Teaching Kids Healthy Habits Giveaway

Do you find it challenging to get your kids to eat green food (and no, green M&M’s don’t count!)

Raising kids to eat veggies doesn’t have to be full of angry standoffs. A recent study by the Journal of Preventative Medicine found that creativity can be a more effective approach. The study found that kids ate twice as many veggies when they were rebranded with a silly name. For instance, “Tasty Tree Tops” beat plain old “Broccoli” hands down.

One mom calls carrots “Cosmic Carrots” and another mom calls them “X-ray Vision Carrots.” A school renamed green beans to “Silly Dilly Green Beans” and found that doing so increased the number of students who ate the vegetable that day.

This is the principle behind a www.ViviLeDish.com, a wellness education site for parents, teachers, and caregivers of 3-8 year olds. The site features a cookbook and pantry full of ideas for rebranding healthy foods.

Today I’m giving away up to $25 worth of Vivi LeDish merchandise.

If you’d like to enter the random drawing, leave a comment below (if you’re reading this in email, click here to leave a comment) about a strategy or fun food name you use to help your family make healthy food choices!

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40 Responses to Teaching Kids Healthy Habits Giveaway

  1. Amy M says:

    I make a healthy version of chicken parm (grilled chicken, homemade sauce with lots of veggies, whole wheat pasta) that we call “cheesy chicken”. It’s one of my kids favorites.

  2. Beth says:

    Sometimes when my kids need extra encouragement to eat their vegies, my husband will act as if he is one of the vegies (ventriloquist style). Saying, “I hope she doesn’t eat us..” The kids think it is hilarious, and eat the food.
    I also consistently put pureed sweet potato in pancakes and spinach in scrambled eggs. Smoothies are a great way to get those healthy things into their diet, while being tasty.

  3. Rhonda Vanderwest says:

    I set out raw veggies (carrots, cucumbers, celery, etc.) and low-fat ranch dip while I’m making dinner. When the kids wander in with “the hungries,” they can eat those and they do! That’s a hard time of day, when I’m getting dinner ready, and I like that they are eating healthy food (me, too)!

  4. Hollie S. says:

    This would be perfect for my son – he has sensory issues and it’s difficult for him to eat many foods. Thank you for this giveaway!

  5. Sandi Haustein says:

    I just try to expose my kids to healthy food and don’t make extra stuff if they don’t like what we’re eating for dinner. I always try to have one thing that I know they’ll like but then also roasted broccoli or salad or carrots with ranch. We encourage them to try a bite of something even if they think they don’t like it, and a lot of the time, they do like it. 🙂

  6. Amy says:

    I sing veggie songs and offer a “dip”.

  7. Alice says:

    We have a three try rule. You have to try everything on your plate – at least three bites. One to taste it, one to decide if you like it or not, and one to be really sure! That way they at least get three bites of everything! 🙂

  8. Lindsey Price says:

    Our strategy is getting the kids in the kitchen with us. I recently took my oldest to a “kids can cook” class at the local hospital and saw him eat things he typically would have never eaten. Those simple recipes from the class are some of his favorites and he often asks to take his lunch to school so he can make them. He loves teaching his friends how to make the recipes and what makes them healthy at the lunch table. I really think making them a part of meal planning and prep makes them more interested in trying new/healthier foods. I also think researching about nutrition together instead if lecturing about what they should and shouldn’t eat has made our kids more receptive to eating healthier.

  9. Jodi says:

    My kids love my husband’s mashed potatoes. What they don’t know is that the are made with half potatoes and half cauliflower. My husband and I always giggle when they go back for their third helping!

  10. Misty says:

    My “strategy” per se, is having my girls help in picking out recipes they would like for the week and involving them in making the food. We sift through recipes in recipe books, magazines, and online to see what catches our eyes and ears. This summer, they picked out what vegetables they wanted in their garden bed, took care of it, then “sold” us the produce to use in our meals. I also teach my girls about why we eat the way we do… how healthy eating affects our health, bodies & minds and also how “junk” affects our health, body & minds. They don’t always like what we make, but they are learning how their bodies feel when eating healthy vs. not-so-healthy. And my hope is that they take this into their adulthood.

  11. Abby says:

    Dip, dip and more dip. 🙂

  12. Adie says:

    We don’t focus on the name so much as the food’s benefit to us. Even drinking the cereal milk left in the bowl is a trial for my 3 year old, but tell him it makes his bones strong, and he downs it quickly. We try to know what the food does for our minds & bodies and then focus on that since it’s usually a benefit we want!

