Foodie Friday: Including vegetables in a toddler diet

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Categories Foodie Fridays, ToddlersTags


As always, if you have a food related topic you’d like to see discussed here, or a great resource you’d like to share with other moms, post it in the comment section. We love to hear from you!

Here at Foodie Friday, we got the following question from a MOT reader:

“I would love to see recommendations on getting fruits and veggies into toddlers. My two-year-olds loved vegetables of all kinds until they learned to turntheir noses up at them at daycare. Peer pressure starts young! I make a variety of vegetable pancakes, vegetable breads, and veggie nuggets that are successful with one of my girls, but hit and miss with the other.”

Ah, peer pressure at age 2. Life can be tough sometimes, even in daycare! Although, I know that lots of kids get to be picky eaters around 18-24 months. There are several schools of thought on this issue. One school of thought, which you can see reflected in some recent publications, focuses on hiding fruits and veggies in other kinds of food.

Danny LOVES him some chocolate banana smoothie
Danny LOVES him some chocolate banana smoothie

Check out this book or this one for examples of ways to do this. Of course, it doesn’t hurt the popularity of these books that one of these authors is married to a celebrity.

I tend to be more of a fan of veggies that are recognizable (yes, spinach brownies, I’m talking to you!). That’s just my opinion, and I acknowledge that at 15 months my kids have not yet hit the super picky stage. A couple of ways we get veggies in to their diet is mixed in with pasta, with lots of melted cheese on top. Peas, broccoli or spinach are good for this. I often see that the veggies are not eaten as thoroughly as the cheese or pasta, but they do eat some of them.We eat a lot of frozen small mixed veggies that are a mix of lima beans, green beans, carrots & peas. They are easy to prep and the kids seem to be amused by the choices. Oddly, the favorites are lima beans.

We have been experimenting with smoothies lately. Banana, frozen strawberries, vanilla yogurt is great. Or, for a more watery smoothie, use milk. Inspired by my new favorite drink at Starbucks (yes, I may as well direct deposit my paycheck there), we made banana/chocolate smoothies with whole milk, a little sugar, ice and cocoa powder. Those were a HIT! (See photographic evidence.)

Fresh fruit always seems to go over well—fresh raspberries picked off the bush out front were hugely popular, until the raspberry season ended. Fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, melon….what’s not to like? We also do a lot bags of frozen blueberries, defrosting

Notice Danny in the background, still REALLY enjoying that smoothie.
Notice Danny in the background, still REALLY enjoying that smoothie.

the frozen blueberries one at a time. Chunks of veggies in tomato sauce offer tomatos and other veggies. Chili is also popular, and will give them both tomatoes and red pepper.  Maybe fried rice? Make it with some egg and add some veggies?

What do others do? If you have had great success getting fruits and veggies into your two year old, let us know your secrets!

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11 thoughts on “Foodie Friday: Including vegetables in a toddler diet”

  1. Wonderful story on how to incorporate veggies. Thanks so much! I can’t wait to try the smoothie!!!

    PS. – I have added your blog to my favs on my page. Thanks!

  2. We just keep putting veggies out at every meal, with no stress as to whether or not they eat them. I also do a lot of hiding of vegetables.

  3. While I am the WORST at this, we’ve found this is one of those areas in which setting a parental example (at least of consuming without complaint!) is very valuable.

    Also serve a wide variety, making no assumptions about what they will or won’t like. I’ll never forget our pediatrician recommending avocado to our then-toddler Sarah for some good natural fats. We chopped it into wee cubes and she LOVED it…

    Even today, guacamole, hummus, all of those veggie (okay, I know avocado is a fruit…) based dips are a big hit.

    Great post!

    By the way, we made Jessica Seinfeld’s chocolate chip cookies with whole garbanzo beans…we all loved ’em!

  4. i agree with cheryl…just because we don’t like a particular veggie doesn’t mean our little ones won’t! just keep offering them with every meal and eventually at least one will stick :) although i have to admit that hiding veggies is probably a ton easier!

