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If Your Kids Eat Spinach...

A healthy lifestyle is a noble goal and one that our family has been striving after for years. You're always in process, especially because it seems as though research changes yearly. Is it better to use real butter or "spread?" Can whole grains be "smooth" and still count? What carbs can I eat, exactly?

Our kids are an even bigger challenge. I have never said I didn't like a vegetable... ever! As a matter of fact, my husband has said he has never met anyone who loves veggies as much as I do. I guess that's what happens when you grow up eating home-grown produce. But that's for another story. Yet somehow I have two lovely children who will, on a daily basis, tell me that they do not want to eat their carrots, green beans, red beets, or corn. You name it, they don't want it.

Let's not even get started on the dark, leafy greens that are so wonderfully healthy. They would rather go to bed hungry. So I started dreaming of ways to get them to eat their vegetables, preferably without complaint. Preferably, loving them! So here are just a few tips, from one mom to another. It works for me and I would love to hear what works for you!

My first tactic is to wait until they are REALLY hungry. For my family, this is usually right before dinner. They have been busy playing and begin hovering in the kitchen. That's when I make the offer, "I'd be happy to get you a snack. You can have carrots or sugar snap peas."

We've been at this long enough that they know I won't cave into other requests, so they make their decision. Once they have their healthy snack (any veggie will do), they are sometimes tempted to take one bite and leave it. That is when my second tactic comes into play.

"Taste that again," I tell them."What animal do you think would like to eat that vegetable?" If that question doesn't take, I'll work through several others until they have eaten most of what is in front of them. I ask things like: Does it taste like it came from a warm place or a cold place and why? Do you think a monkey (try avariety of animals here) would eat it? Does it taste like it grows on a tree, on a plant, or in the ground and why? Does it taste like the letter "C" (if eating a Carrot)?

Not only are they eating the nutrient rich vegetables now, but they are also learning about it's spelling, where and how it grows, and what animals might be eating it today too!

This game really does work in our house. Even if they are full at dinner (which they probably won't be) at least I know they've had their veggies. And I can make spinach for dinner. They won't eat it, but I can make it.

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