How I Got My 4-Year Old to Like Broccoli

How I Got My 4-Year Old to Like Broccoli

One topic of discussion in my mom’s circle is our kid’s nutrition. Most children tend to balk at the idea of eating vegetables.  While I have parenting questions with my own kids, there’s one thing I somehow got right: my 4-year-old likes to eat broccoli.

About a month ago, my mom watched the kids so we could have a date night.

We received a voice mail message from our son saying: “I hope you have a fun night, but I really want you to buy more of that yummy ranch broccoli. I love you . . . bye!”   It’s one of those moments where you find yourself laughing like crazy, but also beaming with pride!  I don’t know that it’s really any genius parenting move, but he really does like broccoli – among other vegetables. Here are my “get-your-kid-to-like-broccoli” suggestions.

1.    Teach him/her about their favorite superhero. I realize this may not work on your 10-year-old, but it worked like a charm on my preschooler!   Super heroes are big and strong. Why? Because they eat super healthy food that helps them grow big and strong…just like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, etc.  I kid you not, he’d try anything… then after every bite he’d come up and show me his muscle and how he was growing. What can I say, he’s a ham… but we were onto something.

2.    Flavor it. Broccoli and some other vegetables do have something of an acquired taste… so work with it. The first time I ever got him to ask for seconds was the time I flavored it. A secret in my house: Extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice make everything more delicious. I steam vegetables, then toss them with the magic combo, lightly salt and pepper them and, if I’m feeling really crazy, top it with some parmesan. So easy – and so delicious. The requested ranch broccoli? I buy it in the frozen foods section; four minutes in the microwave and everyone’s happy. Find what your kids love and work with it. Love Asian cuisine? Try garlic and soy sauce. Italian? Work it into a marinara sauce or Alfredo. Marinate it in Italian dressing. Flavor does wonders.

3.    Acknowledge it.  When we tell our son that he has to try a new food, he regularly resists the experience.  Our rule is that he has to try new foods at least once . . . but we don’t make him eat all of it – or even take a certain number of bites. But, when he does try something new, we make a big deal out of it – even if he doesn’t care for it. As adults, we don’t like everything we try either!  Use this as a positive reinforcement to applaud that they did try!

Supposedly, it takes 20 exposures to something before kids truly make up their minds.  Even if the first try wasn’t a success, keep trying, but in different ways.

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