Often children have an adverse reaction to being asked to eat fruits and veggies. If you want your kids to eat more produce the following easy tips are bound to help. Children like it when fruits and vegetables are in small, easy-to-eat, easy-to-grab, bite-sized pieces. Many children may be missing teeth or have braces, making larger produce (like a whole apple) too difficult to eat. Unfortunately, fruits and vegetables are often served whole, both at home and at school, causing children to eat less than those sliced into chunks. Make sure fruits and vegetables are not brown, bruised, wilted, or otherwise damaged. This doesn’t need much explanation: no one wants to eat rotten food and children seem to be especially offended by non-perfect foods! Make sure you take care of your fruits and veggies and eat them in a timely fashion to ensure they don’t go bad before they are put into little hands.
Give fruits and vegetables fun names: By giving fruits and vegetables fun names, you are almost guaranteed to entice children to eat more of them. In a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University, naming foods fun names (i.e. X-Ray Vision Carrots, Power Punch Broccoli, Silly Dilly Green Beans) increased vegetable consumption by 66% in one study and 99% in a second study. This is a simple, cost-effective, and low-effort way to add pizzazz to eating fruits and vegetables.
Lead by example: Monkey see, monkey do! If your child sees you eating carrots at dinner or snacking on a banana after lunch, they are more likely to do the same. You need your 5-a-day too, so make sure you get it and your kids know it!
Ask for help in the kitchen: Kids are more likely to try something they helped make so get your kids in the kitchen. Ask for help making a green bean casserole or a broccoli salad. If they see how it’s done and what goes into it, they will most likely be more enticed to eat it.
Grab-and-Go: A bag of chips or a sleeve of cookies is an easy and delicious snack for kids (or you) to grab and munch on. But fruits and vegetables can be the same way! Pre-chop and pre-portion fruits and vegetables in baggies and store them in easy-to-reach places for children. That will help kids make good choices when they want to mindlessly munch in front of the TV or grab a snack before going to a friend’s house.
Dip it and Dunk it: Kids love dips! Dips can be super easy, inexpensive, and a great way to jazz up snacks. Easy dips include peanut butter, hummus, guacamole, low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt, and low-fat or fat-free ranch. You can find healthy dip recipes by going to usda.gov/whatscooking and searching for “dips”.
Kid-Friendly Sweet Potato Muffins
(Servings: 12 Serving Size: 1 muffin)
4 Tablespoons margarine
½ cup sugar
⅔ cup mashed sweet potatoes
¾ cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup milk
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup raisins
Nutritional Information: 131 calories; 20 grams carbs; 5 grams fat; 2 grams protein; 13 grams sugar; 489 milligrams sodium
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