11 Tried and True Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Veggies

11 Tips From a Mama of 8 to Get Kids to Eat Veggies

One poor mama asked me how to get her kids to eat their vegetables. She has a child that gags and cannot swallow his veggies. Poor guy.

Many people will judge. I might have after my first four girls, who ate their vegetables enthusiastically, but now I eat my veggies with a side of humble pie! Here’s why:

We went through the whole gag issue with one of our seven, our boy. He would gag with certain veggies in his mouth. If required to swallow, it would come back up. Mmm…that’s appetizing. I don’t think anyone watching the scene firsthand could say it was an obedience issue. He physically couldn’t get them down, and he was a very obedient child. We kept offering the veggies and now he inhales them all.

Here is what we did to make veggies a readily accepted part of my son’s diet.

11 Tried and True Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Veggies

1–Frozen peas and green beans are like ice cream bonbons. Okay, they’re totally not, but they’re fun to eat if your kids are beyond the choking stage.

2–Smoothies are God’s alternative to dinner table battles and McDonald’s drive-throughs. Throw in a tiny bit of veggie and gradually increase the amount.

3–I often opted for heavily veggie-based dishes instead of stand-alone veggies. Somehow, veggies are easier to eat when they’re in a different form–casseroles, veggie soup, tomato soup, stir-fry, pasta sauce, pies, even lasagna. Chop small or blend, you sneaky mama.

4–I still add veggies to as many dishes as possible, and then tell my son what he ate only after he ate them and liked them. That way he knows he has tried and enjoyed that veggie. Parsnip-mashed potatoes comes to mind. I also sneak onions into everything, and he love-hates onions. (Loves them until he finds out he just ate an onion, at which point everything is gross, although yesterday he realized he loves French onion soup.)

Help Your Kids Eat Their Veggies!
This pasty is sneaky–it has yummy veggies inside!

5–Pretty bowls of veggies set out as daily snacks are enjoyed by everyone, and he dives right in with the rest. Dip makes it more fun, but I only use that as a treat.

6–We cut out as much processed foods as possible (in our case, all the processed food) both to not give him an alternative snack and to help his health and tastes. This is particularly effective if the gag reflex is from a developing (or passing) allergy issue.

7–I kindly and respectfully asked my hubby, who sits by him at every meal and was admittedly not raised on veggies, to stop making remarks about how disgusting veggies are and to quit leaving them on his plate. Setting a good example is huge. Huge-huge!

8–We planted a garden together and ate the goods.

11 Tips to Get Kids to Eat Veggies
Gathering rhubarb from a friend’s garden.

9–Sometimes he would be my shopping buddy, and I would let him pick out whatever he wanted to try from the grocery store. We rotated kids, but it was new and exciting, so they tried it.

10–We required him to try one bite of the veggie dish, or one piece (like one pea or bean) for each year of his age. I apologize in advance, my dear future daughter-in-law, if you have to count out 42 beans for him. I really tried.

11–We held off on the foods that made him gag. Eventually, we reintroduced them and he was totally fine with them. It is possible that it’s a sensitivity issue.

Here’s a ray of hope for you mamas struggling to get veggies into your children (or hubby): When my gagger son (now 9) was six, he talked my veggie-phobic husband into trying Brussels sprouts, and they both liked them. There is hope! At six he was my least creative eater, but at 9 he loves his veggies and will eat almost anything, especially mushrooms.

11 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat Veggies
That’s him in the background, happily munching on an “edible weed” from a friend’s back yard.

How do you get your kids to eat their veggies?

The Tummy Team–The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Heal Your Core! Limited Time Offer!Disclosure: I am a Tummy Team affiliate. I am also a Christian and tell the truth. It’s a good combo. In fact, even though I was participating in The Tummy Team, I didn’t become an affiliate until I knew I loved it! 

(If you’re just here for the good deal, the first ten people to use the code SIMPLE25 by November 20 save 25% on The Tummy Team. Just click here, and don’t forget your code.)


You’ve heard me rattle on about The Tummy Team this year, and here’s my wrap-up review about the whole shebang.