    Also, once they’ve determined that there are some vegetables they just don’t like, I try to make sure we always have on hand the ones that they do even when we try new ones.

  13. Jane says:

    We put veggies or salad on our kids’ plates and tell them that they don’t get to have a roll or piece of bread with their food until the veggies are gone. Our kids have fun with edamame, popping the beans out of the skins and straight into their mouths. (watch out for flying pods!) We also use Lawry’s for seasoning and let them dip veggies in ranch periodically, too.

  14. Jenny Anderson says:

    Jim Gill has a silly sneezing song. We had the foods in the song and the kids loved them! Macaroni and cheese and black eyed peas! I joined a csa and we have a relationship with the farmer and his wife. We always have fun visiting the farm, especially when the kids can pick beans, tomatoes or dig for potatoes. We also have our own garden.

  15. Heather says:

    We call broccoli ‘trees’ and my 8yo daughter loves it even without cheese sauce!

  16. Mandi Donaldson says:

    We call peas, little green people and carrots are their flying saucers.

  17. Dawn says:

    I add shredded vegetables to any meatloaf or pasta dish.

  18. Janine says:

    When our kids were toddlers, we called broccoli trees and stumps, both of them have always loved it! We are fortunate to have kids who love almost everything now that they are ages 5 & 6. We did make a point to sit down as a family for all of our meals and all eat the same thing. My husband travels a lot, so most of our meals are the kids and I. Even when they were babies and toddlers, we would sit down, pray and eat together. My youngest daughter tried one bite of spinach at least 200 times when she was a toddler. Somewhere between age 3-4 she decided she like it. Spinach is now one of her favorite foods. 🙂

  19. Heather says:

    I’ve tried to offer different kinds of veggies since my kids were little, but there are just some they will not eat . . . knowingly :o). I add pureed squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin to many different dishes including spaghetti, lasanga, chili, even macaroni and cheese. One day I’ll reveal my secret to them and surprise them that they’ve been eating those certain veggies all along!

  20. Paula Lloyd says:

    I have found that when I allow my seven year old to “help” cook the meals then he actually eats it with no fuss….I guess it has to do with him feeling as if he cooked it so we might as well eat it!

  21. Shannon says:

    When we sit down for dinner our rule is to make sure you have 2 servings of veggies. I offer at least 3 choices (carrot stick, celery and something else) they get to decide what they want to have and gives then some control.
    We have also made finding healthy cereal a game. I challange the kids to find cereal with atleast 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protien with less than 10 grams of sugar and $3.00 or less. They love the challange! It empowers them to find healthy choices and then they get to make the choice.

  22. Sunny says:

    With my kids being 8 and 5 (and the youngest not onto solids yet), we focus a lot of our “strategy” on education. Once they understand how foods work for or against our bodies, it is easier for them to eat healthy. My son had sensory issues and we worked with OT for a long time before he was able to overcome many of his food/ texture issues. He’s not nearly as adventurous as his sister in eating, but he tries nearly everything. We also grow a garden, which motivates them to eat everything we grow. I also like to make sure healthy foods are finger-ready (carrots, celery, cucumbers) for when they need a snack because they are “starving!” Introducing new foods at a social setting also helps– my daughter loves edemame because we ate it while out with friends, and both of my kids love all kinds of cheeses (havarti, applejack, etc) because they tried them at a dinner gathering with friends from church.

  23. Tiffany says:

    We stroll through the veggie section at the grocery store and name off all the veggies. We’ve recently started adding in some of there benefits. My son is always excited to pick out his fruits and veggies at the store and then is excited to see which veggie, that he picked at the store, is on his plate. That part is like a fun surprise game and I say something like: “Look Daddy, we are having the broccoli Isaiah picked out!”.

  24. ann hassett says:

    Sam I Am Yams!

  25. Sarah says:

    I give my kids “Banana Chips” or “Carrot Chips”. I just slice them at an angle and they think they’re much more fun to eat!

  26. Rachel K says:

    I honestly don’t use many tricks, besides smoothies and things like pumpkin oatmeal–but they kniw there are veggies in them. Thankfully my kids like healthy foods, and we just have the expectations that they will eat them. I also frequently give them veggies/fruits as snack, and my kids do eat them if they are truly hungry.

