Ask Grover: How to Get Children to Eat Vegetables

New York Times

This week, Sesame Street’s Grover is taking over Ask Well to answer questions about the new cookbook “Sesame Street Let’s Cook!” and how to encourage healthful eating for children. You can read his answers below and watch the video, and learn more from Susan McQuillan, a family nutritionist and the author of “Sesame Street Let’s Cook!”

Those are great answers, Grover! But we also asked Ms. McQuillan for her advice about getting children to eat vegetables. Ms. McQuillan noted that too many parents focus on getting their child to eat a vegetable, and they don’t spend enough time thinking about how it is prepared. Here are a number of great suggestions for offering vegetables to children.

No more side dishes: If you’re mostly serving veggies plain as side dishes, try serving more vegetable soups, smoothies, pizzas with vegetable toppings, and mixed dishes like stir-fries, chilies, and stews, where you can minimize the amount of meat you use and include more veggies and grains.

Serve dips: Many kids will eat more vegetables if they can dip them into something, like Telly’s Tomato-White Bean Dippity Dip or Cowboy Elmo’s Creamy Ranch Dressing (made with yogurt). Both recipes are in this book for just that reason.

Make smoothies: In “Let’s, Cook!,” Ms. McQuillan included a green smoothie that is made with kale, avocado, banana and fruit juice as a base. The juice and ripeness of the banana keep it sweet.

Use mashed potatoes and cheese: Use foods your kids like to introduce more vegetables into their diet. If your children like mashed potatoes, you might try mashing in just a little bit of some other cooked veggies (like cooked carrots). If they like cheese, ask if they would like to try a vegetable topped with a little melted cheese or grated Parmesan.

Think about texture: For a child who liked only white bread, peanut butter, and pancakes, Ms. McQuillan suggested serving vegetables with soft textures, such as a mashed potato purée mixed with carrot purée. Offer vegetables served raw with a dip or roasted to create a delicious new flavor and texture. Serve vegetables mashed like potatoes, shredded like slaw or cut into bits and added to macaroni and cheese.

To learn more about children and healthful eating, join the discussion at the Well Book Club.