Reviewed By: Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
Written By Else Team
Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and freelance writer with 13-years of experience in the field of nutrition and dietetics. She is the author of three books, including the Anti-Inflammatory Diet One Pot Cookbook. Through her writing, she demonstrates her passion for helping people achieve ideal health and make transformational changes in their lives
Every parent knows what a pain it can be to get their kids to eat veggies, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Often, including these healthy power houses in kids’ diets is as simple as knowing which ones to choose. To improve your chances of success, try to balance tastiness with healthiness, and you may find your kids are less of a picky eater than you think.
1. Bell Peppers
The natural sweetness of bell peppers makes them an obvious choice for introducing healthy veggies into kids’ diets. They’re also versatile. Raw bell peppers taste great dipped in hummus, while cooked ones will liven up a stir fry. If your kid has an aversion to a certain food color, you’re in luck! These come in red, orange, green, or yellow.2. Carrots
There’s a good chance carrots are one of the few vegetables you don’t have trouble getting your kids to eat. Paired with hummus or a yogurt dip, they make for a delicious and agreeable snack. They also go nicely cooked into a hearty stew. These tasty veggies are full of beta carotene, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.
Despite being somewhat unsightly green balls, lots of kids love peas. The sweet flavor and soft texture make them easy to stomach. If your kid prefers a crunch, you can leave them in the pods. Peas are great for growing minds, aiding in the development of brain cells and improving memory.
Broccoli is one of the best sources of fiber around. Lots of kids like steamed broccoli, but if finely chopped, you can incorporate it into salads or sauces too. Raw broccoli also tastes good with a dip. This excellent veggie strengthens immune systems, improves eyesight, and helps regulate bowel movements.
This white vegetable may look a little off-putting to some kids, but if you can get them to try it, you can make it taste however they’d like. Versatility is cauliflower’s greatest asset. Grill it or fry it with spices.Puree some and add to sauces or your favorite Else nutrition smoothie. Any way you serve it, cauliflower is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C.
Spinach is probably the easiest vegetable to hide in food for the pickiest of eaters. It is especially one of the best greens for kids. Add it to any smoothie, like our favorite Else Green Monster smoothie, for a healthy, undetectable boost. If your kids are a little more adventurous, it makes a great base for salads and adds a nice texture to stir-fried vegetables. It’s an excellent source of antioxidants, Vitamin K, and essential nutrients for heart health.
Cucumber’s fresh taste and high water content make them both palatable and refreshing. They are a salad staple, but pickier kids often enjoy dipping them into yogurt sauces or hummus. Either way, they are one of the most vitamin-rich vegetables around. Vitamins A, B, and C are all present, but cucumbers provide more vitamin E than any other vegetable. This nutrient improves the health of kids’ brains, skin, and blood.
Nearly every kid loves the classic ants on a log treat with peanut butter, celery, and raisins. This crunchy vegetable is also great for satiating hunger without consuming too many calories. High water content will help keep kids hydrated while also providing anti-oxidants, beta carotene, and vitamin C.
9. Sweet Potatoes
Not only does a sweet potato have a palatable, sweet taste that kids will enjoy, but it’s also extremely healthy, too. This superfood is low in cholesterol and saturated fat and high in healthy vitamins and minerals like fiber, B6, manganese, and potassium. While some like to sweeten them further, they are delicious when pan-fried, made into a pancake like this one made with our Else formula,or baked with a little butter. They are truly one of the best veggies for kids.
10. Cherry Tomatoes
Cut in half or eaten whole, cherry tomatoes are an easy, flavorful snack. Many kids love to eat them whole but cutting them in half makes the initial bite a little less abrasive. Once your kid learns to enjoy these by themselves, upgrade to regular tomato slices and slip them into sandwiches and burgers for a veggie boost to staple meals.
Sweet corn is one of the easier treats to get kids to eat due to its pleasant flavor. Grilling corn on the cob makes for a fun snack to bite into, but it’s also easy to incorporate loose kernels into a salad or grilled veggie mixture. High fiber content aids with digestion, and B vitamins contribute to overall developmental health.
12. Butternut Squash
Roasted butternut squash is hearty and palatable for kids but making it into soup for dinner, or even a sweet pie are all great options for even the pickiest kids. This flavorful, filling vegetable is high in both alpha and beta carotenes, meaning this will enrich your baby or child’s diet with lots of vitamin A.
13. Summer Squash
There are many different varieties of summer squash, but the two you’ll always find at the grocery store are zucchini and yellow squash. With a mild flavor and a pleasant texture, both are easy to customize. You might be surprised at how versatile zucchini is. Bake it into a cake, muffins, chips, or even cook it into pasta, and your kids won’t even realize they’re eating veggies.
Let’s face it, getting kids to eat salad can be tough. If you can figure it out, though, it’s one of the best ways to feed kids a wide variety of veggies. We recommend using romaine lettuce as a base and chopping it up finely. Slowly incorporate other vegetables they know they like. If you play your cards right, your kid will end up with an entire meal’s worth of vegetables in one bowl.
Lots of kids dislike the look of mushrooms, but their tender texture and mild, earthy flavor make them easy to incorporate into lots of foods. Try starting with mushrooms on pizza to introduce them, then move along to healthier methods. Mushrooms are nutritional powerhouses, providing potassium along with less common nutrients like tryptophan, copper, and selenium.
Asparagus grilled in butter or olive oil is delicious in itself, making it an easy but healthy snack. It also goes well in salads. Once they’ve warmed up to it, the crunchy texture makes it a kid favorite. Just be sure not to overcook it!
