I guess I am one of the lucky ones when it comes to getting my kids to eat fruit and vegetables. My kids love salads and pretty much every vegetable, the exception being lima beans and turnips. As for fruit – no problem, to them it is as good as a dessert. I know not all Moms are as blessed though, and in some households’ mealtime is like a battlefield, with Johnny or little Susie refusing to eat anything but processed chicken nuggets and french fries and poor Mom trying everything under the sun, from threats to bribery to get them to even try a taste of something else.
Most nutritionists believe that in order for a child to actually try a new food they must see it at least five times, so even though you know that they probably won’t try it, put a little bit on their plates nonetheless – even a teaspoon will do. Try to lead by example – them see you really enjoying your veggies. Children seem to like sweet things, so try and offer the sweeter nutritional foods such as peas, tomatoes and sweet corn.
Other things to try to get veggies and fruits into your kids are:
• Add finely chopped vegetables to turkey or hamburgers.
• Make breads that contain them like banana, pumpkin or zucchini bread.
• Add vegetable and fruit puree such as carrot or applesauce to your muffin recipes
• Serve miniature veggies like baby carrots or corn with a dip
• Make dips such as spinach or dill dip
• Put them in cream soups like broccoli or carrot.
• Add pureed fruit to custard or puddings
• Try dried fruit which is much sweeter
• Put finely chopped or pureed veggies in spaghetti sauce
• Make casseroles with pasta cheese and chopped veggies
• Put cheese sauce on them
• Add chopped celery and apple to tuna or chicken salad
• Get your kids involved in the making of menu’s shopping and preparation of the food
• Make fresh juices and smoothies with fruit and vegetables
• Plant a garden and get your kids involved in the planting, water and harvesting of the produce.
Try to be patient with your children when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables, ask them to have a small taste, but never force them to eat it. It is important to keep in mind that children’s taste buds are a lot more sensitive than an adult. Foods like spinach, brussel sprouts or broccoli have a slight bitter taste that your child may find unappealing. Sometimes it is just the texture of the food itself that will turn your child off. The main thing is not to lose hope. You can get your kids to eat their veggies and fruit, but it might take a bit of ingenuity on your part