Since last week I did a blog post on food coloring, I thought this week I would focus on the other side of the rainbow of colors. . . Fruits and Vegetables! The biggest part of this post is HOW to get your kids to eat fruit, and most of all VEGETABLES!
1. Your kids will not eat what is not given to them. Sounds simple, but we all need to remember that if our children are not given the opportunity to try a certain vegetable, then you are depriving them of the opportunity to know if they like it or not. Be sure that when you go to the store, you are buying fruits and vegetables. Here are some shopping tips.
- Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruit is great in smoothies and muffins, and frozen vegetables are 100% better than canned!!!!!!!! Frozen fruits and vegetables are often even healthier than fresh because they are picked and frozen right away. This gives frozen f & v less time to lose nutrients, like vitamin C.
- Buy the fresh fruits and vegetables when they are on sale. You should eat foods in season. They are less expensive and tend to have traveled less (fresher and better for the environment)
- If you have little ones, let them help you grocery shop. If you are really motivated, you could take the time to do a "field trip" to the grocery store and take the time to look at every fruit and vegetable that they have.
- Trouble keeping f & v fresh? You should always buy lots of bananas. If they get to brown, peel them and put them in the freezer for a smoothie, or make banana muffins. Pretty much with any fruit, you can freeze it and then stick it in a smoothie later.
2. So now that you have the variety available, you need to be an EXAMPLE and eat the different kinds of fruits and vegetables that you buy. Be sure that your kids understand that they might not like a certain f or v one way, but they still might like to eat it another way. For example, none of my kids like raw tomatoes, but all of them love spaghetti sauce. Also, remind your kids that they might not like a certain f or v right now, but that they might like it another time. Tell them about a kind of food you didn't like, but now love.
If your kids see that you don't "die" or go puke after trying a new food, they will be willing to do the same.
3. Play a Game. One game that has been recommended to me by my friend Jennifer, and my sister- in-law Karenin, is Bingo! We tried this for a week. I printed off a bingo sheet for everyone in the family and filled it in with all the vegetables we were planning on eating that week. Then I filled in any extra spots with fruits that we had on hand. Be sure to put garlic, and onions in there. My kids got really excited about eating new foods. They loved when they found out that a sauce I made had 3 different veggies in it, and all week long they waited for me to make parsnips! Be sure that you keep track too, so that they see how easy it is. I gave my kids one point each time they got a bingo, or they had a whole serving of a fruit or veggie on their bingo card (1/2 Cup). They could either turn their points in for a quarter, or for 5 minutes of extra screen time.
4. Educate them on why f and v are good for them. Kids are a lot like adults. We can have someone tell us one hundred times that something is good or bad for us, but until we understand WHY, we don't listen. Last night Emily wouldn't eat her dinner, so I briefly explain what was good for her about them (spinach has iron in it, and iron helps the oxygen get to all of your body parts, cheese has calcium that makes your bones strong, oranges have vitamin C that helps you get over colds faster, and helps cuts heal faster, avocados have fats in them that help her brain grow). My older kids found the iron fact fascinating and we talked briefly about iron at the dinner table. It shouldn't always be about WHY they are good for you. Food is a social and enjoyable thing, but fun quick facts can be helpful.
Dole has a great website that has lots of fun facts about different fruits and vegetables. Click here for the link. (Really, this is one of the best sites I have found, check it out).
I also enjoy watching Dr. Oz Show while I fold laundry during the day. He always has fun facts and healthy ideas.
5. Three other ways to get them to eat fruits and vegetable:
- Let them help prepare the food
- Hide it in the food; puree it up (broccoli does not work well for this, yuck!)
- Make it look cute. For one idea on this, see my little pizza men post.