  5. These are all great suggestions! We have been lucky to avoid hiding veggies though our kids are not super picky. My daughter LOVES any kind of fruit. My son is not a huge fruit eater but will eat veggies at times.

    The biggest hit at our house this summer is corn on the cob. My son (22 months) can eat a whole cob faster than I can. It goes with the general interest in whole foods, as well as super sweet corn. We’ll miss it when it goes out of season.

    Another big hit at our house is baked sweet potato fries. Slice them up thin like fries, put a little olive oil spray on baking sheet (salt & pepper if you’d like.. we use a grill flavoring) and bake. My daughter especially love these.

    Soup is big at our house lately, and lots of veggies can be in there.

    Avocados are very popular for both of ours.

  6. Here’s my question: Who told my kids that vegetables are vegetables??? I cetainly didn’t! And yet, they still know that they aren’t supposed to like them!

    My kids do best with veggies if they are in pasta, casseroles, soups, on top of pizza, etc. Just plain vegetables aren’t a huge hit.

    I make it my job to offer, but I don’t force the issue. I am thankful that my kids are on the high end of the weight spectrum, other wise, I might worry more about their food intake.

    Now, if you can just tell me how to keep them from throwing their food on the floor!

  7. Believe it or not – a favorite in our house is beets. from the can. I use hot water to rinse off most of the red (and to warm them up a bit), cut them up, and my picky PICKY eater loves them. Sweet potatoes are done the same way. They seem to be okay with any non-green veggie.

    The kids seem to like the veggies that come out of the crockpot … usually when they’ve been cooked with chicken and Italian dressing all day – nice and mushy with a great taste to them. (I’m happy to give out the recipe if anyone wants it!)

    I’ll also grate carrots into mac & cheese… and do the soup thing.

    I definitely need to try those sweet potato fries! Great idea!! And chili – why didn’t I think of that? :)

  8. My kids love vegetables, but not the “green” ones! :) They will eat peas though–so, we’ve got that going for us.

    I puree a lot of spinach and brocolli and ‘hide’ it in casseroles, etc. But, I ALWAYS serve a green veggie with their other vegetables at lunch and dinner.

    My husband and I both love vegetables, so I’m not sure where they got their hatred for brocolli! Then again, it could their favorite food next week.

  9. My 3-year olds do their best veggie eating when I make a plate of cut raw vegetables like cucumbers, baby carrots, red peppers, broccoli (you could steam some of those a bit if you need them a little softer) and put a bowl of dip on there. I often put one of these plates out on an end table in my TV room when dinner is running late and they eat it all! The dip (usually just ranch dressing) definately helps vegetables go down but something about grazing off a serving plate while playing as opposed to having to eat what’s placed on your own plate seems to appeal to my kids. Plus eating them when they’re hungry and there’s nothing else ready to eat yet certainly helps!

  10. Okay – I had to come back and say that I tried the sweet potato fries. Logan (the 10 month old) LOVED them! Maggie (3.5) would only eat the “skinny” ones, and Burke (also 3.5) had the required “no thank you portion (a bite) and didn’t want any more. I also have to say that I enjoyed them – and I don’t even like sweet potatoes! LOL (I’m a potato purist 😉 )

    Also…tried the V8 Splash (V8 cut with fruits). Maggie drank about 1/2 a cup and then decided she didn’t like it. Burke did the same as with the sweet potatoes…one sip and nope! Ah well. it was worth a shot 😉

    Next venture: smoothies!

  11. A new resource being use to improve kid’s nutritional status is a new book “The ABC’s of Fruits and Vegetables and Beyond.” Out only a few months and already being bought in quantity for class use. I hope parents and teachers interested in getting kids to develop a friendly attitude towards fruits and vegetables should take a look at it.
    It is designed for kids of all ages as it is two books in one – children first learn their alphabet through produce poems and then go on to hundreds of related activities. Coauthored by best-selling food writer David Goldbeck and Jim Henson writer Steve Charney. More at

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