March 23, 2011

Get them to eat more of the good stuff

March 23, 2011
Fruits and Veggies = Nutritious and Delicious

Sometimes it takes some convincing (ok, a lot of convincing) for your kids and spouse to agree with you on them being "delicious".

I have a few tips that have worked for my family, I hope they work for yours too!

1. Make it easily accessible!
My mother used to keep all of the fruits and veggies in bags in the bottom drawer of the fridge. To find what we wanted we would have to search through the bags and hope to find something good. It was enough work that we would usually skim past the veggie drawer and go straight for the cold cereal and milk. 

Now I keep the fruit out on the counter top where we see them everyday and they disappear 5X faster! 
When we are hungry, a banana, orange, peach, or tomato is the first thing to catch our eye when we walk into the kitchen. And they look so pretty sitting in a basket or on a decorative plate.
Keep your veggies in plain view in the refrigerator,so when you open it up they will be the first things you grab.

2. Prep it!
I find that I often leave my veggies in the fridge for days and days because they aren't ready to be eaten right when I want them. They need to be washed, cut, or peeled.  A few minutes of prep time can make those veggies into a ready-to-eat snack. When you bring your fruits and veggies home, wash them and get them ready to eat.

Cut up your carrots into carrot sticks, peel and slice cucumbers, make some celery sticks to munch on.

Some should be washed right before eating to prevent premature rotting, such as berries and some leafy greens.
Wait to cut up fruits like apples, peaches, pears, bananas, pineapples or any other fruit that will brown. It's best to cut these right before you eat them.

4. Freeze it!
If you are worried that your family won't eat all of the fruits and veggies you buy, freeze them. Many can be easily frozen and used later for dinners or smoothies, or just to snack on.

HERE is a list of veggies that freeze well, and how to freeze them.

I love freezing fresh berries, peaches and mangoes! mmmm. 
Which leads me to my next tip: 

3. Smoooooothies!

Since I have been pregnant I have fallen in love with smoothies. They taste great and you get lots of nutrition out of them. Break out your blender (or your handy dandy Ninja mixer), add your favorite frozen and fresh fruits, some milk, a little bit of juice, and ice. Blend away!
Here's a secret ingredient: spinach. Sounds really gross but if you add 5-10 spinach leaves to your smoothie you won't even be able to taste it. Spinach adds extra nutrition and fiber which will help you feel satisfied longer too.
Even my kids will drink spinach smoothies! (But they thought I was CRAZY the first time I made it.)

4. Keep at it!
Many fruits and veggies have an acquired taste and your child won't like them the first time. Keep trying different foods and re-introduce foods often to see if your child will eat them. Be prepared to hear "I don't like this!" over and over. There will always be some foods that they will never like but give your children a chance to get used to new foods before you completely give up.
I got my oldest to eat carrots this way. After 2 years of trying, he finally will eat carrots! And now he loves them as a healthy snack. VICTORY!

There are also cookbooks filled with recipes about sneaking fruits and veggies. I personally don't try to hide anything in my kids' food. I want them to know that what they are eating is good for them. I think this will help them to choose better options for themselves when they are older.
But if it takes being sneaky to get those healthy foods into your children's mouths then do it! Keep them healthy and happy!
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