We all know that fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet. And so most of us aim to achieve the 5 a day rule to get the vitamins and minerals our bodies need as recommended by the World Health Organization.
There is strong and growing evidence that sufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables helps prevent many diseases and promotes good health, but large parts of the world’s population consume too little of these.Dr Pekka Puska, WHO Director, Noncommunicable Diseases Prevention and Health Promotion.
No matter how strong the evidence is, the question remains, how easy is it to get kids to eat vegetables?
My 4-year-old will eat a plate full of cucumber or apple but not so much broccoli. My 1-year-old on the other hand happily will munch on broccoli but wants nothing to do with bananas. The struggle!
Fortunately, I’ve found 5 simple tricks that work well in my house and help me sneak fruit & veggies into my kids’ daily diet.
1. Be A Role Model
Oftentimes, kids imitate what they see. If you eat plenty of vegetables they will too.
This may not happen in the blink of an eye. Consistency and conversations about the importance of vegetables are key. So keep planting those seeds in their young minds.
2. Involve The Kids In Preparation
Where possible, go shopping with the kids and let them choose the fruit and vegetables they like. This gives them a sense of control and they’ll most likely eat what they “picked” when they get home.
Involve them in meal prep too. A fun hack is to use a cookie-cutter. Say in the shape of a dinosaur if your child likes them, to cut cucumber. Kids will be happy to explore various shapes and this could encourage them to eat more veggies.
Lastly, use meal prep as teaching moments by experimenting with various shapes and colors of fruit and vegetables. It’s a win-win. Food for the tummy and food for the brain.
3. Make Smoothies
This is the home run with my boys.
I’ve found that involving them in making smoothies allows them to pick and choose the ingredients they like. As well as experiment with flavor, texture, and color.
Kids can have smoothies for breakfast, as a snack, or as part of a school lunch box.
A simple smoothie will have the following base ingredients:
- Milk (dairy or non-dairy)
- Fruit (fresh or frozen
- Optional add-ins (like sweetener, flavoring, home made apple sauce, etc).
Throw everything in a blender and blend until smooth! Here’s a couple of flavor combinations to get you started:
- Almond milk, banana, strawberry, and raw cauliflower
- Banana, blueberries, spinach, cocoa powder, a little maple syrup
4. Try Out Vegetarian
Try this out – replace meat with vegetables in your family’s favorite recipes. Both my kids love pasta. Beef lasagna has since become my family’s any day meal of choice.
Out of curiosity, I swapped beef with carrot, zucchini, onion, bell pepper, and spinach. To see their reaction. It was an instant hit! Much to my surprise.
The trick here is to keep other ingredients the same, especially the flavouring. So that the kids don’t taste the difference. Or if they do, the difference is minimal.
5. Fruit And Vegetable Popsicles
Hurrah, warm weather is here!
More or less like smoothies but frozen, popsicles are great for summer. Easy to make and cheap, these can be healthy everyday snacks or desserts.
My 4-year-old isn’t a fan of watermelon chunks. But as soon as I freeze watermelon juice in a popsicle mold he never gets enough of it. Genius right?
Now for the trick, sneak in some vegetables in the mix.
The good thing about popsicles is that they keep in the freezer for a long time. And so can be made in large batches. This’ll ensure that you have a healthy snack on hand for those busy or lazy days.
Mix freshly squeezed juice, or use fresh fruit and veggies. Throw into a popsicle mold and freeze. Here are a few simple flavour combinations to sneak in those fruit & veggies :
- Pineapple, orange and mango
- Beetroot juice and frozen berries
- Carrot juice and pineapple
The 5 a day rule isn’t impossible. Not with these easy tips and tricks to help you sneak in fruit & veggies in your child’s food daily.
Try them out, write back in the comments and let us know if you experienced any challenges or surprise reactions from your family.