why you should teach your children to eat vegetables

Vegetables. I love them. Broiled, grilled, steamed, candied, I can’t get enough of them. And don’t even get me started on salad, it’s my favorite food group. Over here in Germany they’ve got lettuce that’s an absolute dream, not a day goes by that I don’t go all rabit in the fridge department.

But somewhere along the way/the move/the parenting I sort of…stopped feeding my kids vegetables. Sure we’ll do the token can of green beans here and there, and I’m fanatical about fruit (probably because someone once said something like as long as they eat fruit or vegetables they’ll turn out fine–also that could have been in one of my dreams), but vegetables? Not so much.

Plus produce is expensive, Party Pizza is not.

Add to this equation a kid (Rex, 6) who’s got clinical food anxiety–seriously, do not mix his bread and his cheese together unless it’s on a pizza crust–and one routinely overwhelmed parent and what do you get?

Children who do not eat vegetables. My children. No eat veggies.

I have to add here that we are making progress with Rex. His parent-imposed New Year’s Resolution is learning to eat new foods and he has successfully tried two new things this week–pot roast and schnitzel. This is a big move in the anything-but-pizza direction.

On Saturday we took a dinner invitation to eat with some new friends of ours. Three of our four kids are the same ages and genders, they’re tons of fun to hang with, and they have a BBQ smoker. Like we’re going to pass up free pulled pork.

Unfortunately they breed little green progenies who like vegetables. I’ve decided there is an elite group of parents just like this. Their children will most certainly grow up to be astronauts and plastic surgeons who give credit to their rocking parents for successfully making them stay at the table to consume large amounts of leafy vitamins, rich in ranch dressing.

My kids? Probably therapy; I’m sure we could start it anytime now.

My first mistake was forgetting to feed the kiddies lunch. We had a late breakfast (donuts, anyone?), Mama’s on a diet, and we had four toilets to clean. Before I knew it we were running out the door to an early afternoon dinner appointment. I thought, no biggie, we’re eating in like twenty minutes. They’ll be fine.

This was a slight miscalculation. See, smokers are kind of nothing like microwaves, my oven of choice. By the time we sat down to dinner my kids were coming frighteningly close to eating the curtain rods; too bad they weren’t made from celery stalks, that would have guaranteed their safety.

With four kids we’re conditioned to adding kid-friendly items to meals. Hot dogs, burritos, suckers, anything that will keep them from trying to talk to us while we eat. This meal had none of that. Pork, home soaked beans and salad (which I brought, go me).

The only thing on the table that appealed to Rex was the white sandwich buns and ketchup, and his was the best attitude of all my kids.

Picture one table and six kids. Three of them are quietly eating the well-balanced, high-fiber, high-protein, brownie-points-in-Heaven-for-feeding-your-kids-the-right-stuff meal. Three of them are not. Which three kids would you want to take home? 

By the time June (4) had gouged their new table with her fork, Rex had made cheese soup on his plate from his water and, well, cheese, and Harrison had pouted and told us that we were, “So mean!” I kind of wanted to curl into a cabbage patch and wilt.

And so, come Monday night we are starting Project Learn To Eat Freaking Salad Already. All week long we will be discovering the wonders of salad and it’s many faces. From bacon bits to mandarin oranges, blue cheese dressing to Italian (her six-year-old requested oil and vinegar KILL ME NOW), we will taste them all.

And they will love it. Plus anyone who participates will get money and Reeses’ Peanut Butter cups afterward. Cause we’re tough like that.


  1. I totally sympathize. My kids will only eat CORN. But only half of them and only on good days. Most of the time I think I make dinner so we can throw half of it away (after it’s been mixed with water and smeared across the table). And my food anxiety kid won’t even touch chicken nuggets, if they’re shaped non-chicken-nugget-y. So, yeah, good luck with Project Learn To Eat Freaking Salad Already. Let me know how it goes, maybe someday I’ll be ambitious enough to try it out. (Probably not.)

  2. This makes me laugh…I am one of those moms that doesn’t feed their kids veggies either! I have one child that will eat anything I put in front of him and I have another who will push his food around his plate for an hour and then decide he’s done even though he hasn’t touched anything….but I’m full mom, I promise! I’m wishing you luck on the project-learn-to-eat-freaking-salad-already too! I did see this blog post earlier this week…it sounds pretty brilliant….if it works will you let me know! Good luck! http://www.earthmonkeymoms.com/2012/01/in-kitchen-with-mama-menu-to-make-it.html

  3. II have one meatitarian and one fruititarian and I’m fine with it.

    In fact, we have it better. Tell me something: will your kid be easier to please when you’re on the road and the Golden Arches are right there or the one who’s desperate for a Salad Creations?

