An ideal plate is filled with 50% fruits and veggies with the rest of the plate occupied by whole grains, proteins and dairy. Unfortunately, only 50% of a kid’s plate is firstly filled and in that, fruits and vegetables are hardly scattered here and there.
Fruits and veggies help children grow up, be strong and healthy and perform well in school. While kids may try to outsmart parents by finding smarter means to refrain from eating produce, parents should be even more smarter. They should present fruits and vegetables in interesting and fun ways that would make kids enjoy and ask for more!
Fill half the plate with colorful fruits and vegetables and encourage children to eat more of these nutritional powerhouses. Try to keep vegetables in their undisguised state to allow children to understand and like its authentic taste, texture and aroma. Placing veggies at the center of the table makes kids understand that they are vital to any meal and motivate them to help themselves to these veggies. Veggies are not like porridge that go skating inside the mouth. It needs to be chewed and hence, children take time eating them. This helps children eat mindfully at the table and remain seated for a considerable time instead of trying to gobble up the food present and run out of sight.
Complement Your Lunch Bag
Fruits add taste and sweetness to lunch menus. Carry along an apple, kiwi, plums, pear, tangerine, cherries or dried fruits in your lunch bag.
Overload Sandwiches with Produce
Weekends can be a great time to have a relaxed meal together as a family. You can set a sandwich bar with numerous options amongst which family members can pick and choose their desirable ones. Have a grand spread of bell pepper strips, cucumber rounds, onion rings, sliced tomato, lettuce, marinated artichoke hearts, avocado slices, pineapple cubes, cheese chunks, hummus and mustard.
One New Produce at a Time
Pick a new fruit or vegetable every week when you go to the supermarket. Add plantains in stew, avocado in salads and mustard greens in stir fries. Take your kids along and make them choose the new fruit or veggie of their choice from the supermarket aisles. By doing this, kids look forward to eating the produce that they chose from the market and develop an affinity towards produce.
Make a Crunch Salad
Use crunchy iceberg lettuce as salad base even if you know that other greens make a better choice as they are much more filled with nutrients. Over this base, load the bowl with colorful vegetables such as beet strips, shredded purple cabbage, spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes and baby carrots, fruits such as cherries, kiwis, berries and apples along with different legumes.
Veggie Toast for Breakfast
If you are planning to have an omelet for breakfast, sprinkle a variety of finely diced vegetables over the omelet, you can make a creative tofu scramble with your vegetables or even prepare your toast with avocado, white beans and sautéed mushrooms.
Don’t be Sneaky All the Time
Any veggie on the plate is shoved off by some kids and their parents try to sneak in veggies through their favorite foods. This is ok but should not be the only way to make your child eat produce. By doing this, you are not exposing your child to the variety of produce available, their goodness is not highlighted and you yourself become the barrier in nurturing an individual as a vegetable lover.
Picky eaters do throw tantrums and try all ways possible to avoid eating veggies. Disguising vegetables in simple ways are helpful in getting them eat their produce. But, any other option other than disguise is better when it comes to serving vegetables. You can beat some carrots along with your kid’s favorite fruit while making a smoothie, make parathas with vegetables along with cheese or add veggies while making bhel puri. Try using veggies as flavoring agents similar to herbs and spices. Sprinkle sliced onions and bell peppers onto pizzas, top poha with onions and peas or add tomatoes and avocados onto tacos.
Explore Greener Pastures
Boiling a plateful of vegetables and serving them with pepper and salt to your family members is the simplest job. But do you think it will be exciting and interesting for your family to eat? Never! Get creative, explore new options and serve a variety of dishes. Try different cooking methods, herbs and spices or present veggies along with dips, form interesting cartoon characters out of produce and pack your kid’s lunch box or add them to crunchy salads. Get more ideas on packing your child’s lunch box in an interesting way with tips from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Even when any of your above efforts go in vain don’t get frustrated but remain patient. Never force something onto your child as it usually backfires but never stop offering produce too to your kids! Continue to make fruits and veggies a part of your kid’s everyday meal and snack and offer them in different ways. In due course your kid is bound to like them, at least few of them, and start eating them as a part of their everyday meal.