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How To Get Your Kids To Eat Their Veggies

10/02/2014 05:57 EDT | Updated 12/02/2014 05:59 EST

This random thought popped into my head one recent evening: Neither of my daughters ate any vegetables that day.

Not a single one.

Aaaack! Bad mother! Bad mother!

Wait. Take that back. Why am I taking all the blame? What about The Hubster? Revised aaaaack: Bad parents! Bad parents!

"You haven't had any vegetables today," I pointed out to my 11-year-old.

"Not true," she countered. "I had onions on my pizza."

Well, there you go, I tell myself, taking heart. She had a tablespoon of onions, and neither of her parents smoke crack, so it's all good, right? As much as I adore my guilt-easing "at-least-I-don't-smoke-crack" parenting mantra, we've got to do better in the vegetable department. Canada's Food Guide says children aged 9-13 need six servings of fruits and veggies every day. That's not happening in our house.

While my youngest daughter is less apt to turn her nose up to veggies, my oldest has simply started to refuse to eat most vegetables. How did this happen? When she was a toddler, she ate every vegetable imaginable, inhaling little pieces of broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and peppers. Then she just stopped. Broccoli and zucchini are "gross"; she won't touch potatoes unless they are French fries; the "white stuff" on peppers makes her "sick." Her allergy to peanuts (a legume) means that peas and beans are out, and we recently discovered her pollen allergy means she should avoid fruits such as apples, peaches, pears and kiwis unless they are cooked.

We've tried sprinkling veggies with cheese to no avail. When I chop up veggies in lasagna, she manages to avoid them. If I send baby carrots or cucumbers in her lunch, they come home untouched. She'd rather be hungry than eat them. This means that supper is our only chance to get veggies into her, so we have Supper Table Stare Downs almost every night, an epic battle of wills and shrewd negotiation.

"If I eat three carrots, can I leave the table?" she asks.

Sigh.

I've tried rationalizing with her, explaining the importance of eating vegetables that will help her grow and keep her from getting sick. Nope. Not really caring about that.

I have had success hiding vegetables with these two recipes:

1) Michael Smith's Hidden Vegetable Tomato Sauce (So delicious and easy!)

2) 100 Days of Real Food's Whole Wheat Carrot Applesauce Muffins (These are the BEST muffins I have ever made and contain NO sugar)

That said, I don't have time to hide veggies in everything I cook, and I can make only so many muffins. I continue to offer her veggies often, but I'm battle weary, folks. Ready to admit defeat.

Then I imagine her little body deficient in countless vitamins and minerals, and I strategize my battle plans for the week ahead. I presented my dilemma to her younger sister, age 8.

"What do I have to do to get you and your sister to eat vegetables at lunch and during snacks?" I ask.

"Pay us five bucks a day," she answers, not missing a beat.

"I'm not paying you to eat vegetables," I retort.

But I can't say I'm not tempted.

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