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Real Food: Get Your Kids to Eat Their Vegetables

Real Food Veggies

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I told you yesterday that our kids have always been mostly good eaters. However, there was one thing they never liked much–raw vegetables. I know that I share some of the blame because I honestly didn’t know to offer them raw vegetables. It wasn’t something that I ate as a child, or that was offered or available to me for the most part, and not really something that I added to my own diet either. My oldest son would eat tomatoes, but that was it.

Last spring when we started our first real food journey (yes, we’ve had some bumps in the road since then, but we’re back on track), my youngest son literally gagged when he was trying to eat a raw carrot. I know my children and he was not faking or being defiant. That’s how “yucky” raw vegetables used to be to my children.

Now, they happily eat a variety of raw vegetables, and frequently request salads. 

Because I’ve been able to see such a drastic change in my children, I wanted to share some tips for those of you looking to get your children to eat their veggies without a battle.

I’m sharing now because I think these same tips can be used for any diet change.

Remember you’re doing it for them.

As with making the switch to real food in general, it helps if you remember that you’re doing this for them. You want to nourish their bodies in the best way that you can, and veggies are very good for them!

1. Ease them into it

When I first started trying to get my children to eat their veggies, I dressed them up a bit. I served homemade ranch dressing with carrots and cucumbers, and some all-natural peanut butter on celery.

This was beneficial for us because it helped them get used to the texture of eating raw vegetables, which was something they weren’t used to. Adding something fun, and something that they enjoyed, helped with their reception of it.

Note: Although we sometimes have dressings or dips for our vegetables, they no longer require it and will happily eat them without it.

2. Keep at it

This change in my children did not happen overnight. It came after weeks of offering them raw carrots, cucumbers, celery, salad, etc. Our taste buds can change and acclimate if we keep at it, and I believe this is a worthy pursuit.

So, I kept encouraging my children to eat their veggies. They were always offered. My oldest is always asking for snacks, so I would give him free reign with veggies–he could have baby carrots or celery any time he wanted, without asking. Since he usually has to get permission for snacks, this was a fun treat for him.

3. But don’t force it

I believe this was key for us, though I know some parents will disagree. I never force my kids to eat anything. I offered them. I put a baby carrot or celery stick on their plate. Each time, they were required to eat 1 bite. That’s it. If they didn’t like it or didn’t want to finish it, I never made them.

I didn’t want vegetables to be attached to the negative feelings of being forced to eat something that made them gag, etc. I wanted good, healthy foods to remain a positive thing for my children.

So, while I kept at it, and continually offered them, I didn’t completely force the issue.

Other Tips:

  • Give them choices: Sometimes choices can be overwhelming. However, if they feel like they can maintain some control over their diet, they may be more willing to try new things. Rather than choosing for them, ask if they’d prefer celery with peanut butter, or carrot sticks. (or whatever you have available).
  • Get creative. I’m not personally an advocate of hiding veggies in other foods, but there are ways to have fun with veggies. Cut them into fun shapes with small cookie cutters, or fashion them into interesting shapes like animals, etc. (get some ideas here)
  • Join the process. We grow a garden, and my boys love it! I really think that helping to grow the veggies, has helped them be open to eating them. Maybe you can’t grow a garden (or don’t want to), but you can get your kids involved in other ways–preparation, selecting them at the grocery store, etc.

Real Food Series

This post is a part of my Real Food Journey series. Click here to see all the posts.

31 Days of Real Food Series


Real Food: With Kids

Real food with kids

Photo Credit

My children have always been what I would consider good eaters. We’ve never given them a lot of sugary treats, and from the time they started eating solid food, they have eaten the same meals that we’ve eaten. So, for the most part, this has been an easy transition for them because of that. However, there have been a few difficulties for us, worsened by the amount of junk food marketing toward kids. So, for those of you who might have a tougher road ahead, I wanted to offer some tips and encouragement.

Remember you’re doing this for them.

First and foremost, I think it helps to remember your mission. You’re doing this for them. At times, we parents are faced with the difficult task of doing things for our children that aren’t fun at the time, but are much better in the long run. This is one of those things. 

