Why Your Kids Need to Eat Their Vegetables

Last updated 11th March 2024

Getty Images

Do you have a hard time getting your kids to eat their vegetables? A warning to picky eaters everywhere: According to a recent study published in a medical journal, a teenage boy in England went blind after subsisting on a diet of Pringles, white bread and French fries. It’s a chilling lesson for parents of kids who only want to eat buttered pasta. But here’s the good news: You can’t ask for a better opportunity than travel to expose your kids to healthy food and good eating habits.

We tapped into Erin Gleeson, the author of “The Forest Feast” cookbook series, who knows a thing or two about local, fresh ingredients (and eating out with kids!). During her travels, she says she always inspires her young kids to be more adventurous eaters by cooking and shopping for food together. “In each new place, we go to the grocery store and buy stuff to cook at home,” says Gleeson, who tells Family Traveller that she likes to think “that they’re being exposed to lots of different things that somehow sink in.”

She also takes her kids to visit farmers markets, farms and restaurants with farm-to-table dining. “It really helps to get kids to try new things,” she says.

Another technique she uses is to explore traditional foods while traveling. “The regional dishes for each country have so much history in them that it makes farm-to-table eating using local ingredients a really rich, unique experience for kids.”

Here, Gleeson shares a few spots serving healthy food both close to her California home and from her travels abroad. These places are sure to turn any vegetable hater into a good eater.

Courtesy of Alice’s Restaurant

1/11 Alice’s Restaurant, Woodside, California

As Erin’s neighborhood go-to, this has long been on her list of favorites. Serving up simple diner-esque food, it uses locally sourced ingredients for everything from burgers to homemade pies. And with a dog-friendly deck and a lawn out back that’s great for burning off excess energy, it’s an ideal spot to bring the family for an easy meal.

2/11 Martins West Gastropub, Redwood, California

At this casual-chic restaurant, there’s something for every taste. Seasonal market items like Scottish salmon or bone marrow will delight sophisticated palates, while pub dishes and starters like mac ’n’ cheese will please younger taste buds. Erin’s personal picks include the deep-fried brussels sprouts and the not-to-be-missed pie.

Courtesy of Local Union 271

3/11 Local Union 271, Palto Alto, California

A charming plant-filled interior crafted by area artisans beckons diners. From the food to the drinks, the menu puts an emphasis on sourcing ingredients from local purveyors. Sink your teeth into a Grass-Fed Pescadero Ranch Burger, savor regional seasonal vegetables in a stir-fry or — for mom and dad — indulge in a fresh fruit mimosa.

Courtesy of Terun

4/11 Terun, Palo Alto, California

Who doesn’t love authentic pizza made fresh in a wood- red Neapolitan oven? Not to mention delicious homemade pasta and a dessert menu with hits like lemon panna cotta with fresh berries. The covered outdoor patio tucked away in the back has plenty of room for the whole family and is strewn with string lights, creating a magical atmosphere.

Courtesy of The Blue Plate

5/11 The Blue Plate, San Francisco

This comfort-food gem in the Mission District takes American favorites and adds a Mediterranean twist. It uses Northern California produce and sources from nearby farms, and you’ll find both small plates for sharing and larger entrées. They even have delivery and pick-up options. If you have the time, the backyard is great for kids.

Traveling in San Francisco? Use our destination guide to help!

Courtesy of ABC Kitchen

6/11 ABC Kitchen, New York

This hip restaurant from Jean-Georges Vongerichten emphasizes serving local, organic and environmentally conscious food. You’ll find creative, fresh bites like roasted honeynut squash with goat cheese and chiles and mezcal-cured salmon. But don’t worry, little eaters will be happy too, with options like patatas bravas and fettuccine.

Traveling in New York? Use our destination guide to help!

Courtesy of Up for Breakfast

7/11 Up for Breakfast, Manchester, Vermont

Grab a seat at the counter at this quaint spot. Perfect for a family breakfast, it has plenty of options with a healthy twist. Take the pancake menu, which includes everything from classic buttermilk to a cinnamon-based batter filled with coconut, raisins and more. No matter what you pick, you’ll want to douse them in Vermont maple syrup.

Courtesy of Barboncino

8/11 Barboncino, Brooklyn, New York

This friendly spot is a favorite among Brooklynites. Kids will have fun choosing from the wide variety of wood-fired pizzas and adults will enjoy the creative cocktails. Start with an arugula salad and salumi board. Looking for an earlier meal? The sweet and savory brunch pizzas offer hits like sweet apple and pear and Gorgonzola.

Courtesy of Lolita Taperia

9/11 Lolita Taperia, Barcelona

This lively restaurant crafts creative tapas based on traditional favorites using regional products and excellent raw materials. Enjoy a famously long Spanish lunch in the outdoor seating on the terrace while sampling from a wide selection of small plates. Parents can also enjoy sipping a fresh tap beer or trying the local vermouth.

Courtesy of Argriturismo Bergi

10/11 Argriturismo Bergi, Castelbuono, Italy

It’s not hard to find good food in Italy, but for a true farm-to-table experience, you’ll want to stop at this agriturismo that uses fresh ingredients. Wander in the sprawling orchard and olive groves before your meal. There’s also a fabulous educational farm for kids to explore before they eat a lunch using the organic farm products.

Marie MacDonald for SimplyLagos

11/11 Casa Chico Ze, Lagos, Portugal

Serving simple dishes sourced close to home, this lunch-only spot is popular with both residents and tourists. Enjoy outdoor seating for a meal of fresh grilled fish and veggies. Kids will especially love the mini farm out back — there’s a garden, animals and plenty of space to run around and play.

Find Erin Gleeson’s favorite recipes from The Forest Feast for Kids.