The Good

I really, really like it. I’ve told you the many benefits I’ve seen and that it’s a good thing, and here’s why:

Anything that makes my abs feel like I’ve been laughing with my family for half an hour or like I powered through thirty crunches without actually crunching is a good thing, right? Of course, right.

Anything that helps me with the weaky leakies that come after bouncing seven babies on your bladder is a good thing, right? Of course, right! (Read this for a reminder of all the crazy awesome benefits!)

Anything that helps stabilize my weak areas where I tend to tweak out a rib or strain a back muscle and be out for days or weeks is a good thing, right? Of course, right!

It’s a good thing to have your core strengthened and to have the tools to repair and maintain a strong body. You can’t argue with that. Read my posts above, or visit Kelly’s site to learn all about the good things.

The Bad

Here’s the bad thing, because I’m honest:

It’s expensive.

I don’t have a spare $200 lying around, do you? You do?! Cool. But I don’t.

The good thing about the price is that it helps you take the whole thing very seriously. I should hope that if you spent 200 smackers on this, you’d actually do it, not like if you tossed, say, 19.95 at it.

Plus, you’re paying for professional assistance to improve your health. The last time I saw, say, a medical bill, it was pretty hefty. Hefty like that family-size bowl of popcorn I downed last night…alone. You’re buying the time and expertise that went into creating The Tummy Team and helping countless women and men; you’re not merely buying access to the videos. You see?

Also, when you consider how much moola many of you casually hand out for “just one more outfit for the kids” or that “gotta-have manicure” or “it’s only once a week” lunch with the girls, $200 isn’t that much. (For those of you who are truly frugal, jump on today’s 25% off deal at the bottom of the page, or follow The Tummy Team on Facebook. I don’t know how often Kelly posts deals there…but I do know mine is right now.)

Another plus: it’s cheaper than a monthly gym membership and more effective than the hours of crunches you’ve invested on your midsection so far. Can you say “waste of time”?

Here’s the other bad thing:

It’s an eight week program, and then it ends. I would prefer to have DVDs or a lifetime membership, because I’m a DVD kinda girl. That’s mainly because we travel the US full-time and don’t always have reliable (or any) internet access.

Plus again (this is turning into multiplication), the first time around, you gather information; the second time around, you say, “Oh, I missed that the first time around. I must have had cookie crumbs in my ears.” You all say that, don’t you, about the crumbs? I like repetition. (Of course, you can watch the same videos as many times as you want over the course of your membership, which I did. Thank you!)

The good thing about the membership ending is that you can’t and therefore won’t procrastinate. You know what procrastinating is. It’s what you’re doing right now by reading my blog instead of, you know, doing what you’re supposed to be doing, like your crunches, which are ineffective, which you’d learn if you signed up for The Tummy Team.

Plus Kelly is teaching you skills that you can use for the rest of your life, not just eight weeks, so even though the membership ends, you have a new lease on life and self-help skills that don’t end. Plus you know where to go with your questions! Groovy, eh?

Another good thing about the eight week program is that, hey, it’s only eight weeks! I can do eight weeks. I can!

The Ugly

I stopped following many of The Tummy Team techniques. Why? Three reasons:

  1. I’m an idiot. That’s really the biggest factor here.
  2. I lack consistency. In fact, I once thought about joining the military so they could teach me self-discipline. I wasn’t self-disciplined enough to follow through.
  3. My dear like-a-dad-to-me grandfather died, and that sorrow added to the stresses of life caused me to slouch again, let my guts hang out, not care, and eat eat eat until I looked like I swallowed the Pillsbury Dough Boy…or at least his pudgy little sister.

But the good thing (there’s always a good thing) is that Kelly didn’t just hand me a fish; she taught me to fish. The principles are ingrained in my head, and I have the tools to jumpstart my progress all over again. In fact, over the past week I have been doing some of the simple beginner exercises and have already been feeling the difference–less side pain and abdominal discomfort. Yes! Let’s make cookies!

The Great Deal

Here’s the big news you’ve been waiting for: 

Kelly is offering 25% off for The Simple Homemaker readers (if you’re only a TSHM skimmer, fine, fine, you may have the discount, too). The first ten buyers who use the code SIMPLE25 receive $50 off their purchase of either the eight-week core strengthening series or the six-week prenatal course. Hurry scurry–you must be one of the first ten, and you must purchase before November 20.

