Picky eaters have a plethora of reasons why they don't like certain foods, such as broccoli. The texture may not feel good in their mouths, the flavor is too strong or maybe not strong enough, and the smell isn't good. For the pickiest of the picky, sometimes anything green is marked with a big null sign. Broccoli is fairly bursting with nutrients and is a very versatile food. Experiment with preparation methods and take a positive attitude toward the cruciferous vegetable to get your picky eaters to try broccoli.
Broccoli is a powerhouse of vitamins packed tightly into both the florets and stalks, according to The World's Healthiest Foods, a resource associated with the George Mateljan Foundation. Vitamin C is among its primary attributes: a single cup of broccoli contains more than 200 percent of the recommended daily allowance of the antioxidant vitamin. The green veggie contains vitamins K, A, and several B vitamins responsible for the production of red blood cells and vision health. The vegetable is low in calories and high in fiber: a one cup serving of broccoli contains 43 calories and 18 percent of your daily fiber requirement. Broccoli offers protein, iron, calcium and potassium, too.
Picky eaters may not be swayed by the nutritional value of broccoli, but could be more likely to try the vegetable through unique and appealing presentation. Broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked. Picky eaters who have food texture issues may be more likely to enjoy crunchy broccoli in its raw state than a softer, cooked stalk.
Add a low-fat ranch dressing or yogurt-based dip to partially mask the taste until your picky eater becomes accustomed to the taste of the vegetable itself. Steamed broccoli can spice up any type of dish from Italian pasta to Asian-inspired stir fry, a light meal of quiche, or even a garden salad. Combine broccoli with flavors your family member already enjoys, such as soy sauce, garlic, or cheese, to entice him or her to try a bite with the rest of the meal.
Last Resort Tricks
According to the Ohio State University, only 16 percent of elementary school-aged children and 11 percent of teens meet government guidelines for vegetable consumption. This fact may make parents feel desperate to include broccoli and other high-nutrient produce items into each meal. When all else fails, pull these tricks out of your sleeve to get your family to eat broccoli. Your approach will vary depending on the age of your picky eater, but may be worth a try before throwing in the towel. Here are some ideas:
- Encourage imagination. Talk up eating "broccoli trees" with preschoolers. Ask your child to imagine what the other foods on his or her plate look like.
- Set a good example. Make positive facial expressions and sounds when eating broccoli. The French National Institute for Agricultural Research found that kids were more amenable to trying different foods when their parents looked happy while eating the item.
- Hide the evidence. This method doesn't really encourage picky eaters to try broccoli, but provides them with the beneficial nutrients the vegetable has to offer when hidden in foods your child likes, such as pasta sauce.
Remember, children often need to try a food several times before liking it. Keep pushing the broccoli (cheerfully!) and perhaps someday your picky eater will find the vegetable delicious.