How to Introduce Broccoli to Toddlers
Broccoli is a nutritious veggie most parents want their toddler to eat (it is loaded with vitamins and protein too!). But it’s also a vegetable parents usually don’t model eating. This makes it difficult for a child to imitate good broccoli munching behaviors; they don’t have a visual on how it’s done! Eventually they become wary of green foods, which can lead to picking eating. Here are a few tips on how to successfully prepare, introduce and enjoy the many textures of broccoli with your toddler.
Prepare the texture: A successful meal with a toddler starts with the way we prepare vegetables. Broccoli is one of those veggies that you want to wait to wash until you are ready to cook it. When you do wash the broccoli, make sure to rinse it in cold (not warm) water. Take off the leaves and remove any brown spots. These preparation tips will offer the best texture for your toddler.
Present a crisp texture: Lightly steaming your broccoli will preserve the most nutrients (Vitamins C, K, A and Fiber) giving your toddler an excellent immunity boost. Steaming also keeps the broccoli warm and crisp – a temperature and texture toddlers love. Provide a few bites with different seasonings and sauces for your child to try. Salt, butter, garlic, ranch dressing and melted cheese are excellent starting points!
Present a tender texture: Blanching will preserve the color and texture of the veggie. Cook the broccoli until it is slightly tender, usually for 1-2 minutes. Place it in ice water for another 1-2 minutes to create a tender and cool texture. This is a perfect treat for a teething toddler!
Present a crunchy texture: Eating broccoli raw is a great way to show the diversity of this green machine to your toddler! Raw textures can be served at room temperature and are perfect for kiddos who have difficulties with the sensory aspects of cold, warm or hot food. Since broccoli can be a tad bitter to some children, having a dip to dunk it in is not only tasty but also fun! Some of my favorite dips for toddlers are cream cheese dip, nacho dip, hummus or French onion dip.
Present a liquid texture: Broccoli is a perfect veggie for making warm soups, room temperature juices or cold smoothies. Just place it in a blender or food processor with cream, salt and butter for an easy and delicious broccoli soup. For a yummy green juice, blend one sweet fruit, a lemon and the broccoli in a juicer. You can also freeze the juice to make it into popsicles. A refreshing smoothie of broccoli, pineapple, and frozen melons are sure to be a hit!
You can use any texture of broccoli to make goofy food art on the Happy Mat as eyes, ears, hair or a mustache! How do you introduce broccoli as food art to your toddler? Show us by using the hashtags #ezpzfun or #myezpzmat
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).