Does your child’s diet need to diversify?

Our Food Editor, Trent Rowe, makes a great point about carrots. Kids do love them, and I’ve got four little hungry mouths at my house to prove it. When I want my kids — who are all six years old and under — to eat everything off of their plate without a big production (including their vegetables), I go for the favorites. In our house, the stars of the vegetable world are carrots, green beans, corn, broccoli, avocado, and tomatoes.

Technically, the last two are fruits, but they are so good for you, I use them in the “favorite veggie” lineup. That does not mean, however, that I stick to these options only. Far from it! I’m a firm believer in the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” when it comes to tempting them with new flavors. Here’s a few discoveries I’ve made along the way that helps keep their vegetable diet as diverse as possible:

• If they don’t like it cooked one way tonight, then maybe tomorrow they will like it a different way. For example: My kids don’t care for sautéed onions, but they will eat it raw in a salad or on a sandwich. Or, freshly sliced cucumber doesn’t seem to rock their world, but they will eat a pickle (or two) in a heartbeat!

• Hummus, guacamole, ranch dressing, and ketchup are your friend. I always present the vegetable without an accompaniment first. Then, if it doesn’t go over well, I offer a dip or sauce. Sweet peppers with hummus make for sweet smiles at the table. A little ketchup with that asparagus makes for a happy tummy, too.

• Making it fun will help the meal go by faster. Ever heard of “ants on a log”? That’s how I get my kids to eat celery. Just a little peanut butter (or cream cheese) spread over the celery with raisins, and voila! We’re not just eating healthy, we’re having fun. Here’s a tip for the child who is leery about biting down on the celery: cut it into small bite-size pieces before you serve it up, and suddenly it’s “ants on a raft,” and your little one won’t mind the texture at all.



Celeste Jo Walls is managing editor of Central Florida Health News. She may be reached by e-mail at

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