You’re not only choosing to nourish your children with healthy foods instead of junk, you are teaching them the value of real food.

The patterns you create now will become lifelong habits for your children. Those habits can either be destructive habits that they will continue or have to try to break in the future or healthy ones that will help them, and the choice is yours. That’s a big responsibility, and one that we need to take more seriously.

Obviously, your children will make their own choices at some point, but bad habits are incredibly hard to break, and it’s better to help them form those good habits now.

Remember this is a season.

It will be hard at first, but the more you stick with it, the easier it will get. The first few days will be tough, but the second week will be a little easier. The next week even easier. After a month, you’re building new routines, new habits, a new normal for your family.

You can do it!

Practical Tips

  1. Be patient. Completely overhauling one’s eating habits is no small thing. Depending on how much junk food and processed foods your family was accustomed to eating before, it may be very difficult. It’s probably hard for you (I know it is/was for me!), but you have the benefit of mentally preparing yourself and being the one in control. Your children are being pulled along for a ride they didn’t sign up for. You’re making a good choice for them, but it will still be tough.
  2. Clean out your pantry. I’ve already talked about this as a whole, but I think it’s important in helping our kids adjust as well. If those bad things aren’t in the house at all, they will get used to it more quickly.
  3. Be consistent. This change gets easier as you go along. If you stick with it where your kids are concerned, with will get progressively easier. However, if you give in and give in, you’ll either give up altogether, or prolong the negative effects. Stick with it, mamas.
  4. Give them choices. There are tons of great real food meals that you can make! No one needs to be deprived or to force your children to eat foods they don’t like. I’m not one of those short-order cooks, but I do believe in valuing my children as I would any other member of the family, so I consider their preferences when it comes to our meals. Obviously, if your kids live on chicken nuggets or fast food this may be more difficult, but try and find some common ground to work from, and let them feel like they have a little bit of control.
  5. Make treats. I definitely wouldn’t advise going all out with the home-made-from-scratch real-food remakes of junk food. However, it can go along way to make a few things here and there so that your kids can have some of their favorite comfort foods with real, wholesome ingredients.
  6. Don’t make it an issue. Just feed your kids like you always do. Address things as they come up, with specific requests, but otherwise just cook dinner and serve it without fanfare. You know you’re making changes, educate them about the changes here and there, but there is no need to belabor the details with them. Just as with yourself–focus on the things they can have. 

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing even more practical tips for making the real food switch with kids, specifically how I got my kids to start eating raw vegetables.

Real Food Series

This post is a part of my Real Food Journey series. Click here to see all the posts.

31 Days of Real Food Series


Real Food: 5-Ingredient All-purpose Homemade Bread

Real Food Bread

As I said in this post, living in a small town means that if I want a “real food” bread, I have to bake it myself. Because of this, I wanted to find a loaf that would be fairly simple.

I call this my all-purpose bread because we use it for everything. We slice it and butter it to eat with a meal sometimes, we use it for toast in the mornings, and even for sandwiches.

It’s a little chewy, and if you cultivate it, you can get a nice crusty crust on this bread. (I prefer it softer and chewy so I wrap mine. If you want a hard crust, you’ll want to avoid wrapping it tightly, and instead just cover it lightly if at all).

It’s actually a french bread and it seems to “save” better than many homemade sandwich breads I’ve tried, which tend to dry out faster.

With just 5 ingredients, this is one of the easiest breads I’ve found, so it’s great for beginners not used to working with yeast. I have long ago memorized the short ingredients list and method so that I can throw this bread together without looking at a recipe, which makes it much more time-efficient.

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread


  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 packet (or 2 1/4 tsp) dry yeast (much less expensive to buy in bulk)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 cups white whole wheat flour (I prefer this kind)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine water, yeast, and honey. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the top looks foamy.
  2. Add salt + 1 cup flour, and mix vigorously with a wire whisk, until mostly smooth.
  3. Add 1-2 more cups of flour until you have a dough that you can work with. Roll onto flour-dusted countertop and knead for 5-10 minutes, adding flour to your hands as needed if the dough gets sticky. Note: Don’t add too much flour here or your bread may be dry, just add enough that you can work with it.
  4. Place dough ball in a large bowl, covered with a kitchen towel, in a warm place for around 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. Punch down dough, divide in half, and shape into 2 loaves on baking sheet. Cover with towel in a warm place for around 30 minutes.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.



