It’s no secret – my Bunnies love raw veggies.
I have to scratch my head to remember how it all started. Here are some things that helped them …..
1) An early start with fruit. The Bunnies started with raw stuff in their first year. When they began solids, I served them 2 servings of raw fruit daily. Favourites were avocado, papaya, mangoes, bananas and apples (all raw). Pears were stewed. Some people advised me to stew apples, but I just mashed them up thoroughly until they were a fine mush. Maybe having raw fruit in their early days helped them make an easier transition to raw veggies.
2) Transition gradually to veggies. As early as in their first year, I let the Bunnies gnaw on whole carrots and whole cucumbers (peeled), watching carefully to avoid choking. I’d hold them to their mouths, and let them hold them too. They got to taste the juice and scrape off a little with their gums. When they began to chew better on rougher textured rice porridge (around 1 year old), I introduced very fine slices of raw cucumber and, later, carrots. Ripe tomato wedges were a big hit. (Raw tomatoes can be harsh on tender mouths.)
3) Let them shop, unload and pack away veggies. In their toddler days, I let them sit in the child seat that is part of the supermarket trolley and help me put bell peppers and other veggies into bags as I select them. When we get home, they help me load veggies into the lower fridge compartment. “Put the celery into that drawer, dear.” We talk about their colours and shapes, “Ooohh, look at this loooovely cucumber! It’s green! And it’s sooooo long!” Allowing Bunnies in the kitchen has been great for me, not only so I can keep an eye on them, but also to let them be a part of what I’m doing. The kitchen is as child-proof as it can get.
4) Make raw veggies fun! When they began standing pretty confidently on a little stool, I let my toddlers wash veggies. I let them watch me cut them, standing at a safe distance away from the knife. As I slice the veggies, I always pop a few raw pieces into my mouth, ooh-and-aahh about how yummy they are, then ask them if they want to try some too. After seeing my dramatic expressions, they are always curious and eager! So they try. And keep trying. I cut suitable mini-sized pieces. And always watch closely for choking risks. Puppy and Lamb have tried all kinds of raw veggies this way, including onions, ginger and spring onions (chives) – which they love!
The knives here look nearer than they really are – quite out of reach.
Fun fact: Here’s how Lamb started on raw garlic. I smashed the garlic pieces with the flat part of my knife, then let him smell them and peel the skins off. Before I knew it, he put a small bit into his mouth. “How do you like it, Lamb?” I asked. “Nice, Mama!!!” At 2 years old, Lamb continues to eat raw garlic ….. and all the cooked garlic bits he can find in our veggie stir-fries. I can’t remember when’s last time he’s seen a doctor! Garlic has fantastic antibiotic properties.)
5) Serve raw veggies regularly. I dish out raw veggies at least 3 times a week. That helps the kids to get used to them. Serving them with cooked food also helps – I let them sprinkle their own ginger slices and chopped chives over their rice porridge. They love the fact that they can “decorate” their own food.
6) Have fun with dips. I let them dip raw veggie sticks in mayonnaise dips and egg dips. They’re the easiest to prepare. If you have an easy dip recipe, please share it!
7) Eat your veggies with a smile. Every time I serve raw veggies (and especially at the introductory stage), I put on my widest grin and make a super big deal about how yummy they are – Mama’s favourite!! (That IS true, I love vegetables as natural and as original as they can get …. uncooked! with all the nutrients intact.) The Bunnies usually get excited about what I’m excited about.
8) Take your raw veggies out. When we go on long drives, and even on a day trip out, I sometimes bring raw veggies with me – all cut up in bite sizes and stored in a container. My Bunnies have come to view them as acceptable snacks.
Does your kid like raw veggies? Let me know if any of these ideas work for you, and whether you have other tempting tricks up your sleeve!