Soft, creamy, and full of essential fatty acids that aid brain function, avocadoes are a worthy staple of any kid’s diet. They also have more potassium than bananas. Many kids may like slices by themselves or with a little salt, but if you make avocadoes into guacamole, they make for a tasty dip you can eat with other vegetables. Avocados can also be easily added into desserts or smoothies. Try our Else chocolate avocado pudding or our Strawberry, Banana, Avocado smoothie made with our Else Toddler Formula.
18. Green Beans
Green beans are high in both Vitamin K and calcium, so they benefit bone growth and blood health. This makes green beans one of the best vegetables for toddlers, whose bones grow incredibly fast. Kids who prefer crunchier textures can eat them raw, and those that like soft veggies can eat the canned variety.
Every kid loves French fries, but be sure to feed them healthier versions of potatoes too. Leave the skin on for extra nutrients. Eaten whole, these tasty favorites provide essential iron, protein, carbohydrates, and Vitamin C. Studies have shown they also help kids with sleeping disorders.
15 Reasons Why Vegetables are Good for Kids
You probably already know vegetables are good for you, but they are just as important for kids! Here are 15 reasons why:
1. High Fiber Content
Tons of veggies are rich in fiber, which is an essential component for digestion and proper bowel movements. It also increases kids’ overall energy levels, keeping them alert throughout the entire school day. Lastly, a high fiber diet may decrease the risk of diabetes, which is becoming more prevalent than ever, even in children.
2. Low-Calorie Content
The best diet is one with a high nutrient to calorie ratio. You want your kids to get the best bang for their buck nutritionally. You want the calories that are filling their bellies to be rich in healthy components. Processed foods with little to no nutrition might fill their bellies, but with almost no vitamins or minerals. The decision is easy.
3. They Aid in Digestion
With the rise of processed and empty-calorie foods, digestive issues are at an all-time high. These problems can be avoided with a vegetable-rich diet. The enzymes contained within vegetables help kids’ bodies process all the important minerals, vitamins, and nutrients they need. This is especially true when they are served raw.
4. Veggies Build Healthy Hearts
Heart disease is typically a problem for older adults, but the road to a healthy heart starts early. Lettuce, spinach, carrots and plenty of other veggies improve circulation and artery health. Combine them with exercise for a winning heart health formula that can last throughout your child’s life.
5. Combats Mental Illness
Poor nutrition can worsen mental conditions such as depression or anxiety. Vegetables have been proven to aid in mental as much as physical health. Avocados in particular have been shown to be helpful. If you want an easy way to add avocados to your child’s diet try this delicious Else Avocado Chocolate pudding . It’s easy to ascribe mood disorders to external sources, but remember to consider diet if your child is having problems.
6. Improves Vision
Most people have heard that eating carrots is good for your eyes, but beta carotene, the nutrient responsible, is found in much more than just carrots. Onions, squash, spinach, and peas also contain it. This nutrient reduces the stress that light puts on our eyes, improving long-term eye health. Our bodies also convert it into vitamin A, which has many more benefits. You can find recipes for many of these vitamin A-rich foods, such as spinach or sweet potatoes, in our Else recipes database.
7. Boosts Brain Power
Who doesn’t want their kids to be smarter? Lots of veggies are rich in vitamin K, which improves memory and boosts brain cells. Broccoli, cabbage, and onions are particularly great sources for this compound. In addition, the antioxidants found in almost all vegetables improve brain function.
8. Improves Immune System
The antioxidants and phytochemicals found in many vegetables may just prevent your kid from taking too many sick days. Vitamin C, in particular, is a great and easy-to-find component in nearly all vegetables that boosts immune health.
9. They’re Full of Antioxidants
We’ve talked about antioxidants a bit in this article, but its hard to undersell how beneficial they are. Antioxidants are brilliant tools for combatting and preventing a wide variety of diseases, including heart disease and cancer. These anti-inflammatory nutrients are an essential component of any healthy diet.
10. Veggies Are Loaded with Vitamins & Minerals
We’ve given plenty of examples, but it is important to note the breadth of nutrients in the vegetable spectrum. Nearly everything your body needs can be found in one vegetable or another. The diversity is higher than any other food group.
11. Improve Organ Function
Various vitamins and minerals correspond to the health of different organs, but a well-rounded diet can improve every system in your body. Vitamins A and C improve skin health. Fiber aids the stomach and intestines. Vitamin K improves brain function. Every organ stands to gain from vegetable consumption.
12. Help Lower Blood Pressure
In addition to contributing to future heart disease, high blood pressure can cause headaches, nausea, and shortness of breath in kids. Most people don’t associate high blood pressure with young people, but dietary issues have made the problem more prominent.
13. Set Up Kids for a Healthy Future Diet
Taste buds evolve and change throughout life, but introducing kids to a healthy diet at a young age is a sure way to instill lasting healthy eating habits. As your kids enter adulthood and begin shopping for their own meals, they are much more likely to pick the foods they are used to. Why not set them up for success?
14. Teach Kids About the Variety of Foods
If it were up to them, most kids would live on a steady diet of pizza, hamburgers, and macaroni and cheese. Most times, this is because they simply don’t know better. Healthy food has the potential to be every bit as tasty as their less healthy counterparts. All you have to do is expose them to vegetables.
15. They Can Taste Great!
Some veggies taste great on their own, but lots also act as blank canvases to get creative with. Learning a few tricks with spices and cooking methods can turn a bland pile of veggies into a culinary masterpiece. Experiment a bit, and it isn’t all that difficult to find something your kid will love. Check out our Else recipe database for more ideas.
Eating more fruits and vegetables is a great way to improve the nutrient-density of your child’s diet. Else Nutrition products are also plant-based and can be used as a great nutrient-dense addition as well.
The content and advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment, advice for specific medical conditions. Always consult a pediatrician to understand the individual needs of your child.