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10 ways on how to get your kids to eat more fruit and vegetables
How much trouble is it getting kids to eat their five a day? I personally find it very tricky and on some days I decide I am a good parent for finding ways to persuade them to eat fruit and vegetables. On other days, I get a bit desperate and resort to underhand measures!
The first batch of these are fruit based and for children who are aware of what they are eating but are willing to experiment a bit more.
1) The first fruit suggestion I have is for chocolate and banana Popsicle.First, peel a banana and insert a Popsicle stick in along the length of it, leaving a third sticking out to hold onto. Make sure the banana isn’t over-ripe as a squishy one makes all of this a bit of a mess.
If you are making a few at a time, place them on a tray of greaseproof paper (if it is just one or two, a plate will suffice). Leave it in the freezer to freeze overnight.
Just before you want to eat them, melt some chocolate in a bowl and when you take the banana out of the freezer, drizzle the chocolate over the top. Obviously, for ‘drizzle’ read ‘drench’ if your child is less keen on banana. You can always reduce the amount of chocolate used each time if you are worried about it.
2) While we are on the banana theme, I have also had great success with Banana Bread. My son is allergic to eggs so I have to make our cakes and biscuits without it. After some trial and error, I have hit on a pretty good one. Click here to find my egg-free banana bread recipe.
3) And so, to fruit smoothies, this one is not such a revelation I’m sure. Of course, pretty much any fruit can be blended with some milk or yoghurt to make a delicious smoothie although we are particularly fond of blueberry and banana in our house. If you have a child with a particularly sweet tooth then a spoonful of honey can make the smoothie more palatable for them.
4) It isn’t just bananas; most fruit can be frozen to make Popsicles, although for most of them I would recommend blending first. Our favorite is to take some cooking apples with a little sugar and boil them down. Once they are all mushy, I usually blend a little more until they are smooth. There is nothing worse than a lumpy Popsicle!
After this, I fill some ice pop containers (not forgetting the sticks) and wait until they are frozen. We have tried orange and grapefruit as well but they can be slightly sour and a bit of a challenge for the little ones.
5) My children aren’t fooled by this one anymore but when they were young I tried to pretend that I was giving them each a little bowl of candies. What the bowls actually contained were dried fruit like sultanas, raisins and cranberries.
(How my children ever believe a word I say is a miracle. Did I mention I’m a very bad mother?)
These next 5 are all vegetable based tricks, sorry, tips.
6) Tomato sauce can be used in a huge amount of recipes. I myself have used it as a topping for pizza, a variety of mince dishes like lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese, chilli con carne, meatballs or just with chicken and pasta.
The way I make my special hidden tomato sauce is very simple. The basic ingredient, not too surprisingly, is tomatoes. I either use a tin or fresh tomatoes. If I’m using fresh I will skin them first by dropping them into boiling water for a few minutes.
To the tomatoes, I add any cooked vegetable that can be pureed and then blend the whole thing up. Successful additions have been onions and garlic, and most root vegetables particularly carrot and parsnip. Very unsuccessful ones were spinach that firstly has a tell-tale green colour and secondly did alter the overall taste enough to not work very well. Peas are also a bit of a disaster as they don’t blend into the tomato enough.
Once this is done, I add the herbs that are required for the particular dish I am cooking eg. oregano in Bolognese. Then ideally, the children find it difficult to know there is anything but tomato in the sauce.
7) My next magic ingredient is mashed potato which I have found to be a spectacular place to hide vegetables. I find root veggies the easiest to mix, that is, potato and parsnip, potato and swede, and potato and carrot. The last one of these caused a slight problem as the carrot is obviously an orange color. I have one child who loves carrots and one who hates them. I prepared the mash telling them that the orange bits were orange colored cheese. Guess which child didn’t like the taste? Yes, you’ve guessed it, the one who liked carrots. Ah well, you can’t have everything. (And yet more lies for these poor deluded children!)
8) I also make a really easy vegetable soup that just contains potato, carrot, onion, parsnip, celery and a stock cube, with enough water to cover. When simmered for enough time for all the vegetables to be cooked, usually about 30 minutes, I blend the whole lot together. It is delicious, particularly with a sprinkling of white pepper for the grown-ups. If you like your soups a little more substantial, you can also add bacon or ham or even pasta after it has been blended.
9) Cooking with children can sometimes make them more likely to eat the end product. I often add blueberries which are very high in antioxidants or cherries to normal muffin mixtures. If you coat them in flour first they shouldn’t, hopefully, sink to the bottom of your cake.
10) We don’t have omelets very often in our house because of, as I mentioned earlier, my son’s egg allergy. However, they can be excellent sources of protein and a few finely chopped mushrooms and peppers can go almost unnoticed if you are lucky!
Well, I did say there were 10 tips but who is counting?
10 and a ½) This is a simple one again, just carrots and cucumber cut into sticks for dipping in any dressing you can think of. The children seem to like the snack aspect of this and the dips can vary depending on everyone’s taste, from blue cheese to ranch dressing, barbecue to cheese and onion. Anything tangy enough should disguise the taste of the veggies for those who aren’t keen.
That really is all now as I have to go and persuade my children to eat Brussels sprouts. Do let me know if you have any success with any of these and I’d be interested if you have any more ideas.