Veggie snacks: beyond carrot sticks

Kids love to snack, so turn that to your advantage.

My two boys, ages 13 and 16, are usually quite ravenous for dinner. But once they see meat and some sort of starch (usually the whiter the better), that’s all they can think about. So I’ve learned that the best way to get them to eat veggies is to offer them about 15 minutes before dinner is served. They get a plate of raw vegetables to share — carrots, peppers, and cherry tomatoes, or a big bowl of salad greens. Nothing that exciting, but good stuff nonetheless. Almost always, the plate or bowl is empty the next time I come in the room. This works especially well if they get the raw veggies while they’re working on homework, watching TV, or playing on the computer.

— Kathy P.

In Russia, where my husband is from, good cucumbers and tomatoes are available for only a short part of the summer, but they are particularly delicious there. Often, people just cut them up and serve them with a little bit of salt, rather than making them into a salad with a dressing that might overpower their flavor. Other vegetables can be served this way, too. Our 8-year-old loves to eat radishes like this.

A little table salt on raw vegetables has nowhere near the levels of sodium that processed snacks do, so I feel OK about indulging my children’s craving for salt this way. I also find that it makes me more inclined to serve raw vegetables with dinner on a busy weeknight when I don’t have to commit to making a salad: I often don’t have an extra 10 minutes to spare, but I certainly have 30 seconds to chop a radish and hand my son the salt shaker.

— Sarah K.

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