Written by Marni Shoemaker, UNL Dietetic Intern
Despite many interventions to increase vegetable intake, 93% of children in 2010 do not meet daily recommendations (CDC, 2014). Encouraging children to eat more vegetables is a major priority since vegetables provide important nutrients necessary for a healthy body, and the dietary patterns learned as a child are very influential to dietary habits later in life.
Vegetables are very good sources of important vitamins and minerals essential for children. It is important to find ways to include these nutrient-rich vegetables into foods children will find fun and enjoyable to eat!
|Calcium||Healthy bones and teeth||Spinach, broccoli, collard greens, turnip greens, edamame|
|Folate||Important for healthy pregnancy and reducing risk of neural tube defects||Butternut squash, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, endive, split peas, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, romaine lettuce, zucchini|
|Iron||Healthy blood and normal functioning of all cells||Spinach, lentils, white beans, lima beans, chickpeas|
|Magnesium||Healthy bones and proper functioning of the body’s cells||Spinach, artichoke hearts, butternut squash|
|Potassium||Maintain healthy blood pressure||Butternut squash, broccoli, lima beans, lentils, sweet potato, white potato tomato, zucchini|
|Vitamin A||Healthy eyes and skin and protect against infections||Butternut squash, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, sweet potato, tomato, celery|
|Vitamin C||Heals cuts and wounds, keeps teeth and gums healthy||Bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, onion, potato, spinach, summer squash, tomato, sweet potato, cabbage, zucchini|
There are many meal and snack options to make that incorporate vegetables without taking away from flavor. Adding in these meal ideas can increase the amount of vegetables eaten per day in an easy, delicious way!
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Makes 4 servings
- 2 c. uncooked elbow macaroni-both whole wheat and gluten free work
- 1 small butternut squash (or half of a large one)
- 1 T. olive oil
- ½ T. butter
- ¾ c. low-fat milk (can use dairy, almond, or coconut)
- 2 slices white onion (diced to very small pieces)
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese
*Optional: fresh Parmesan to shred on top
*Optional: Chopped green onions
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Cut squash in half and remove skin and seeds.
- Cut flesh into small cubes and place on sheet pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
- Brush squash with the olive oil and sprinkle the pepper and garlic evenly over top. Roast for about 25 minutes or until soft.
- While squash is roasting, cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a small skillet, melt butter on medium heat. Add onions and sauté until soft.
- Place squash, onions, and milk into blender and puree until completely smooth.
- Pour puree over cooked noodles and mix evenly.
- Stir in shredded cheese.
- Add water to adjust consistency as desired.
- Serve with shredded parmesan and chopped onions if desired.*
Peanut Butter Banana Zucchini Oatmeal
Makes 2 servings
- 1 c. rolled or quick oats
- 2 c. water or milk (you can also cook with water and add milk to it after cooking)
- 1 small zucchini
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 T. natural peanut butter
- 1 small banana
- 1 T. chocolate chips
- Finely shred or grate zucchini into a microwavable bowl.
- Add in oats, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and water or milk and mix together.
- Microwave for 1:30.
- Stir contents.
- Microwave another 1:00.
- Stir in peanut butter and top with chopped banana and chocolate chips.
Other additional flavorings
- Cocoa powder
- Chopped apples
This post was reviewed by Morgan Hartline MS, RD, LMNT Extension Educator. Photos by Marni Shoemaker.