Eat your broccoli. One more bite of cauliflower. No dessert until you’ve tried the daikon.
Getting kids to eat their veggies can be a lot of things: a request, an order or even an ultimatum. And if veggies are at the center of your family’s diet, that gets old super fast. But if you focus on your child’s likes beyond the realm of food, rather than their dislike of certain vegetables, you just might make veggies enticing enough to avoid plea bargains over peas. At the very least, you’ll have fun creating these veg-filled edible art projects together.
If your kid loves dinosaurs …
… make dino kale chips. Black kale goes by a few names: lacinato, Tuscan and—most promisingly for Jurassic Park fans—dinosaur kale. Show your little paleontologist the dark green, pebbled leaves: they really do look reptilian.
Wash, dry, de-stem and tear up one bunch of this kale. Spread the pieces on a couple of parchment-lined baking sheets, lightly drizzle with olive oil and mix with your hands. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and vinegar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 300 F.
Lay out an after-school feast for your child and their long-necked/three-horned dining companions (make sure they can all reach—this is very important). And yes, you should absolutely call this green kingdom The Land Before Snack Time.
If your kid loves puzzles …
… build a roasted veggie Rubik’s Cube. According to Cornell researchers, kids like to see six different colors on their plates, as well as fun shapes. A Rubik’s Cube has it all. Plus, roasting makes veggies’ natural sugars caramelize, and kids tend to like sweeter foods. Win-win-win.
Cube colorful root veggies like beets, yams and carrots. Toss them with a splash of olive oil and roast at 450 F for 35 to 45 minutes. Roast a few whole bell peppers and zucchini chunks too if you want a more vibrant palette, and cube them after they’ve come out of the oven. Then stack the veg (you might want to do this around a block form for stability). If you’re feeling ambitious, use folded pieces of seaweed snacks to create the black grid lines of the Rubik’s Cube.
If your kid loves nature …
… bake forest floor flatbread. Turn a whole wheat flatbread (using dough you’ve made or dough you’ve bought) into a scene of fallen leaves and toadstools for your budding botanist. This is a great opportunity to remind outdoorsy kids that while eating mushrooms at home is good, they should never eat mushrooms they encounter in the wild.
Before you bake the bread, scatter chia seeds and black sesame seeds on the lightly oiled dough to create soil, plus fresh rosemary for pine needles. Poke mushrooms and little asparagus spears into the dough, and scatter torn Swiss chard and radicchio leaves across the scene. Make a pinecone by pressing sliced almonds into a dollop of vegan cream cheese. Top whole almonds with small mushroom caps or dried berries to transform them into acorns.
Once the bread comes out of the oven, use a toothpick to poke a few small holes in it. Stick fresh chives and pea shoots in the holes for grass. Scatter with fresh greens (baby kale is particularly leaf-like!).