Updated: Feb 15
We all know by now that we should be eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Sometimes it is just not easy to get them all in there. We are constantly tempted to fill up on convenience and junk food. If your family is anything like mine, they’d much rather fill up on a bag of crisp, a bowl of chips or pasta instead of trying an apple or a plate of steamed veggies. But even an adult isn't going to get excited about a plain old plate of broccoli. So to make it more appealing, we’ll have to get creative. Here are a few ideas to “sneak” some extra vegetables and fruits in your family’s diet.
1. Start the day with a breakfast smoothie. All you have to do is throw some fruits, oat milk or dairy free yogurt, few cubes of ice in a blender. You may also want to add a scoop of protein
powder in there for good measure. Just blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast ready to go. I like to pop mine in a thermal cup when it's a busy morning and drink it on the go. To make it even more appealing for your kids, use some frozen yogurt or a small
scoop of ice cream in the smoothie. They won’t believe that you are letting them have ice cream for breakfast. Tip, while these can be a healthy alternative they do contain natural sugars from fruits so keep an eye on portion size.
2. Dried fruit makes an excellent snack any time of the day. Add some small cartons of raisins to your child’s lunch, introduce some yogurt-covered raisins, and keep some mixed nuts sitting around for snacking. You can also add dried fruit to porridge and cereal in the morning. My daughters love banana chips on their breakfast cereal.
3. Add some fruits and vegetables to your family’s sandwiches. You can add some banana, sliced apples or strawberry slices to a wholemeal peanut butter sandwich. Top their favourite sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and anything else they will eat.
You can even make a sub shop style toasted vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with a great sauce and some violife cheese on wholemeal bread.
4. Make a fun salad bar at dinner. Set out a variety of chopped vegetables like carrot sticks, sliced sweet red pepper, spinach leaves, some crunchy garlic croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing along with the traditional lettuce and let everybody create their own perfect salad. The more colourful the better!
5. Let them drink their fruits and vegetables. Keep an assortment of fruit and vegetable juices in the fridge and encourage everyone to drink them as a snack. Get creative. You could start “family cocktail hour” by pouring everybody a glass of their favourite juice over ice. Add some straws, cocktail umbrellas and sit together to talk about how everybody’s day has been.
6. Try this for dessert. Put a small scoop of instant banana ice cream (frozen ripe banana, blended straight from the freezer with a dash of maple syrup) or frozen dairy free yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit. Make it fun and let everyone pick their own toppings.
7. Offer more fruits and vegetables as snacks. You can cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter. Keep cups of grapes in the fridge. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with a salsa or hummus dip. Roast some chickpeas in a spice mix as an alternative to nuts.
8. Try some new fruits and vegetables. Pick something exotic each week to spark your family’s curiosity. With a little luck their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to trying something new. You could try artichokes, plantains, papaya, mango, star fruit, or anything else you can find in the supermarket. You could even get the kids to learn a bit about where the new fruit or vegetable originated.
9. Make a pot of vegetable soup or a stew that’s heavy on veggies and easy on the meat or even better, meat free. Both of these make some great comfort food when the weather gets cold. Replace half or all of the meat with some filling lentils, beans or chickpeas, all are great sources of protien.
10. Start “My Veggie Day”. Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week and a recipe to cook it. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they tried each vegetable the week before, otherwise they lose a turn and Mum gets to pick.
Incorporate a few of these ideas and you will have everyone in your family eating
more fruits and vegetables in no time.
Here is another tip:
Now that everyone in the family has gotten a taste for it, buy less and less convenience processed snacks and make sure you always have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies available, ready to snack on or to make delicious meals. Remember variety is as important as quality, each fruit and vegetable has it's own unique range of nutrients, so eat plenty every day.
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