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5 Tips for Getting Kids to Love Their Veggies

Itís not easy to get your kids to eat well. You show me a kid who likes vegetables, and Iíll show you . . .  my kids.

Yes, my kids eat vegetables. Willingly. Without being paid, threatened or tricked into it.

Before you decide that I am either a pathological liar or a witch doing some kind of vegetable voodoo, read these tried-and-true techniques that I use to get my kids excited about their greens:

Give the freedom of choice. You may not always trust your kids to pick out something suitable to wear to Sunday school. The one time I did we ended up taking communion in a bikini. But one thing your kids can do is take a trip to the produce department and pick a new fruit or vegetable theyíd like to try. Your power-hungry kiddo will be excited to choose whatever they want, and even more excited that the rule is, everyone in your family has to try it. It may even be a veggie you donít particularly like, but be a team player.

Make them your sous chef. Involvement is key. Your kids will love helping to make their meals. Offer build-your-own pizzas, stir-fries and burritos. Arrange an assortment of veggies in small bowls and let them get creative. You might be surprised at what your kids will try.

Itís all-you-can eat. In our house, we donít snack all day long on cookies and chips. If the kids are hungry between meals, though, they know they can always help themselves to carrot sticks, celery and apples. And they do.

Sauce it up. Find a healthy sauce that your kids love and let them use it liberally.  Be it a dip like hummus or a delicious dressing like our Peanut Mmmm Sauce, dip, drizzle and mix it in and your kids will be eating veggies you never dreamed of.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Kidsí tastes are constantly developing and as a parent, itís your job to help them navigate the wide variety of healthy, nutritious foods available to them.  Donít give up after the first try.  When your kid asks for broccoli at 9 a.m., as mine did just this week, youíll see your efforts pay off.  And trust me, that is delicious.

Peanut Mmmm Sauce

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/2 cup fire-roasted tomatoes in juice (i.e., Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes)

1/4 cup natural peanut butter

3 Tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

2 tsp. minced fresh ginger

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbs. agave or maple syrup or 1 packet of stevia

Sriracha, to taste (optional)

In a food processor or blender, combine the coconut milk, tomatoes, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, garlic, sweetener and sriracha and blend until smooth. Serve over salads, noodles, stir-fries and anything else your kids want! Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

By Sarah Matheny, blogger at peasandthankyou.com and author of the newly released cookbook Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love.

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