Joy Bauer’s Tips for Getting Kids to Eat More Vegetables

Every parent’s predicament: How do I get my children to eat more vegetables? Although there’s no secret sauce (sorry ketchup), there are tried and true methods to get your kids to eat more adventurously. But what are they?


The team at Meatless Monday spoke with Joy Bauer, bestselling author and health and nutrition expert on The Today Show, about her new book, Yummy Yoga: Playful Poses and Tasty Treatsand her creative ways to encourage kids to eat healthier. Yummy Yoga pairs healthy, kid-friendly recipes with fun yoga positions, giving the whole family the opportunity to get in the kitchen and on the yoga mat. But what sets this book apart is the collection of adorable yoga sculptures made out of fruits and vegetables that accompany each recipe (warning: they definitely encourage playing with your food).

To celebrate the launch of her book, Joy shared with us some easy-to-apply tips and tricks that will spark a passion for veggies in even the pickiest of eaters. This Monday, follow Joy’s words of wisdom and help your kids establish a loving relationship with plant-based foods.

Tip # 1: Make Healthy Food Fun

The key to encouraging kids to eat healthfully is to make food fun and exciting. That’s the whole point of Yummy Yoga. The pages are filled with tasty, kid-friendly recipes — smoothies, fruit skewers, veggie pizzas, super food ice pops, etc. — and playful yoga poses to entertain and excite little ones as they discover healthy, new habits.

Tip #2: Eat More Produce Yourself

Kiddie see, kiddie do. If your little ones (and big ones) see you eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, they’re more likely to do it, too. A study from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found that preschool age kids were more likely to eat bell peppers (and prefer them in the future) after being shown a video of people eating the veggie compared to kids who didn’t see the veggie video. Encourage your children to eat more fruit and vegetables by enjoying them yourself, and by pointing out other people (grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends, babysitters, and so on) who enjoy them, too!

Tip #3: Think Out of the Box

If a picky spouse or child doesn’t like steamed broccoli, don’t give up. Instead, try another spin. Whip up a batch of Broccomole Dip (I mash steamed broccoli florets into guacamole), Roasted BroccoliCreamy Broccoli SoupBroccoli Tots, or top it with cheese sauce or marinara…you get the idea. Be creative and experiment until you find a recipe that your picky eater does like.

Tip #4: Give Them the Power of Choice

Give picky eaters the power to choose—a fun recipe, a new fruit or a veggie to prepare as a side dish, or even the theme of the meal. It’s a simple equation that will make mealtimes less fraught: more freedom = less fussing. When you involve picky eaters with planning and prep a few nights each week, you’ll find they’re less likely to argue about finishing their veggies. Good food, good mood…sounds appetizing, right?

Tip #5: When in Doubt, Hide it

Sometimes, it’s easier to just slip veggies into their favorite foods. You can add a handful of kale or spinach into smoothies; add chopped broccoli, diced carrots or yellow bell peppers into mac and cheese (no brainer!); swap out standard noodles for veggie noodles, like spaghetti squash or zucchini linguini (aka zoodles); mix cauliflower rice with traditional rice; blend canned pumpkin puree into marinara sauce and taco meat — the options are limitless!

Tip #6: Try it on a Monday

Monday follows the weekend, which is when most people do their shopping and prep work–the veggies have been purchased, cleaned, peeled and chopped. Plus, it’s the perfect way to reset and reboot for a healthy and energizing new week ahead.

Try Joy’s recipe for Heart-y Artichokes, Green Beans, and Leeks from the book and check out Yummy Yoga for more delicious recipes!

Want some more plant-based cooking tips for you and your picky eaters? Check out The Kids Cook Monday for more recipe inspiration and fun kitchen activities for you and your children to do together.