I will constantly remind you that what you feed your children when they are young instills a lifetime of eating habits. But how do you get those veggies to taste better… butter? The topic of butter hits home for me. My mother almost always smothered my veggies in butter when I was a little girl. Butter was always present on the veggies my grandmother served as well. Most of us enhance at least a few foods with a little extra fat, sugar, or salt to make them taste better. However, smothering your child’s veggies in butter is more likely to teach him/her to love butter, not the veggies hiding under it. My youngest child can eat butter with a spoon – gross!

A small pat of butter mixed into a bowl of vegetables is one way to make the veggies a bit more enjoyable, but don’t overdo it. Butter is high in saturated fat and calories, and if your child becomes too dependent on it to eat healthy foods, he/she could have weight problems down the line. There are other ways you can encourage your child to eat his/her veggies and other healthy foods.

Try some of these tips:

Prepare veggies with a bit of healthy fat.

Then you don’t need to add butter after cooking. For example, roasting broccoli, carrots, peppers, onions, and green beans with a drizzle of olive oil gives vegetables a delicious, slightly sweet flavor that many kids love.

Cheese, please.

Adding cheese as a topping can be a healthier choice than butter because cheese has calcium and protein. Full-fat cheese is fine for children younger than 2, but give older kids reduced-fat versions of cheddar, Jack, or mozzarella on a baked potato. An adventurous eater might even go for naturally lower-fat cheeses, like feta or goat cheese, crumbled over his veggies. My kids love “sprinkle cheese.”

Make it fun.

Make veggie kabobs, or serve veggies with a dipping sauce, such as yogurt, salad dressing, or tomato sauce. (These can all be used as toppings as well.) The more fun you make eating vegetables, the more your child will want to.

Make things appetizing.

Children are bound to prefer a colorful stir-fry of summer squash and zucchini sticks or a salad with red and yellow bell peppers to a shapeless heap of creamed spinach.

Involve your child.

Let him help prepare the meal by choosing the salad ingredients or picking out a new veggie to try.

And remember: If at first you don’t succeed … It’s great that you’re trying to get your child to eat more vegetables. Continue to offer fruits and vegetables to your child at every meal – and at snack time, too. After a while, he/she’ll start eating them.

What are some ways you enhance your veggies? Are you guilty of using to much butter?