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Adventures in Veggieland

      Vegetables are a food that the majority of children in the US do not eat enough of throughout the day.
      Center for Disease Control and Prevention
      National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.
      Research has identified several strategies, such as repeated exposure and experiential learning, to increase children's vegetable intake.
      • Holley CE
      • Farrow C
      • Haycraft E
      A systematic review of methods for increasing vegetable consumption in early childhood.
      • Nekitsing C
      • Hetherington MM
      • Blundell-Birttill P
      Developing healthy food preferences in preschool children through taste exposure, sensory learning, and nutrition education.
      This book provides a number of activities and recipes to increase children's familiarity and intake of vegetables.
      The book is divided into sections based on the 4 seasons. For each season, 5 vegetables are introduced, all of which are relatively common vegetables, such as broccoli and green beans. Each vegetable has several activities and recipes based on the Three E's: expose, explore, and expand. The author touches on some of the science supporting these areas but could have expanded on what the literature currently recommends to help children increase vegetable intake.
      The first section discusses expose, in which the child becomes introduced to the vegetable and familiarized with it without the pressure of having to eat it. The exposure activities are creative and range from making beet tattoos to pepper pets. Caregivers who are able to provide vegetables for play will also need to pick up supplies such as toothpicks and plastic animals for the activity.
      After conducting the vegetable exposure, the next activity is to explore, in which parents and children are encouraged to cook the recipes and taste the vegetables. Recipes are simplified to show in what cooking parts the kids can participate and what parts the parents must complete. The number of ingredients varies across the recipes, but most recipes in this section are basic and contain items that can be found in any grocery store. The recipes also vary in the preparation time required, from 10 to 90 minutes.
      The final activity involves expanding the recipes and tastes associated with the vegetables. These recipes are more complex and involve incorporating vegetables into familiar foods such as sweet potato pancakes and cauliflower fried rice. Some of these recipes, such as tomato basil sorbet, are likely going to be unfamiliar to children. Therefore, it should be emphasized that repeated exposure likely will be necessary for many of the vegetable recipes with which the children are not familiar. Caregivers following the recipes should not to be discouraged if the child will not eat the vegetable after the first or even after the fifth exposure.
      The book makes encouraging children to enjoy vegetables sound easy, but it is a process. Nevertheless, this book does a great job of offering activities and recipes to familiarize children with vegetables and become involved in the kitchen, and it is hoped, taste the recipes.
      Adventures in Wonderland would be a good resource for parents with kids who are hesitant to eat vegetables, and also for kids who like vegetables and want to try new recipes. The key is to remember that getting children to eat vegetables will take time. Therefore, it will be most effective if parents and caregivers continue to offer vegetables in different forms and recipes to children, and most of all, do not give up.

      References

        • Center for Disease Control and Prevention
        National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.
        (Progress on children eating more fruit, not vegetables.)
        • Holley CE
        • Farrow C
        • Haycraft E
        A systematic review of methods for increasing vegetable consumption in early childhood.
        Curr Nutr Rep. 2017; 6: 157-170
        • Nekitsing C
        • Hetherington MM
        • Blundell-Birttill P
        Developing healthy food preferences in preschool children through taste exposure, sensory learning, and nutrition education.
        Curr Obes Rep. 2018; 7: 60-67