Mama on a Mission: Introducing Fruits & Veggies to a Picky Preschooler

Y’all. I’m on a mission. And, unfortunately (or fortunately!) for 3-year-old George, he brought it upon himself.

This summer, I am determined to convince, cajole, and/or inveigle (thank you, Google!) my picky child into trying new produce.

This declaration reminds me of my pre-parenting days. Remember those days? Yeah, the days when you were a Super Snob. I used to glory in looking down my childless nose (the kind that couldn’t yet smell a blowout at 20 feet) at parents, whispering to my husband about how we would never allow our children to do…XYZ. I was an outstanding parent back in those days. I always seemed to have a solution to any parenting problem.

We’ve spent a lot of time wheeling around the produce section identifying produce. Once Olivia is done with her cookie, she’s over it.

Well, fast forward 3.5 years, and here we stand. One of my biggest frustrations is food. Olivia eats like a champ. She’ll finish her dinner, ask to get down out of her high chair, then want to climb up in my lap to finish my dinner. I realize this could all change on a whim, but it’s her current pattern.

Sweet George, on the other hand, goes from thrilled with life to literally turning his chair around to face the wall when dinner is served. Dinner is a battle. And I know we’re not the only ones fighting this battle. I just figure we have Frozen-themed gummy vitamins on our side, so that’ll tide them over health-wise until they actually discover that produce tastes decently, right? RIGHT?!

Well, a month or so ago, I discovered Lois Ehlert’s Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z at the library. George always enjoys Ms. Ehlert’s books, so I figured, why not? Plus, he’s always a sucker for ABC books, regardless of the subject matter.

Shortly after I found this book, my kiddos stayed with my parents for a week while the Hubs and I hightailed it to Alaska, as we’re wont to do. Apparently, my son subjected his doting grandparents to reading nothing but this particular book for a week, as they all had it memorized when we made it back across the country. That was a month ago, and we’re still going strong! George even adds little sticker eyeballs to the produce pictures and laughs hysterically to himself.

And so, I’ve decided to take action.

A is for asparagus, you say? Well, then, let’s eat some asparagus! (Yeah, that didn’t happen.)

And she enjoyed the blueberries–pesticides and all!

D is for date, and you’re asking for a date? OK! Let’s spend $6.99 on a package of dried dates. You tried a small nibble? Huzzah!

F is for fig. Hmmm, well, Fig Newtons supposedly encase dried figs, so check!

G is for grapes. Still a no-go in the grape department.

Our Publix doesn’t seem to carry gooseberries or huckleberries, so we’re down for the count for those horizon-broadeners.

J is for jalapeño and jicama (which George pronounces with a “hard” J and finds hil-arious). I decided forcing a jalapeño on a preschooler may not be the wisest course of action, assuming I want to maintain his trust. I did get him to eat a few pieces of jicama, though! How? I followed this recipe from Low Carb Yum and made them look like French fries. Is this cheating? No idea.

K is for kiwifruit. He watched me cut one open, then ran away with his hands over his mouth.

M is for melon. He actually asked for cantaloupe the other day. Also, the angels sang.

I braved “P is for papaya” today. Honestly, I can’t blame the kid for not trying one of those tropical intrigues. Have you ever cut into one? I swear those squishy, black seeds look like caviar. Blech. And the pretty, pink fruit part isn’t as tasty as advertised.

Maybe someday I’ll take a decent food photo. Rutabaga would be the perfect addition to a fall meal. And it’s 100 times easier to deal with than butternut squash.

R is for rutabaga! Have you ever noticed how some produce is always in your grocery store’s produce section? Like, who is buying all the turnips, fennel roots, and parsnips? Are they literally the same vegetables that have been sitting there for like five years, or do they regularly appear on someone’s dinner table? Well, after trying rutabaga for the first time, I think I’ve been missing out! I couldn’t get George to try a bite (though I did sneak a piece on his fork when I held out a bite of BBQ-sauce-covered pork chop because I’m sneaky), but I LOVED it! Then again, I used this recipe and doused the root veggie in browned butter, so it’s hard to go wrong.

S is for star fruit. Anyone know when a star fruit is in season? I’m keeping an eye out, because I think it’d be a fun-shaped fruit to get George to willingly accept.

It’s been a no-go on all things berry…strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry…etc.

Y is for yam. This is my only sure-fire vegetable (other than raw carrots and hummus). Put cinnamon on it, and he’s a happy little man. I haven’t even introduced brown sugar. Muhaha!

Well, the color green is repulsive at our dinner table, so I think I’ll try beets, eggplant, or maybe plum next. I could probably get him to try fried okra. And since I’m counting a Fig Newton as a win, I guess soaking a veggie in oil has about the same health benefits.

OK, fellow parents, how in the world do you get your kids to try something new? I know I’m not the only one fighting the good fight!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Dana says:

    My kids are much more willing to eat things that are frozen. Frozen peas, frozen corn, frozen berries, etc. Frozen peas are often the only green thing they eat all day. They eat a lot of frozen peas.

    I also tell them that it’s okay if they don’t like that thing now, their taste buds just have to “grow up some more.” You’d be surprised how willing they are to try something again later to see if their taste buds have changed. I also whip out some examples (when you were a baby you hated peaches. Here’s the funny faces you would make. But now you like peaches. Your taste buds grew! Let’s see if they grew to like broccoli too!). Have examples prepared for everyone in your extended family/friend group. You will be asked.

    Some people say “if you let the kid make the food with you, they’re more likely to try it!” That never worked for mine. But worth a try.


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