How to get your kids to eat more vegetables using the French method of a three course meal
- Hungry kids
- Tasty vegetables
- The three course meal
Hungry Kids: By making sure your kids are sitting down at the table, hungry, there are more chances they will try new foods while learning the sensation of hunger and full cues (and this includes with the vegetables). By serving veggies first with the three course meal (see how easy it is below) the vegetables are the only food on the plate and are the highlight of the first course (when kids are the hungriest!)
Tasty Vegetables: Bland steamed vegetables are not something I like to eat and I wouldn’t serve them to my kids. While steamed vegetables have the image of being healthy to eat, bland steamed vegetables are relatively tasteless. I do steam our vegetables, but then I either sauté them in a small amount of garlic and olive oil to add flavor. Sometimes I just serve veggies raw with a vinaigrette, or with another sauce like ranch dressing. What are your great ideas to move your veggies from tasteless to tasteful?
The Three Course Meal: The three course meal can be adapted to your meals with a few simple changes. Although a three course meal sounds fancy (and it can be at some meals), it isn’t necessarily haute cuisine. In general, the French use the same plate to serve the meal: the same plate for the first course and then the main meal. Cheese is sometimes the last course, again served on the same plate.
Here is what to do:
- Place a normal plate at each place setting.
- Take whatever vegetable you are having for the meal and serve it on the plate. Do not serve the vegetable as a side dish, serve it directly on the plate for the first course. Often we have salad for the first course, you can serve this first too, as the vegetable course. A green salad with tomatoes, grated carrot, raisins, grapefruit slices, cucumbers (or just one of some of these!) makes a healthy first course or you can be more creative (see some examples at end of article).
- Then comes the wipe. In France bread is served with the meal in the the form of pieces of baguette (although at our house, I ration out the bread for after the first course and main meal, otherwise kids eat too much bread and not enough of the meal). The piece of bread is used to wipe off the plate (and is then eaten) between courses.
- Then the rest of the meal continues.
- If cheese is the last course, it is again served on the same plate. The wipe is used in between to clean the plate.
Sometimes the first course is fancy or sometimes easy, but there is always the first course.
Examples of easy first courses:
Grated black radish and carrot salad
Swiss chard and smoked bacon sauté
Steamed broccoli and tomato sautéed in garlic and olive oil
Cooked snap peas with minced garlic, vinegar and sesame oil
Spinach salad with nuts and raisins
Lastly, two other tricks-
- encourage your kids to help cook these first courses
- sit down and eat them together.
Finally, if you child really doesn’t like veggies, don’t be discouraged, don’t make food issues a source of stress or a battle, just make sure they get their “5 a day” with fruit. You (and me both) may be surprised by what your child will taste, eat and love. I was ‘shocked’ to how my six year old loved the black radish salad (the first picture of normal first courses) and she took three helpings! All we can do as parents is to put food on our children’s plates; the rest is up to them!
If you have a trick or special way you use to have your kids enjoy their vegetables, please give some feedback in the leave a reply section below. Your insights can help others.
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