Can tomatoes help your kids eat more veggies? Dietitian Corinne Dobbas weighs in!
As school books are bought, back-to-school shopping is underway, and daily meal prep becomes crazier than ever—vegetables are easily forgotten. They’re not always a child’s best friend. In fact, sometimes they may appear as a kid’s worst nightmare, especially if forced to eat their veggies before leaving the table.
But, what if there was a way to get your kiddo to dig into the veggies more? And what if that way happened to be tomatoes?! This revelation may sound quite odd, but I’ve found that kids are more likely to try new foods, if they have something familiar along with them that they actually like. And since spaghetti with marinara and pizza with tomato sauce happen to be right up there in kids’ favorites—tomato products are right along with them.
TOP 5 BELOVED WAYS TO DOCTOR-UP VEGGIES WITH TOMATO PRODUCTS
That being said, when trying to get your wee-one to gobble-up veggies, tomatoes may help get the job done a tad better. Remember, it can take a child over 15 times to try a food in order to like it. But, the more they’re exposed to a food, the more likely they’ll eat that item later on. Plus, parents are huge role models for kids. Kids model behaviors. If Mom and Dad are eating the veggie, kiddo is more likely to enjoy too.
Below are some simple ideas on how to cook-up some veggies, so your tot is more hot to trot when they come to the table.
- Roasted Broccoli Topped with Chunky or Stewed Tomatoes and Grated Parmesan Cheese: Cut broccoli florets into bite-size pieces, place on a baking sheet, spray with olive or canola oil, and cook for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pull out tray and top broccoli with desired amount of chunky or stewed tomatoes, lightly sprinkle with shredded or grated parmesan cheese, salt to taste, and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until desired tenderness is achieved.
- Sautéed Spinach with Diced Tomatoes: Sauté 4-6 cups uncooked spinach in ½ tablespoon of olive oil. When the spinach becomes wilted, add 1 cup roasted or diced tomatoes and let simmer until warm.
- Grilled Zucchini Topped with Tomato Paste: Cut zucchini into strips, place on the grill, add a pinch of salt and olive oil, and top each strip with ½ tablespoon of tomato paste. Cook until warm.
- Veggies in Tomato Sauce: Simply steam vegetables of choice until cooked. When vegetables are done, add them to a simmering chunky marinara sauce and serve as the vegetable. The more sauce, the “saucier” the mixture will be. This makes a great healthful topping (while adding moisture and flavor) for grilled or baked chicken, turkey, fish, or lean beef.
- Tomato Soup with Veggies: A super easy make, but a crowd pleaser. Nab your favorite tomato soup and doctor-it-up with all the veggies desired. Mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, celery, peppers, and string beans make fabulous additions.
HOW DO YOU GET YOUR KIDS TO EAT MORE VEGGIES?
Corinne Dobbas, MS, RD is a San Francisco-based registered dietitian specializing in nutrition, health communications, and social media. She develops news segments for television stations, writes articles for various health and wellness sites, speaks at conferences, frequently guests for wellness groups in the online social media realm, counsels, and serves as a nutrition and social media consultant. Passionate about empowering people to reach and maintain a state of optimal wellness, Corinne’s messages reach thousands of people every day. Corinne strives to help people cultivate the best, healthiest, and happiest “you” there is. To learn more about Corinne, visit http://www.corinnedobbas.com/.