Real Food Resources

Real Food Resources

Those first few days of a major diet change are tough. Really tough.

One of the things that helped me a lot during my journey so far was to use some of these resources to help me keep my “why?” at the forefront. That’s the most important thing, especially at first.

I found these books fascinating. The idea of eating actual food instead of lab created, chemical-based, food stuff, has always made so much sense to me (well, at least for the past few years when I actually started thinking about it). I’m so thankful that the Lord has helped me in having the strength so far to put it into practice for myself and my family.

I started with In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, and I still recommend that as a good starting point. Another strong recommendation from me is Nourishing Traditions. It’s a fantastic resource full of tips, information, recipes, and more.

Here are some other resources I recommend. Many are ones I have read, and some have recently been added to my wishlist based on recommendations from friends and real foodies.

Books & Documentaries


Articles & Websites

Real Food Series

This post is a part of my Real Food Journey series. Click here to see all the posts.

31 Days of Real Food Series


Real Food: Focus on What You CAN Have

real food can have

Completely changing your eating habits can be a big undertaking. You are to be rewarded for investing in your health–and you will be with the health benefits you’ll see. However, that doesn’t mean it will be easy. In fact, most things worth doing don’t come easy. But it will be worth it. Yesterday, I talked about some basic guidelines when it comes to eating real food. The problem is that processed ingredients are hiding in so many places. But, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming!

One of the best ways that I’ve found to stay on track is to keep a positive attitude. Focus on what you can have–wholesome, nutritious, delicious real food.

Instead of lamenting the foods you can’t have anymore, focus on all the delicious foods you get to enjoy, guilt free.

Fruits & Veggies

Feel free to eat all the fruits and veggies that you want! Fresh is best, but frozen is great also. We eat canned veggies too. Again, make sure that you check the ingredients list, especially on packaged fruits and veggies–many add sugar, preservatives, and dyes.

Get these locally at a farmer’s market when you can! Local and in season is always best.

Meats & Seafood

Again, local is best. Look for organic, pastured, grassfed meats and wild caught seafood. The documentary Food, Inc. offers a very eye-opening look into the meat industry and it’s not pretty.  Michael Pollan suggests eating less meat (mostly plants), and he makes a case for this in his book In Defense of Food.

Whole Grains

Remember, you’ll want to avoid refined white flour, but you can have whole grains. Whole wheat, or white whole wheat flour, brown rice, oats, etc. When purchasing corn products, look for non-GMO.

For bread products, unless you have a great bakery nearby, you will most likely need to make them homemade in order to avoid the huge list of processed ingredients found in nearly all store bought bread products. Later in the series, I will be sharing my favorite, easiest, 5-ingredient homemade bread.

Dairy Products

Whole milk, cheeses, plain yogurt, eggs. Enjoy these! One note about the cheese is that yellow cheeses have coloring, and shredded cheeses have unnecessary added ingredients to prevent mold, and to keep it from all sticking together. The block cheeses that you shred yourself with a grater are better. Look for the basic necessary ingredients.

Natural Sweeteners

You want to avoid the refined white sugar, like I mentioned yesterday. However, you can still have yummy treats with natural sweeteners. I’m going to share more in depth about that later on in this series, but we focus on 100% pure honey, and 100% pure Maple Syrup.


Again, I will be sharing more ideas later in the series, but the options for snacks are endless! Home-popped popcorn, nuts, dried fruits (like raisins, etc…just make sure to read the ingredients list as some of these add unnecessary sugar), seeds, fruits & veggies, and more!

As we get into this series, I will be sharing more specific ideas for real food snacks and ideas.

Real Food Series

This post is a part of my Real Food Journey series. Click here to see all the posts.

31 Days of Real Food Series

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