  27. Brandi says:

    I am so blessed to have a daughter who LOVES her veggies! We have always had a “No thank you bite” rule and as it turns out, nearly everything she tries, she really likes! One way that she LOVES her veggies is roasted! I toss any veggie but we particularly love broccoli, in olive oil and Montreal Steak Seasoning with a bit of minced garlic and roast it at 450 for about 45 mins. YUM! There are never left overs when I roast veggies!

  28. Lori R-M says:

    I finally figured out that my kids like fresh veggies and really don’t like them cooked. Once I quit trying to put them in things it was much easier on everyone. However my homemade soup is a different story. …they like the veggies in there. ??

  29. Kirsten says:

    I was able to get my kids to eat okra, and other veggies I could cut small by throwing them in the air and catching them in my mouth! They loved it and wanted to try for themselves. Once they caught it, they realized they loved it! Now my 7 yr old’s fave food in the world is cauliflower and broccoli (as long as its steamed)!!

  30. Laurel says:

    I make fruit shakes that have spinach, flax seed and avocado ‘hidden’ in them. I also use my food processor to whip up spinach and cheese and a little mayo into quesadilla fillings. I certainly need more ways to get them to eat veggies that aren’t hidden!

  31. Rebecca says:

    So many good ideas here! Thanks everybody. I, too, like sneaking shredded veggies into everything. I recently came up with a great way to get a wide variety of veggies into my toddler: “pancakes.” In our small food processor, I combine one egg and one small potato with just about every vegetable in our fridge; add a little raw salt or garlic powder or herbs; process it until it’s a smooth, fluffy batter, and pan fry it like one would do with actual pancakes. Baby loves them, and that way he’s getting a wide variety of vegetables all in one meal. Plus they’re easy for him to hold and feed to himself. Also easy to freeze and reheat later.

  32. Carrie Ann says:

    To get my kids to eat green beans I stick two in my upper lip and pretend I’m a walrus! The kids think its a riot and want to try it too! They will then gobble up their “walrus teeth!”

  33. Korey says:

    Always on the look out for healthy ideas. I have 3 daughters – and only one is really picky. We have always told them they need to eat veggies before other items, and it works for the most part. My second daughter could very well end up my vegetarian. After offering her a plethora of choices for lunch today, she chose raw cucumbers with a little light ranch dressing.

    I’d love to hear ideas for helping young children monitor their portions, too. My oldest is beginning to eat faster and faster these days and always wants 2nds or 3rds. She is 5 (and I’ve read that 5 year olds eat more than any other age kids) and I want her to find a happy balance to find that “just right” feeling for her tummy. What have other mommies done to encourage this in your kindergarten/1st graders?

  34. Barb says:

    Well, some would say it is the wrong approach, but we offer dessert for those who empty their plates. Sometimes dessert is a cookie or even their favorite fresh fruit. (Tonight it’s leftover birthday cake!) What we have found is that the more often our children are exposed to a different vegetable, the more likely they are to learn to like it. The result in our house is four children who are very good eaters. They know what they like and what they don’t like, but they also know they are expected to eat a little bit of everything that is offered.

  35. Sherri says:

    It’s all about the dinosaur eggs…brussel sprouts!

  36. Diane says:

    Hi jill
    I use to call my kidney beans the “fart makers”. You’ll bet, they are getting eaten with enthusiasm, because who can create the most tasteful fart ;-)))
    I know that it is dull and no thing for well risen kids. But I discovered, that especially teenagers like to burb and fart with a big smile on their faces.
    My elder one loves cucumbers, She really yearns for them.
    But my little one refuses everything that coul contain healthy molecules.
    I use to smooth every vegetabel into a soup. So they do not know what it contains ;-))
    there are so small corns we call them “dragon teeth”.
    Bless ya

    Diane

  37. Barb says:

    My “trick” is to involve the kids as much as possible in selecting and preparing the food. Sometimes this backfires, as they watch me put onions in something that looked good until then, but for the most part it encourages them to try at least a little of what they have helped with.

  38. Heather Carlson says:

    Many times I serve my son different veggies on his plate and he typically wants to eat what us on my plate!

  39. Rebecca Morris says:

    My girls sit up at our island where I prepare all of our meals. They are allowed to sample most of the ingredients as I cook. Also, letting them “help” me gets them excited about the meal!

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