I’d love it if you shared this deal with family, friends, and on social media. 

If you’re interested in parts one through three of this four-part review, here you go:

You know, you’ll get much more information if you check out Kelly’s site. It is super informative, and she has videos…so make popcorn. There isn’t as much cookie talk on her site, but there is far more science and tummy talk, which, in this case, is likely preferable.


Why Are You on The Tummy Team If You Don’t Have a Pooch!

When I announced that I was part of The Tummy Team, I heard quite a few remarks like this:

  • But you don’t even have a pooch!
  • But you look good for having seven kids! (I always wonder if that’s a veiled insult. If you looked like this after two kids, whoa and yikes, but the fact that you gave birth seven times and you’re standing mostly vertical is amazing.)
  • Why are you so hard on yourself? You shouldn’t be expected to look perfect.

And my favorite, which gets an extra cookie for creativity and making me laugh:

  • You’re not qualified to review this! That’s like putting a 20-something on a Depends commercial.

To this I say yes and no…or no and yes.

The fact is that appearance-wise, no, my abs have never been much of a problem area. I carry my imperfections a bit lower. (If there’s a Butt and Thigh Team, sign me up!) Plus I keep my clothes on, which does quite a bit for my overall look. I recommend that fashion statement—fully clothed—to people everywhere.

The other fact is that, despite my general lack of excessive pooch, yes, I am an ideal candidate for The Tummy Team.

The Tummy Team can help YOU fix your pooch, back pain, bladder leakage, and more!

You see, Friends, The Tummy Team is not only about how you look. That’s just a side benefit. It’s about strengthening the integral structure of the core of your body. It’s about giving your foundation an overhaul, healing the cracks and stabilizing the supporting beams. To borrow a term from Kelly, The Tummy Team Master as I like to call her, it’s strengthening your “corset,” the abdominal muscle that runs from your spine all the way around to the center of your abs, up to your ribs, and down to your pelvis.

When your corset has its rear in gear and is supporting you like it’s supposed to, everything works better. For me that means a few vital things:

1. The spine is supported.

My goal in that area is that my posture will improve, which is an enormous issue for me. I have weak “standing up” muscles and pop my hips out one way or the other like a dancing girl from the 80s. I also slump my shoulders, stick out my tummy, and rest my hands, purse, or baby on the resulting “shelf.” It ain’t pretty. (Well, the baby’s pretty…just not the shelf.) Stronger sit-and-stand muscles are useful for everything I do in a day, except, maybe, doing my Shaggy imitation. I need them to work for me, not against me.

I also have frequent pain from mild scoliosis in my upper back, an over-extended lower back, and a forward-protruding neck. I’m a vision. I used to visit the chiropractor for realigning my spine and for fixing an extremely painful rib displacement, but I didn’t have the muscle control to hold it all where it needed to be. Plus, on the road, it’s tricky to find a chiropractor…and some of them are expensive. I’m hoping my muscles can help prevent future problems, ‘cuz I don’t want pain or the depression into which it plunges a person.

2. The organs function better.

I like well-functioning organs as much as the next guy, but I’m more concerned about my daughter Hannah, whose organs have to last longer than mine do, and who was handed an extra challenge to rise above in the form of her Crohn’s Disease. The program should help her overall digestion and intestinal function as part of her gradual big-picture survive-and-thrive healing protocol.

3. The surrounding muscles operate more reliably.

I don’t want to become a 40-something on a Depends commercial. I had seven children. That’s 63 beautiful months of pregnancy…well, the puking wasn’t so pretty. Besides the extra silly putty skin seven pregnancies have left around my middle (great for entertaining the kids) those seven beauties did a number on my bladder. I mean, like a tap dance number. I had one particularly difficult pregnancy during which I got severely ill with  bronchitis during the later stages, and coughing and sneezing and leaking was out of control. My pelvic floor muscle (the one that keeps people off the Depends commercials) isn’t what it used to be. Sneezing on a full bladder used to be a problem. I want to make that an un-problem, and I’m seeing baby steps in that area.

