Sometimes eating a raw vegan diet can seem challenging when it comes to getting your family to go along for the ride with you. It doesn’t have to be that way though. I’m going to share with you eight great tips for getting your family (kids included!) excited to eat raw food.
1. Take requests: Get your family’s opinion and take requests for recipes. Show your family different raw recipes from books and the Internet, and let them take turns picking out which recipes you make. Or, ask your family for their favorite flavors and pick out something to make based on that. This is especially helpful for kids because they’re making a choice, which gives them ownership in the process. Make it extra fun and get everyone to pick 2 to 3 recipes each. Write the names of the recipes on scrap pieces of paper. Put them in a bowl or hat and draw one each week.
2. Be Stealthy: Okay, if you know your family won’t go for the aforementioned support and ownership stuff, forget all that… be stealthy! Make one raw dish at every other dinner, and don’t even mention it. Start slowly and incorporate more over time. I recommend starting with a side dish or soup that is raw, or even just having a fresh salad before dinner. (If making a raw soup… warm the soup in your dehydrator briefly if that makes it more appealing to your family. Or if you don’t have a dehydrator, you can warm it on the stove, lowest setting, using your finger to stir it. By using your finger and being able to do that without it hurting, means it’s at a temperature that maintains the integrity of the nutrients.) After they gobble it up, you can casually mention that it’s raw and that you’d be happy to make it for them again in the future.
3. Win them over with sweetness: Introduce your family to the world of raw food with raw desserts. When kids get to eat dessert after every meal, that is exciting, especially when they can have second helpings. Raw desserts are easy, fun, and loaded with nutrients. It’s a win-win!
4. Make certain meals all-raw. The easiest way to do this is with breakfast. Start by drinking fresh organic smoothies for breakfast. It’ll help if you let your family take part in choosing what flavors to make. A fun way to do this is planning ahead. The night before you make a smoothie, ask your kids which flavors they would like. Make it fun by talking about the different colors, too. Give them cool names, too, like “Dragon Smoothies,” “Magic Shake,” or, make a strawberry and banana smoothie and call it “Pretty-In-Pink Smoothie.”
When you’re ready to diversify the breakfast options, introduce raw granola (you can make this yourself, buy it online, or purchase it in health food stores). Enjoy them with homemade raw nut milk.
5. Limit your kids’ choices: Give your kids a choice between two different raw foods so they don’t feel forced to eat just one thing. One way to do this is by offering them something really tasty compared to something that might not be as tasty, thereby making the tasty option seem that much better. For example, offer your kids a choice between blueberries and celery. They will probably pick the blueberries and be happy about it because they had a say in the matter and blueberries taste good (imagine how different this is than offering them blueberries or Oreos!) Or, make it a choice between carrots and zucchini. They’ll probably pick the carrots and be happy about it because of the alternative.
6. Make it look like fun! Another super tip is to cut your children’s fruit and veggies into fun shapes and sizes using inexpensive kitchen tools. They’ll be sure to show these off in school! (There are entire books about how to make fancy shapes with your produce.) Imagine how much fun you can have doing this together. Involving your kids in age-appropriate kitchen projects can form not only healthy dietary habits, but also lifelong memories.
7. Serve in courses. By filling up with delicious, huge salads, you and your family will eat less cooked food. One way to ensure you succeed with this plan is to only have the food you’re eating on the table at a given sitting. For example, while you’re eating the huge salads, just have the salads on the table. Don’t distract your family with having bread or crackers or even the main entrée at the table while you are eating the salad. This way they concentrate on the salad, taking their time, enjoying all of it and not focusing on anything else. And if they’re very hungry, they’ll wolf down a lot of it. Then, when you are done with the salads, bring out the entrée. Do the same process and follow with dessert.
8. Get them involved: Kids love helping with recipes from the shopping to the actual prepping of the meal. If they help make it, they’re more likely to enjoy the results. This helps them feel connected to the food and it makes them feel proud to have helped. Have fun while you’re doing it and be sure to thank them for assisting. (This works with adults, too!)