  4. I successfully fed my chilluns squash, zucchini, tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms tonight. I made pizza with alfredo sauce rather than tomato, and covered those veggies with mozzarella. The 2 year olds loved it. The husband, on the other hand, picked all the veggies off…
    If you want to give it a shot…

  5. I’m not laughing WITH you. I’m laughing AT you and with you. As a person with vegetable allergies I SWORE my child would eat plenty of the stuff since I know firsthand how quickly the menus of the world close up when you can’t/don’t eat those thingamabobs. Thus her brainwashing began at a YOUNG age.
    My kid gives me a disapproving look if I only have one choice for vegetables at dinner. She would rather eat edamame than pizza. She loves Olive Garden because their side of broccoli “transports me to another world.” At a recent barbeque I had to promise to let her pick her own salad ingredients if she would eat that STINKIN’ hamburger and smile about it so the hosts would stop trying to find something she’d eat. She had never tasted American cheese until 2 weeks ago and told her cousin to NEVER eat nuggets because they’re made with “pink paste which is ground up chicken PARTS!” I have to threaten her when she takes a handful of feta cheese from the fridge and told me just today that she was “craving some hummus.” Let me tell you, feeding this foodie is mighty expensive BUT she’s a WHOLE lot of fun to take traveling.
    Hang in there Annie! You can do it. And if you can’t—-just consult one of the four books your mom sent ya and you’ll do just fine.

  6. ah, you are so real it’s funny. My father-n-law, who is 6 foot 6 once told my kids that he never ate vegetables growing up because he hated them. Now my kids are convinced it is the secret to growing tall and strong.
    Ya, thanks a lot, Grandpa.

  7. Ok, and Annie, that hat you are wearing in the picture with your new Big Girl Friends. I LOVE it! I must get one. Those are not things you can find living on the border of Mexico. I. must. have. that. hat. Are they only available in Germany? How much is shipping? (In dollars or pesos, not Euros) I’m serious. I love that hat. I want it almost as much as I want the 2012 HGTV dream home.

  8. That sounds like you have a yummy week ahead of you! My kids are not big salad eaters but they do like veggies…kind of. Growing up I only ate three vegetables, corn, potatoes, and green beans. That was it. As an adult I’ve learned to like the different goodness of the greens. But, like Rex, I still prefer pizza.

  9. Amanda Bogart says:

    We named everything something fun. Broccoli = Dinosaur trees; Cauliflower = snow trees; etc. My kids love it. Whenever we try something new we’ll take turns naming it. It’s a fun way to get them interested.

  10. I had one good eater and one that was not so much picky, but very particular. I had to talk her into trying a lot of new things..luckily she did, because my rule was this: If I make something reasonable for a kid to eat at dinner time…if they refuse to eat, then they will go to bed hungry…no negotiating.

  11. I am the woman you want to strangle. I fed my kids lentil tacos last night and kale and butternut squash soup for lunch. My kids wouldn’t touch the Tostino’s pizza I made for lunch earlier this week.

    It’s just a good week.

    Next week they’ll only drink hot chocolate and throw fits unless they get to eat cold cereal for all three meals. And my two year old will only eat breakfast. Period. I mean, It’s what happened last week. We went through a giant bag of Marshmallow-Maties like nobody’s business.

    Kids are a mystery. Food appeal is cyclical. You’re fine. And you make me laugh. Love you tons, friend. Have Rex eat some schnitzel for me. I’m jealous.

  12. My kids do well…its the husband I need to get on the veggie train!! And he is hard to trick, he calls foul the minute he smells me making some Mrs. seinfeld puree dinner.

  13. You’re kids will be fine. (albeit, perhaps NOT astronauts or surgeons)
    Mine grew up on tater tots and applesauce. And they are all beautiful, handsome and talented. (I say)
    I think kids are fussier now when it comes to eating, then when my kids were growing up, and when I was growing up. They (and I ) had to eat was before them or freaking starve and “I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT” (that’s probably in one of your parenting books your mom gave you ..ha ha ha)
    Seems like my daughter has to fix something different for her 2 girls, AND spoiled hubby.
    however, I LOVE VEGGIES

  14. So my extremely gifted children have caught on to my ploy to get them to eat vegetables. Take last night, for example. I made an incredible piza soup. YUM. But the first thing they asked was, “Mom, is that red liquid stuff really tomatoes that you blended up so finely with onions, garlic, mushrooms and green peppersso we wouldn’t know we are eating our serving of vegetables today?” Totally busted.
    However, I am quite the expert at teaching my children how important it is to eat dessert. Love dessert. Pretty much have it after every meal. . . Hey, I get severely rebuked when something sweet doesn’t follow our nightly dining session. 🙂