-friendly versions of plant-based recipes that they'll actually want to eat. She shared some of her secrets with us to get our children involved with creating their own healthier lifestyle — whether that means going full-on vegan or incorporating a vegetable or two into an ordinary family meal.
Read through for four of her tips to help your own children become more into the idea of healthier foods.
1. Let your kiddo do the cooking.
Roth told us that she believes "as a society we do not give kids the credit they deserve as far as their capabilities," and that we should give them more responsibilities when it comes to cooking and food. By introducing your kiddo to the wonders of the kitchen from a young age, they will become familiar with ingredients, be able to feel pride in making something "all by themselves," and are so much more likely to eat the food they're helping to cook — especially if they're on the pickier side.
2. Use kid-language and simplified instructions to keep it fun.
Even if what you're whipping up is broccoli soup, you can make it fun for a child to make and eat with you (Roth calls her broccoli soup "Broc-O-Tree Bisque"). She tries to simplify most of her recipes to include around five ingredients, and writes cooking directions in a language that kids can understand and have fun with. So broccoli soup may not sound like something your kid would touch with a 10-foot pole right now, but if you call it broc-o-tree bisque and let them help you smash the cooked broccoli, who knows?
3. Focus on healthy things your family can eat, rather than things that are being taken away.
If you're trying to get rid of boxed mac-and-cheese in your house, focus on a new recipe that you can make as a family. Stock the pantry and refrigerator with healthy ingredients — Roth says that fruits and veggies can be "eye candy" — that your kids can learn how to make delicious recipes with, rather than the fact that you may be taking something unhealthy out of the repertoire. They'll be so excited about the new recipes they learned and love, they might even forget you ever resorted to mac-and-cheese every night before now (one can dream).
4. Teach kids about healthy ingredients and nutrient-rich superfoods.
If being healthy is something important to you and your family, educate your kids. If you know a ton about the health benefits of spinach, explain to your child what they are — even if it's in kid-terms — before you put a plate of the stuff in front of them. They'll be more likely to eat something that will make them "run faster" or "be big and strong," and will become more inclined to make those healthier choices as they grow up.
If you're looking to make some healthy changes in your house and get your little ones involved in cooking their own meals, scroll through for a sample of recipes from Roth's cookbook with your kids.