It’s an age-old struggle, parents trying to get their kids to eat enough vegetables. What if we told you that they are not alone? According to the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the average fruit and vegetable intake of a person in late adolescence is about half the recommended amount. And with the uptick in popularity surrounding plant-based diets, it’s not much of a surprise that consumption of dairy foods in kids over the age of nine is also below recommended levels. So what should parents do?
Plants + Dairy: A Balanced Meal
Dairy foods and vegetables are a perfect pairing, and combining them increases your odds of serving balanced meals that meet dietary recommendations. Think of a diet as “plants plus animals” rather than “plants versus animals,” which helps in making strides to achieve the goal of a varied and balanced diet.
Dairy foods are an important element of healthy eating patterns, especially vegetarian and flexitarian diets. They include a powerful package of nutrients, including protein, calcium, vitamins A and D, and vitamin B12, a nutrient found primarily in animal products. If you want to eat more vegetables and plant-based proteins, do it in combination with dairy to improve overall diet and health so you get the most nutrients in your meals.
How to Veggie It Up!
You have probably melted a little cheddar on top of broccoli to entice your kids or yourself to eat those veggies. Here are a few simple and delicious ways to get vegetables into meals!
Spinach, Cauliflower, and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Pack a mix of creamy pureed cauliflower rice, cooked, chopped spinach, and ricotta cheese into pasta shells for a veggie-packed upgrade to classic stuffed shells. Top it off with marinara sauce, and you’ll get even more veggie bang for your buck!
Mushroom and Onion Dutch Baby
Think pancakes only come in sweet varieties? Think again. Make one big savory pancake with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and your favorite cheese—we like Parmesan!