We have all been there — stuck at the table with an untouched plate of vegetables in front of us. As it grew colder, or perhaps smellier, it taunted us. We knew we were not getting up until it was gone. Our parents hadn’t yet figured out ways to get their kids to eat their greens without downright forcing us. But there are ways to get kids to eat vegetables without the stand-off. Check out Natures’ Ninja recipes to make easy meals with onions and other vegetables. And below, find seven ways to help your children get the nutritional and flavorful benefits of onion in their meals.
Need ways to get kids to eat vegetables? Understand this first.
According to bon appétit, “children’s palates are largely geared to energy-efficient foods until they hit adolescence.” That could explain why they are naturally geared to love sugary foods. Sugar = high calories. Additionally, their senses of taste at this point in their lives are razor sharp, an evolutionary tool we were all given to stay away from toxic, foods. But as we age, we lose taste buds, they stop regenerating and our sense of smell dulls. Both smell and taste play vital roles in whether a food is appealing to us. Maybe that is why we suddenly developed a taste for enhanced dishes of broccoli or cauliflower as adults.
If you are asking yourself the many ways to get kids to eat their vegetables, Children’s Health has some good tips. One key takeaway is to consistently offer kid-approved vegetables to their meals. One-offs won’t cut it.
Fun fact: onions contain natural sugars that enhance their tastes when cooked. You can literally use a cooked or caramelized onion in many foods to not only enhance the flavor but the nutrition. You still get the high nutrition benefit of onions, while using them as the main ingredients your children will love, such as soups, hummus, ice cream, even cake.
Can you cook the nutrients out of onions?
When you cook with onions, you change their flavor and consistency. You may lose a little of the sulfur content, but it doesn’t destroy the nutritional benefits. Some onion varieties are much sweeter when cooked. Dietitians at Tufts University have stated that onions, whether eaten cooked or raw, are “nutrient powerhouses.” The Onion — Nature’s Ninja says, eat up! They are good and good for you.
The National Onion Association created Nature’s Ninja in 2018 to help kids and parents understand not only the nutritional and flavorful benefits of eating onions but the many ways the onions’ “skills” are beneficial in general. Did you know that onions can help calm coughs, ease the stings of insects, clean your barbecue, and power factories?
Needing some more inspiration? Try these ways to get highly nutritious onions into your meals
Here are seven kid-approved ways to add onions to meals and improve nutrition. We contend it is just one of many ways to get kids to eat vegetables:
- Hidden Veggie Sauces: Blend cooked onions into tomato sauces, pasta sauces, or even creamy sauces like macaroni and cheese. The onions will add flavor and nutrients without being too noticeable. This is one example of how to get picky eaters to eat veggies.
- Colorful Kabobs: Thread onion chunks onto skewers with kid-friendly foods like colorful bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and lean meats. Grilling or baking these kabobs can introduce a fun and nutritious twist to mealtime.
- Stir-Fried Delights: Incorporate thinly sliced onions into stir-fries with plenty of colorful vegetables and bite-sized pieces of lean protein. The sweet and savory flavors will entice young palates.
- Sneaky Soups: Puree cooked onions and add them to soups, stews, and chilis. The kids won’t even realize they’re enjoying an extra dose of nutrients in their favorite comfort foods. Sure, you’re sneaking vegetables into toddler food. But what they don’t know…
- Baked Onion Rings: Create a healthier version of a favorite snack by baking onion rings coated with whole-grain breadcrumbs. This crunchy and flavorful treat makes for a great side dish.
- Onion Quesadillas: Sprinkle finely chopped onions onto whole wheat tortillas along with melted cheese. Cook until the cheese is gooey and the onions are tender, and serve with a side of salsa for dipping.
- Tasty Toppings: Dice raw onions and use them as toppings for kid-approved dishes like hot dogs, burgers, tacos, and even pizza. The added crunch and flavor boost can make mealtime more exciting.
Remember to adjust the preparation and presentation to suit your kid’s preferences, and feel free to get creative with these ideas to make them even more appealing. Onions and a variety of vegetables prepared in a variety of ways can make truly healthy meals for kids, so don’t give up.