By: Sarah McWilliams
One of the most challenging issues parents face with young children is making sure they are getting the proper amounts of nutrients in their diets. Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a child’s diet, but getting a child to eat veggies is easier said than done.
Many times kids won’t want to eat fruits and vegetables because they look weird or have a funny name, and don’t even give the food a fair shot. It may feel like a daily struggle, but your cause is not lost. Although it may take a little creativity, and you might have to be a little sneaky, there are ways to get your kids to increase their fruit and vegetable intake. Here are some ideas to get you started.
The Green Monster Smoothie
With the same texture as ice cream, smoothies are a great way to get your kids to enjoy fruit. But you don’t have to stop at just fruit in the smoothie. Adding spinach and even kale to a smoothie adds plenty of nutrients without dramatically altering the taste. But how do you get your kids to drink something bright green? Give it a fun name! By calling it a Green Monster Smoothie or referring to Shrek or another green character your kids are more apt to drink it.
RECIPE (makes two servings):
1 cup of almond milk
1/2 cup of kale
1 cup of Spinach
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen fruit (berries usually have the best flavor)
Green Eggs and Ham
If you have ever read the Dr. Seuss Children’s Book, Green Eggs and Ham to your children there is a good chance you can get your children to give green eggs a chance. Many parents will think to add food coloring to the eggs to give them their green color, but a more nutritious version and a great way to sneak in a veggie is to add spinach to their eggs.
By using a food processor, you can chop the spinach small enough that the kids won’t notice it, and cook it in the eggs creating a new and more nutritious version of Green Eggs and Ham.
RECIPE (makes two servings):
3 large eggs
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup chopped ham
Kids tend to love anything with pizza in the title. Incorporate a full serving of fruit by making this delicious snack. Fruit pizza is a great and tasty way to get your kids to eat fruit. Be careful what recipe you choose, because some recipes incorporate quite a bit of fat and sugar.
Part of the trick of using whole grains in children’s diets is to always use them when they are young. If you only use whole grains, children will develop taste for whole grains and in the future many children will even prefer it over white.
RECIPE (makes eight servings):
1/2 cup whole grain flour
1/8 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup butter
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
1/6 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
3 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
20 g carbohydrate
Pumpkin Pizza Sauce
Making homemade pizza is a fun way to get your kids in the kitchen with you. One way to make your pizza healthier is by adding pumpkin puree to pizza sauce. Since the puree has a similar texture of the pizza sauce, kids won’t even notice the difference.
RECIPE (makes six servings):
1 cup canned unseasoned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
Add the nutritional benefits of bananas to your child’s lunch by making a peanut butter, banana sandwich. Because of the texture and strong taste of the peanut butter, your kids probably won’t notice much of a difference, and you will be adding valuable potassium to their diet.
2 slices of whole wheat bread
2 tablespoon of all natural peanut butter
Even though it may be easier to sneak in the food in fun ways, it is also important to encourage your children to try new things, and to keep a balanced diet. You want to make sure when they grow up, they learn the importance of a balanced and healthy diet, and keep up eating all of those fruits and vegetables they might not know they were even eating!