My sons’ favorite meals are tacos, burgers, pizza, and chicken nuggets. I can’t blame them; after all, these foods are all delicious. However, my kids prefer the bare-bones versions of these delicacies: meat and cheese only. Oh, and carbs.
Meat, cheese, and carb (tortilla) = taco.
Meat, cheese, and carb (bun) = burger.
Meat, cheese, and carb (crust) = pizza.
Meat and carb (typically fries) = chicken nuggets.
Not one shred of lettuce. Not one sliver of tomato, pepper, or mushroom. Not a steamed broccoli or carrot to be found.
My boys are vegetable-haters.
I try to provide a balanced meal by including a green salad or raw or steamed veggies as a side, but getting them to eat a single bite of something green, yellow, orange, or red is a challenge. Some days I win this battle and some days I don’t.
Their plates are a brown, tan, and white collage of “blah.”
To top it off, one of my sons doesn’t really like fruit either. (How is this possible?!? I’ve clearly failed in parenting somewhere along the lines.) Grapes and apples. That’s it. Those are the only fruits he likes. Not strawberries, not watermelon, not oranges or pineapple. Not even bananas.
Carmen Miranda would be rolling over in her grave. Ay carumba!
To be fair, my daughter likes all fruits and most vegetables and, in fact, prefers them to meat. Her challenge is getting enough protein.
So, between a lack of vegetables, fruit, and protein and an abundance of mostly-empty carbs, my husband and I knew we had a problem on our hands. Our kids were needing better nutrition, and we needed to figure out a way to make it happen.
Solution: Operation Smoothie.
Operation Smoothie is our covert, undercover tactic for sneaking fruits and veggies into our kids’ diets. Disguised as a refreshing drink, these treats pack a powerfully healthy punch.
Operation Smoothie has been in effect for the past three months, and the kids and my husband are having a blast making fun combinations out of frozen fruit, greens, yogurt, and protein powder. They try unique fruit concoctions each time and are discovering new tastes to love. (Did I mention that my hubby isn’t a big veggies fan either? Suddenly it’s all making sense!)
Adding in Greek yogurt or protein powder ensures they’re getting the protein they need, and a generous handful of greens assures this mama’s heart that ACTUAL vegetables are reaching their bodies.
Besides smoothies, veggies can be sneaked into all kinds of dishes from marinara sauce to muffins. Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food is a great cookbook outlining many ways to include vegetables in the foods you’re already eating to boost the nutrition while sneaking them past your kids.
Now, it would be ideal if my boys were eating vegetables straight off their plates and acquiring a taste for them, but that’s not happening… yet. I’m hoping their excitement about Operation Smoothie will translate to an open mind about fruits and vegetables on their plates and the adventurous spirit to try them.
But, it might not. I don’t remember eating many vegetables growing up either, but I love them now. Maybe it’s a kid thing. Maybe it’s a maturity thing. Or maybe you just don’t like vegetables much until your taste buds die significantly enough that you can’t taste them anymore.
Either way, this is our solution for the meantime. And I gotta say, vegetables never tasted so good.