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How to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
How to Get Your Child to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
How to Get Your Child to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
We all know the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, but it can be hard to get your young children to eat them with all of the tempting, delectable, sumptuous, high-calorie, high-fat, non-nutritious foods available in the market place.
If you are like me, you do the majority of your grocery shopping with your child since you have no other alternatives. You might even buy what is least expensive for your family, like me! My daughter gravitates towards the cookies, chips, and snacks when we are shopping. She wants to buy anything that has a picture of her favorite characters on it. If only they could label broccoli with a Disney princess!
Here are some easy ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet- and yours too!
The Food Pyramid!
Try Spaghetti squash- This is a great alternative to pasta and kids love it! Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Place opened side down on baking sheet for 30 minutes (or until squash comes out with a fork- it looks just like…..spaghetti!) Add your favorite pasta sauce and enjoy!
Make Eggplant Parmesan! Find your favorite recipe for lasagna and substitute breaded, peeled and sliced eggplant instead of the noodles. Here’s a great recipe that bakes the eggplant instead of frying it! First, preheat oven to 350 degrees –Next, peel and slice eggplant, and then dip in beaten eggs (about 2 eggs) and coat in bread crumbs (about two cups). Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side. In a separate 9x13 inch baking dish, spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with your choice of cheeses, but mozzarella and parmesan cheeses work well. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Bake for about 35 minutes. This is a great alternative to lasagna!
Try making homemade breaded zucchini, zucchini bread, banana bread, or raspberry scones! My daughter loves helping me mix the ingredients and eating the final product!
Eat nutritious foods in front of them – Let them see you eat healthy foods that you like! Don’t just go out and buy avocados if you don’t like it- find fruits and vegetables you like!
Sit down and eat with them- Be a great role model. Don’t let your kids see you not liking something and don’t ever say “Ewwww, vegetables, those are disgusting!” If you won’t eat it, then you can’t get mad at your kids for not wanting to either!
Use the grocery store as a learning opportunity. When my daughter was younger, she would love hearing me say new words like, rhubarb, collard greens, pitaya (dragon fruit), okra, artichoke hearts, papaya, and trying to repeat them!
Visit a local farmer’s market and buy fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables. Let your child pick out a few items they would like to try.
Create your own interesting recipes- try new recipes and substitute healthy alternatives. My daughter loves my protein-filled oatmeal! I make the oatmeal according to directions, and I add peanut butter, cinnamon, and frozen blueberries!
Try new foods together as a family. . Let your child participate in the meal making (as much as they can- according to their age and ability level)
Have an interesting exploration play date- Invite friends over for a play date and ask them to bring one new food or recipe that they have never tried before to share with the group. The majority of the times, kids are more motivated to try a new food if they see their peers trying it.
Have a “theme” night. Try having a “Mexican night” and make veggie quesadillas and fried plantains. Celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2nd with green eggs and ham! Mix spinach with your scrambled eggs to create the “green eggs”.
Make a fruit or veggie pizza.
Make your own juice/ Make your own smoothies. My favorite smoothie creation is to add ice, milk, a little chocolate syrup, bananas, and peanut butter and blend. MMMM! Get creative and add acai’, pomegranate, or use coconut or almond milk. Once you like the taste, and your kids will drink it, you can add things like fish oil, oatmeal, vitamins, and/ or wheat germ.
You can also make your own popsicles by juicing your favorite fruits and vegetables (add pump too if desired), pour into popsicles cups, and freeze, or if you don’t have the popsicles cups, you can make your own (like my mom did) and put your juice in paper cups with a popsicle stick, or put your juice in ice cube trays and put toothpicks in them.
Try eating freeze dried fruit or mix you own fruit with yogurt (less sugar if you buy unsweetened yogurt and add fruit-you can add honey as needed to make it sweeter.)
Try to add vegetables to all pasta dishes (add peas or corn to mac-n-cheese). When my daughter was a baby, I made the majority of her baby food myself. You can use a puree to sneak in vegetables even when your child gets older too!
Try adding a mixed vegetable to all rice dishes. When my daughter was younger, she loved my “stirfry”. I would make whole grain rice and add tofu and frozen mixed vegetables.
Also, you can make sure that you incorporate one fruit and vegetable into each meal. It doesn’t have to be complex, just start off with a few peas, and before you know it, they will be used to seeing them on their plate!
Most importantly, do not get mad and “force” your child to eat. If your child does not like something the first time or will not even touch it and try it, it is not the end of the world. Try it again in a few weeks! Sometimes it can take numerous attempts and also tastes can change!