Food has to be fun for toddlers – especially if it’s something less appealing like vegetables. Finger foods are great at this age, so try offering a dip like houmous or mashed avocado with brightly coloured strips of carrot, cucumber and pepper. Spare a thought, too, for how you present vegetables to your child; arranging them in a funny face on his plate, or making bright orange mash with carrot and swede, can be more appealing than just dishing up a portion of boiled veg.
Another great way to get vegetables into your child is to disguise them. By this age, your toddler should be eating proper meals rather than purees, so whatever you’re cooking, aim to add a portion or two of vegetables. Grate carrots and courgettes into pizza or pasta sauce, mix a tin of reduced salt baked beans into a shepherd’s pie, or throw some grated carrots into your muffin mixture. Remember that while fresh vegetables are great for your child, tinned and frozen varieties also count towards his five a day.
Children are also more interested in food if they know where it comes from, so as well as getting him involved in shopping and cooking, plant a few tubs of vegetables on your back doorstep. Even young toddlers can get involved with watering their salad leaves and digging up carrots, which will help to make vegetables fun – not boring.
Answered by: Catherine Jeans, clinical nutritional therapist, www.thefamilynutritionexpert.com