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If you are the parent of a picky eater (or just a toddler in general), it may feel like you are always having to say no.
“No, we aren’t having cookies for breakfast, no, we aren’t only eating cottage cheese today;” my personal favorite, “no, you may not have your 57th (or whatever number were are on) applesauce go-go-squeeze of the day.”
All of these are real conversations I’ve had with my picky eater. I’ve found that it is much easier to not focus on the things she can’t or shouldn’t have, but on what she can have. (I still haven’t crossed the line of a cookie for breakfast, but really is a Pop Tart much better than a cookie?)
Breakfast always seems to be the struggle for us, my daughter is an early riser and she usually wakes up with 3 words coming out of her mouth, “Mommy I’m Hungry.” So I decided to share today tips for how you can increase your family’s fruit and vegetable intake at breakfast.
ADD A VEGGIE TO YOUR EGGS
This may seem like the most obvious one but remember how I talked about my little one being an early riser? Well, I don’t have time to make eggs usually before she wakes up. My favorite hack for this is to make eggs in a muffin tin with a chopped up veggie and cook them. Then I can refrigerate them and they only need to be microwaved for a few seconds to be warmed and she can have a nutritious breakfast. Here is my recipe for muffin tin eggs:
Here are a few other ways to add vegetables to your eggs:
5 minute egg bake (Muscle and Manna, Josten Fish, RD)
Thanksgiving Breakfast Frittata (The Foodie Dietitian, Kara Lydon, RD)
Veggie Quiche Patties (Liz’s Healthy Table, Liz Weiss, RD)
Skipping the eggs? Try this Tofu Scramble (Chef Catherine Brown, Organic Grower, Culinary Nutritionist)
2. DRINK YOUR VEGGIES
When I’m talking about drinking your veggies, I’m not just talking about making a smoothie. If you have a child that likes to drink juice but not the thick texture of a smoothie, try this quick hack: blend carrots into already prepared orange juice. It’s not really a smoothie but, if you have juice drinkers it can be a great way to get in a vegetable. Smoothies can be a great way to get all sorts of veggies in. Whatever smoothie you choose try putting it in a dark colored glass with a lid. It’s a simple thing, but if you are trying to squeeze in a green or dark colored veggie they are more likely to try it and decide they like it before their eyes fool them.
More great veggie-filled smoothie recipes to try:
Apple Cider Green Smoothie (Josten Fish, Muscle and Manna)
3. ADD THEM TO QUICK BREADS AND PANCAKES
Pancakes and other quick breads that are a common staple on our breakfast table are another great way to sneak in a veggie. This goes beyond the traditional pumpkin bread. Our favorite is to put sweet potatoes in our waffles. I make a batch of them, and freeze them, then I can just pop them in the toaster on the morning I want to eat them. My daughter actually loves to have them anytime of day and I know she is getting a great orange veggie.
Butternut Squash French Toast (Amy Gorin Nutrition)
Butternut Squash Banana Bread (The Foodie Dietitian, Kara Lydon)
4. MIX THEM INTO HOT CEREALS
I saved the best for last. Oatmeal and other hot cereals are a great place to add in veggies, either pureed or my personal favorite is shredded carrots. Since picky eaters often dislike textures, I usually add a pureed veggie to the base of the cereal and then add shredded, so if they pick around the shredded they don’t know that they are still getting some goodness. You can also sub out half of the oats in oatmeal with riced cauliflower and prepare it with the oats like normal, no one will even know that half of the oats are actually veggies. Here is a recipe for adding carrots to your oatmeal:
After reading this you may be thinking, why do I need to get more fruits and veggies in at breakfast? I already get enough during the day. I recommend aiming for at least 4 fruits and veggies per day. I think that most people can do that consistently. But getting 4 in the timeframe from lunch to bedtime can be a bit of a challenge. Adding one (or even two) to breakfast can help start your day off right. Fruits and veggies are not only part of helping normal development in kids but they are part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Another part of a healthy diet is Omega-3. I have clients tell me that they don’t want to take Omega-3 because they don’t like the way that they burp them up, sometimes I recommend taking them at bed time so if it happens they are less likely to taste it in their sleep. If you are a parent sometimes by bedtime you are too tired to even remember to brush your teeth. Start your day off right with a burp-free solution. Nature Made has fixed that problem with their Burp-less Fish oil.
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