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Toddler: a small human who is only hungry...

...AFTER you throw the food out that you just offered her 80 times.

Except, NOT in our house.

Battles. Toddlerhood (parenthood?) has grown into picking my battles. And food is ALWAYS a battle I pick. Food and diet are so important, and as an adult, I've experimented with lots of diets and foods, and at the moment, our home follows a macro diet. We eat the major macros at every meal: veggies, carbs, protein, and fats. So Ruby also follows that diet: she doesn't get jelly beans and fruit snacks at every meal, as requested.

Protein is an easy one: eggs, chicken, pork, beef, tofu, yogurt, cottage cheese... Ruby does great with all proteins. Lots of kids do OK with protein.

Fats: also easy. Ruby loves butter (and would eat it by the stick if we let her), peanuts, peanut butter, walnuts, cheeses, avocado (guacamole), and most toddlers I know also do well with fats. I do worry if she gets enough fats, but she seems developmentally fine, and has no digestion/poop troubles, so I guess we're ok.

Carbs: easiest thing EVER. Bread, grains, oatmeal, rice, fruits... Ruby loves all of these.

Veggies: sometimes a STRUGGLE. Really. For most toddlers: am I right? And they're SO VITAL for all those important vitamins and minerals and fiber... so here are a few tips to getting more veggies in your kiddo that have worked really well for us.

1) BREAKFAST. Ruby has a serving of veggies for breakfast every day. Green beans, or riced cauliflower, or broccoli, but she's often hungriest at breakfast, so it is my best chance of getting a good serving in with little argument.

2) SET THE EXAMPLE. Ruby sees her papa and mama eating veggies at every meal, and for snacks. She always wants to eat what we have, so we try to set a good example.

3) SMOOTHIES. This one I've been lazy about... I'm more of a summer smoothie person, but it is an easy thing to sneak in a handful of spinach for a snack or lunch smoothie, with minimal veggie taste.

4) PUMPKIN SPICE YOGURT. So easy! I mix whole milk yogurt (fat and protein) with some puree pumpkin (right out of the can) with a touch of cinnamon, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Ruby LOVES it, and pumpkin is full of good vitamins and nutrients!

5) RICED VEGGIES. I wouldn't know what to do without these. I buy them in pre-riced, in the frozen section, and they can be made with maple syrup and butter and cinnamon, or with salt and pepper and butter... but they're easy, and Ruby eats them almost daily.

6) DIPPING SAUCES. Ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, salad dressings... right now, Ruby really loves "Mimi sauce"... the chick-fil-a dipping sauce. She dips her green beans, cauliflower, tomatoes... almost everything. And she's a dainty dipper, so she eats more veggie than sauce.

7) TRY NEW VEGGIES. In different forms (raw, cooked, noodles) and try different veggies too! Ruby LOVES brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, carrots, corn, sweet potato, and tomatoes, but really doesn't like zucchini or squash, and mushrooms are 50-50 depending on the mood. I never even had brussels sprouts or cauliflower regularly as a kid growing up (in fact, until I was an adult!) and you never know what your kid will like, so try them all. And NEVER deny them healthy veggies. Ruby asked for some yellow tomatoes the other day (on the counter) and I dropped everything else to cut some up for her.

8) BABY FOOD. There is nothing wrong with baby food pouches with fruits and veggies in them. Nice to have on the go in the car too.

9) GIVE OPTIONS. Ruby will often want to have her carbs and fats (some yummy buttery naan) before finishing her veggies at dinner, so we give her the choice. "Three more bites of (insert veggie here) and then you can have two bites of naan.." and if she chooses to NOT eat the veggies, we do NOT give her any naan. We parent. We set boundaries and allow Ruby to see that there are consequences for her choices.

Good luck! May your future be the rainbow of veggies!

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