The benefits of eating peas and how to get children to eat them
As adults, we’re all aware of the importance of eating fruit and vegetables, but knowing how fussy children can be when it comes to mealtimes, getting them to understand why they should eat more greens is much more difficult. So what do you do if your child won’t eat vegetables, and more specifically, peas?
Here are our top 10 ways to help your child eat peas and kick-start healthy eating habits.
How to get children to eat peas:
1. Introduce new foods slowly
Variety is key to a healthy balanced diet, but fruit and vegetables (along with most foods) are a new concept to children and toddlers. If you want to start introducing peas into their diet, you should start slowly at first to get them used to the new taste and texture.
It’s not just how often you should try and get your children to eat peas, but also how much you should feed them too. Start small and offer a little amount, like half a pea to begin with. Then, over time, gradually introduce a few whole peas to their meal so your child gets used to seeing them on their plate and starts eating more.
2. Be patient
Avoid commenting on what or how much your child is eating, even if you find it difficult to bite your tongue. The more you insist that your child eats their peas, the more likely they are to resist them. Encourage good behaviour and remember that it will take time for your child to get used to eating peas and new vegetables. Even one mouthful is progress so don’t force them to finish their plate.
3. Make new tasty recipes
The presentation of food plays a vital role in whether we want to eat it or not, so it’s hardly surprising if your child turns their nose up at a plate of soggy vegetables. Create new recipes that are vibrant in colour, including a combination of bright vegetables to encourage your children to eat them. Peas are a great vegetable to use in exciting recipes because of their bright green colour.
At Birds Eye, we have a variety of delicious recipes with peas and we’re sure your child will find them just as tasty as we do! From homemade mushy peas to kids pea tagliatelle– there’s a colourful dish for all the family to enjoy.
Take a look at our mouth-watering pea recipes for more mealtime inspiration.
4. Make mealtimes fun!
If you’re struggling to get your children to eat peas, try making mealtimes fun so they enjoy sitting down with you at the dinner table.
Whether you play games at the table, cut their food up in a fancy way or make patterns on the plate with their peas, making mealtimes more fun will help encourage your child to associate eating food (and vegetables in particular) with an enjoyable experience.
5. Be clever with your cooking
If your child is constantly refusing to eat their peas, it’s time to get clever in the kitchen.
Include a serving of peas in their favourite pasta dish at mealtimes, or disguise them in a savoury treat during the day to ensure they’re getting their portion of peas - without even knowing it!
Another great way to get your children to eat peas is by serving it as a side dish to their main meal. Dishes like our fish goujons with pea purée and potato wedges are a great way to get children to eat peas without making it a big feature on their plate.
Lower salt and sugar dips and sauces are a great way to encourage your child to try new foods because if they feel like they can take it or leave it, they’ll be more likely to give it a try.
7. Cook together
Not only is cooking together a great way to bond, it will help your child feel better about eating their greens, especially if they’ve cooked them themselves.
Letting your child get hands on in the kitchen will help them looking forward to eating the food they are making, and we’ve got some easy recipes they can help out with! Try our peas on toast recipe to get your child confident in the kitchen, we’re sure they’ll be enjoying the taste of our delicious peas in no time!
8. Soups, smoothies, dips and sauces
The meal options are endless when it comes to getting your child to eat peas, but if they aren’t enjoying a small serving alongside their main meal, it’s time to get creative.
You can blitz, mash and even purée peas to encourage your child to start eating them and it’s also a great way of getting your child to experiment with different textures too! Mashing peas as an alternative spread for butter on sandwiches, or blitzing them in a food processor to create a pea and hummus dip are just a couple of ideas you can try.
9. Don’t just wait for dinner
Peas are great at any time of day, so don’t feel like you have to try and get your child to eat them at dinner time. Serving peas in snacks throughout the day is a great way to get your child used to the delicious taste and vibrant colour, so that the next time they do see them on their plate at dinner they won’t be put off.
Our green pea hummus salad wraps make for a delicious and nutritious lunch, while our pea, ham and cheese muffins are a tasty treat that we’re sure your children will enjoy at any time of day!
10. Set an example
Eat your peas too! Children are more likely to try the foods they see you eating and just as they copy behavior, they learn and pick up on eating habits as well. Be aware of the food messages you’re sending so your children know that peas are to be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.
Help your children learn why it’s important to eat vegetables and tell them about the nutritional benefits of peas, especially about how they’re packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients including vitamin C, foliate, vitamin B1, iron and zinc. Peas are low in sugars and high in fibre, so adding a side of peas to your meal will provide a range of health benefits for you and your family.
When it comes to fussy eating or trying to get your children to eat peas for the first time, there’s no one-size-fits-all type of method. The most important part of encouraging new vegetables at the dinner table is to persevere – don’t give up! Trial and error is all part of helping your child experience new tastes and textures whilst learning about the health benefits of peas and other nutritious foods.
If you want to find out more about how vegetables are so good nutritionally, read our guide on why vegetables are important in our diets and about our Birds Eye frozen peas nutrition.