I will admit that learning proper kegals in week four is hard. It’s hard. But, hey, I’m exercising a muscle. Pull-ups are hard if you don’t do them. And, just like pull-ups, it’s getting easier. That’s exciting to me. Not like chocolate and pie exciting, but super close!

Did she just admit she leaks when she sneezes? Yes, I did! Honestly, People, you should know by now that I keep it real.

Physically prepare your core for pregnancy, labor, delivery and recovery after your precious baby arrives.

4. The back is stronger overall.

That means I can carry my baby longer. Does that need any further explanation?

5. The brain and body learn to work together properly in the real world.

Through Kelly’s training, we are learning everything from how to get out of bed to proper potty posture (yeah, there’s some potty talk). Applying what we’re learning helps prevent further damage or future re-injury, and it enables us to exercise those muscles in a practical, everyday manner, until it becomes second nature. It’s not unlike word problems in math. Some of you are saying “Oh, I get it,” and the rest of you are saying, “I hate math.” Hating math is irrelevant. The point is that if you can subtract 75 from 100, but you can’t figure out that paying a buck for a 75-cent chocolate bar gives you 25 cents in change, your math training was useless. The Tummy Team teaches you how to make change.

6. The abdominal region looks more “even” and controlled.

A side benefit to all of this is that the abdominal region doesn’t pooch out. I don’t mind a little pooching, because I don’t expect to look like a supermodel. I was given brains over beauty. (Ha, little joke there. Ha. I’m not really that full of myself. Ha. Ha. Hmmm. Okay, not funny.)  I do, however, mind pooching when I know it’s putting excess strain on my back and making it harder for me to live life the way I’m supposed to. Plus, I am 40, which my husband tells me rounds up to 50. I know whatever pooch I’m dealing with now will only get bigger over the next ten years and exacerbate any current problems. I’m not cool with that. I’m not really cool at all, but that’s irrelevant.

There you go. That’s it in a nutshell…or a bowl of nuts, really. That’s why I’m part of The Tummy Team. Plus this girl, Kelly, she’s super sweet, smart, and helpful, and really has a heart for helping people. Love her!

Kelly of The Tummy Team can help YOU fix your pooch, back pain, bladder leakage, and more!

Have I seen improvement?

Indeed I have. I have gained an awareness of my core (yeah, a month ago I would have said SO WHAT?! to that, too.) and have “engaged” it to be an active, helpful participator in my life, not just a droopy little tag-along. What does that mean? I’m stronger! My posture is better. Hannah’s middle is toning up and trimming out. The exercises from the first week that seemed to puny became hard, and then easy, and now they’re second nature. Second nature is a pretty big deal for someone who forgets to brush her teeth some nights.

I’ll be talking to you a little more about this in a couple weeks, and about 0ne particular benefit I’ve seen that I’m excited about. Plus, Hannah and I will be sharing our progress and hosting a giveaway after we have graduated. If you’re not a subscriber, jump on board to get the low-down on the giveaway. Maybe there will be cookies. (Cookies don’t contribute to a pooch. Yes, I’m in denial.)

If you have any questions I can answer in my next review, please let me know in the comments below, or check out The Tummy Team.

(As of 11/14/13, I am an affiliate for The Tummy Team, so this post now contains affiliate links.)

Your Kids Can Bowl Free All Summer

Who doesn’t love bowling?! Well, I don’t. I mean I like it. It’s fun and all. But love it? Not really.

But if you love or even just like bowling, here’s a great offer for you while the kids are home from school for the summer.

It’s fun and it’s free.

It’s called Kids Bowl Free.

Free Bowling ALL Summer - includes a coupon for adults to bowl, too! Hurry!

Here’s the deal:

Bowling ButtonSign up at the official Kids Bowl Free websiteYou will be directed to select the alley of your choice where you can sign up as many as six children per functioning email address.

Bowling Button

You will receive a voucher via email every week for two free games a day for each child you enroll. Print it and go bowl.

Bowling ButtonIf you want the whole family to bowl, up to four adults can join all summer long with a family pass for $24.95. If you jump on this pass by midnight on Father’s Day and use the code dad15, you get 15% off. Cool beans.

