Teach the little ones to love veggies of all different colours, shapes and textures. Paediatric nutritionist Mandy Sacher shares some ideas.

Mother and children cooking in the kitchen.

Try one new veggie a week

Most families tend to eat the same veggies each day. While all veggies are beneficial, the ultimate goal is to eat a wide range of veggies from all the different colour groups to get the maximum nutritional benefit.

Try salad veggies, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and starchy vegetables like pumpkin or sweet potato. There’s a huge selection out there, which your children may surprise you and actually enjoy!

Create a rainbow plate

Rainbow plates are a great way to engage your child visually when encouraging them to eat more variety. Keep fresh and frozen produce on hand and get your little ones to create their own rainbow plate, filled with veggies from all the colour groups.

Include beans and legumes

High in protein, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, fibre, minerals and phytochemicals, legumes are an excellent way to ensure optimum nutritional intake, prevent constipation and keep away diseases such as colon cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol.

Great options to explore include kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas and lentils. Easy homemade creations like hummus, lentil soup, bean stews and chickpea falafels are a fantastic way to introduce legumes to your child.

Add sea vegetables

Seaweed has a high calcium content, which strengthens bones and teeth. It’s also a rich source of iron, has antimicrobial properties and is a good source of essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, which helps prevent constipation.

Nori sheets are rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C as well as iodine. Use them for sushi, shred them over salad or create seaweed wraps filled with julienned carrots, cucumber, shredded chicken (or protein of choice) and avocado.

Use fresh herbs and spices

Basil is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and is delicious in tomato-based pasta sauces, sprinkled on pizza and mixed into rissoles. Mint soothes upset stomachs and improves digestion. Parsley is rich in many vital vitamins and may help support the immune system – it can be added to smoothies, soups and pasta sauces. Add ginger to chicken soup, sprinkle turmeric on cauliflower and add cinnamon to pumpkin and butternut squash.

MORE: Check out our ultimate guide to cooking with herbs and spices.

Shop for vegetables together

Encourage your little ones to touch, smell and engage with their food. Get them involved with grocery shopping and ask them to pick up new vegetables from the shelves and place them in the trolley themselves – this begins the engagement with the new food.

Cook vegetables together

Get the kids involved in the kitchen. Children love to eat what they have helped to prepare. Let them help by peeling carrots and potatoes (using kid-friendly graters), cutting lettuce with a plastic knife or adding grated zucchini into the muffin batter.

Create a veggie patch

Children love planting seeds, watching them grow, and harvesting what they have planted. It’s a brilliant and engaging way to help them make the association between earth to plate, and to teach them about different varieties of herbs or vegetables. If space is limited, start off with herbs such as basil or oregano, or get involved with a community garden.

Get more simple, nutritious and delicious ideas from Mandy at wholesomechild.com

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