Thursday, August 6, 2009

Don't Be A Vegetable Snob

My kids eat vegetables. Many mom bloggers would follow that statement by saying "I am lucky." But I won't say that. I will say that my kids eat vegetables because I've made it a priority and I haven't been a vegetable snob. By that I mean - yes - I resort to canned vegetables. I know that there are moms gasping in horror by that statement. But consider this:

On the NuVal scale:

Fresh Green Beans score a 100

Del Monte No-Salt Added Canned Green Beans also score a 100

Del Monte Fresh Cut Whole Green Beans (Canned) score a 59

I'll admit, it wasn't until I started working for NuVal that I switched to the No Salt Added variety. Canned vegetables that add sodium, fat or sugar don't score so well. However, those without additives score nearly as well as fresh.

So here is how my canned vegetable habit started. I was at a playdate back when my first child was about 15 months old. We had a wonderful playgroup of 5 moms, all with kids born within weeks of each other. We were all venturing into that stage when you graduate from baby foods and move on to more real foods. One mom - the mom with the oldest of our children actually - caught my attention when she opened up a can of plain old green beans and started feeding them to her daughter straight out of the can. What a great idea! It was cheaper than the "graduate" kind you see in the baby food aisle - tiny little pieces of green beans in tiny little jars at an astronomical price. So from that day on, I started giving my son vegetables out of the can: green beans, wax beans, carrots, peas, beets. And to this day (he is 6!), he goes to school with a serving of canned vegetables in his lunchbox and he eats them at room temperature. Additionally, at dinner time, when I add vegetables to everybody's plate, I often finding myself opening up a can. Perhaps dinner included steamed broccoli, which we like and my daughter likes, but my son does not. In that case, my son gets no salt added sliced carrots out of a can.

Here's another example:

Fresh Peas score a 96

Del Monte No Salt Added Peas (canned) score an 82

Del Monte Peas (canned) score a 39

My kids like some fresh vegetables too. They are big on baby carrots and cucumbers. They both like fresh green beans, especially at this time of year. But let's face it. There are nights when I just don't have time to wash and trim those green beans. It's good to know that I can open a can of no-salt-added vegetables and get almost the same benefit. And the kids are used to the soft texture. There are no fights. It's all good.

Check out this link, where a dietitian at Hy-Vee, the Iowa-based supermarket chain where we've implemented NuVal, advises that canned vegetables are an OK way to make sure you get your veggies.

Most kids today do not get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables according to researchers at Ohio State University. More on that in this link:

And has some great tools for figuring out how many vegetables (and other foods) are recommended for your child.

I am happy that my kids do eat vegetables and I know that now our next steps are to vary the vegetables that my kids eat. Not always easy. A friend and colleague of mine introduces her 3 boys to a new vegetable every Monday. Great idea! And if they don't like it the first time, she keeps trying. She says that she's never been able to get her boys to like cooked spinach, but they happily munch on raw baby spinach with ranch dressing. Ranch dressing is a secret weapon isn't it? I can get my kids to eat anything with a little bit of Ranch on it.

For more canned vegetable scores, visit

I would love more ideas. How do you get your kids to eat more vegetables?


  1. I'm excited to go out and get some canned veggies! One of the toughest parts of giving my son veggies is that they go bad so quickly. I know you're suppose to expose the children to a food several times but to continue to buy and prepare veggies when he won't eat them is time consuming and expensive. I love that canned has such a high score. it's also easy to take somewhere and doesn't have to be refrigerated. great post!

  2. Great post Melissa - when I feed my two boys dinner I put a small plate in between them with ranch dressing in the center and a selection of sliced raw veggies around it (red and green peppers, carrots, cucumber, etc.) not only does it look nice it tastes great - I know this because they fight over who ate the last veggie!

  3. Tonight I gave my Granddaughter thinly sliced cucumbers marinated with a small amount of Italian dressing and rice vinegar. She kept going back for more. It was a big hit.