Bowling ButtonMost centers still require shoe rental fees, so check out the site to see what your local center’s rules are. Or buy your own. (Amazon affiliate link. Check out the plaid bowlers. If I had those, my bowl-o-meter might go from like to love!)

Simple. Fun. Free-ish. Go do it.

So what’s in it for me? This is not an affiliate program, so…nothing…unless you buy those sweet plaid bowling shoes from Amazon. I just thought your kids might like some simple, affordable, active, screen-free fun…at a place with a snack bar.

All this talk about bowling makes me want pizza.

I know. Random.

Do you know of any other free family activities for the summer? Please share!


Fitting in Fitness on the Road with 7 Kids and a Dog

I am not a fitness expert. In fact, even though I was my high school valedictorian, I failed gym class in college. Life is funny like that. (You didn’t know that, did you, Mom? Surprise!)

Here’s why I failed. Consistency, which is sometimes the same as boredom. The class required me to come to the same room in the same building the same three days every week and do the same things on the same machines that always smelled the same…and that was not a good same smell, if you know what I mean.

Fitting in Fitness on the Road - Creative Ways to Exercise Anywhere

Some people thrive on that…and they look buff. I don’t thrive on that…nor do I look buff. But I am trim and active. That’s nothing to scoff at, since I also turned 40 last week and have birthed seven children, and no, I’m not the type who gets the cute little pregnancy bump in front. I’m the type that hears, “Are you sure they’re not twins?” or my personal favorite, “It’s like you’re pregnant in front and in back.” Smack!

To add another dimension to the challenges of exercising, as my longtime readers know, we live in a travel trailer as we tour the country with my husband’s music mission.

Oh that’s right! They live in a trailer! How does she exercise? How does she stay sane?

We’ll take the sanity question another day, but the exercise question I answer at The Humbled Homemaker where I discuss my four basic principles that apply to exercise and almost every other aspect of my life, and I show how that plays out in my everyday life.

Fitting in Fitness on the Road with 7 Kids and a Dog |www.TheSimpleHomemaker.com

Just so we get the imagery straight, we’re not actually exercising ON the road, as in ON the dotted yellow lines…but you understood that, right? I thought so.

Click here to read the rest of the story. 

Great deal alert:

Real Food Basics for only $2.50.As part of our fitness regime, we eat healthy…the good healthy, not the rice cakes and diet coke healthy, not the grapefruit diet healthy, not the cabbage soup for 14 days healthy, not the no ice cream EVER healthy. Blech! We generally eat “real” unprocessed food. Yum! 🙂 And we keep it simple in the process.

Here’s a terrific deal on the second edition of Real Food Basics, a guide for getting started on real foods. If you have the first edition, you receive the second edition free. For the rest of you, this is releasing for two days only (Monday and Tuesday, January 4 and 5, 2013) at $2.50. On Wednesday it jumps up to $5, and on March 1 it will hit its regular price of $7.95. You can do the math. It’s a great deal for 98 pages of real food hand holding. Use the code REALFOODLAUNCH.

Read my mini-review here.

Buy Real Food Basics for only $2.50 here!




Simple Exercise Plan: 10,000 Steps Challenge

The good news: My jeans finally fit comfortably again.

The bad news: They’re maternity jeans and I’m not pregnant.*

I seriously need to get back into my old jeans, primarily because they have pockets I can stuff with chewed bubble gum, used tissues, rocks, and every other imaginable treasure my little explorers hand me.  Therefore, I need to kick up the exercise a bit…as in, start doing it.

So…what am I gonna do about it?

I’m glad you asked.

To help me on my journey, some of my daughters and I have joined J-La-Sta’s 10,000 Walking Steps Challenge as she describes at A Work in Progress.  It’s really quite simple.

You need some of these (in your own size)

Simple Exercise Plan

and one of these (the pedometer, not the cutie, although I highly recommend a few of those around the house)

Simple Exercise Plan

and you do this.

Simple Exercise Plan

That’s it!

What are the details of the challenge?

The challenge runs for twelve weeks beginning on January 8 (but jump in whenever you can). 

Track your steps daily and enter your day’s total in the online log found through A Work in Progress, or keep your own records for a personal challenge.

Your goal is to work up to a consistent average of 10,000 steps a day.

While there is a small prize involved, the ultimate prize is improving your fitness and activity levels…and fitting into jeans with pockets.

I love the low commitment involved in this simple exercise plan.  All you have to do is walk—anywhere, anytime, wearing anything (but preferably something).  Walking Miss Colic back and forth counts.  Taking my three-year-old to the bathroom counts, too!  Taking laps in the backyard counts.  Running away from the neighbor’s dog while screaming like a sissy totally counts…maybe even double.

How do you sign up?

J-La-Sta has set up a team challenge board to keep each other encouraged (or challenged, depending on your personality), which you can access through A Work in Progress.  Leave a comment on her post and follow the link.  She’ll add you to the team.

Don’t have a pedometer?

J-La-Sta uses this pedometer you can slip in your pocket or hang around your neck.  Some people have phone apps that turn their cellphones into pedometers.  My family uses the cheapies from Walmart and some freebies we’ve picked up over the years.  If you want to spend a bit more, you can find pedometers that do everything except microwave your leftovers.

Are you with me on my simple exercise plan?

*To be entirely fair to li’l ol’ me, my baby is only 6 weeks, two days, and one hour old, so maternity pants aren’t really taboo…are they?    

Homemade Cough Syrup Recipe

I am not a fan of over-the-counter cough syrups, and for good reason.  Nevertheless, there are times (like today) when the cacophony of hacks and sniffles demands a little extra attention, and children need relief from coughing so they can get their healing sleep.

Homemade Cough Syrup Recipes via The Simple Homemaker

Besides the usual rest, immune-builders, and liquids, homemade cough syrup can provide some relief.  Many of the old recipes contained whiskey.  I can see how that would knock the little ones out for a few hours.  This homemade cough syrup recipe which my great grandmother passed down to my mother is alcohol free.

Great Grandma’s Homemade Cough Syrup Recipe

Cough Syrup Ingredients

  • one cup honey, raw is best
  • one teaspoon ginger
  • juice of one lemon

Combine and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes.  Do not overheat, as the raw honey will lose some of its remarkable nutritional and healing benefits.  This is also great for sore throats.  (If you don’t want to risk overheating, put the honey in after combining and heating the lemon juice and ginger.)

Thanks, Great Grandma!

I also found several homemade cough syrup recipes from bloggers around the web.  Here are my top four.

Top Four Homemade Cough Syrup Recipes

The following homemade cough remedies are organized in order of what is most readily available in my pantry.  Your pantry staples are probably slightly different than mine, so take a peek at each before deciding on one.

Keeper of the Home: Building on a simple base of raw honey and onion, Stephanie also offers options to enhance the homemade cough remedy with ingredients you may or may not have readily at hand.  The options make it suitable for most pantries.

Nourishing Joy: While not quite as simple as Great Grandma’s recipe, Kresha’s homemade cough syrup can easily and quickly be created from items I have readily on hand.  If you are an avid do-it-yourselfer in the kitchen, you’ll recognize all the ingredients.  Kresha also explains the health benefits of each component in her cough remedy. She also has a recipe for herbal cough crops.

Frugally Sustainable: Andrea’s homemade cough syrup uses fantastic ingredients, not all of which are in the average pantry.  She recommends planning ahead, preparing the herbal syrup in advance, and storing it in the refrigerator until the first signs of a cold sneak into your home.

Modern Alternative Mama: I only have three of the six ingredients in Kate’s elderberry and honey cough syrup recipe.  Nevertheless, by preparing ahead for the inevitability of the season, you could be stocked up and ready to concoct a batch of this powerhouse against colds.  Kate successfully uses this homemade cough remedy for her own family.

To further get through the season healthfully, check out the superb five-week immune-building recipe link-up sponsored by Erin at The Humbled Homemaker, Nikki at Christian Mommy BloggerMindy at The Purposed Heart, Anne at Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy, Leigh Ann at Intentional by Grace, and Rachel at Day2Day Joys.  The recipes we’ve tried are fantastic!

How do you fight colds at your house?

Healthy Snacks To Go