A new study of over 65 thousand adults has shown that fruit and vegetables consumption leads to longer, healthier lives. Current government guidelines (based on advice from the World heath Organisation) are that we should eat ‘5-a-day’, i.e. consume 80g (3oz) of fruit and veg a day.
How easy do you find it to get your kids to eat even this amount?
Here are a few tips on how to encourage your kids to eat more fruit and vegetables:
– Making fresh fruit smoothies is really fun – try involving the children in making their own if you have a blender. Strawberries, bananas, raspberries and mangos all blend well with frozen yoghurt or a little milk to make delicious smoothies. (Use frozen berries to make the smoothies nice and cold.)
– Make fruit and vegetable faces on plates with carrot sticks for hair, banana slices for eyes, orange segment mouths… whatever you and the kids fancy. Perhaps you could make a whole family of fruit and veg portraits and then eat them all up together. If you eat your fruit and vegetables, your kids are more likely to.
– Introduce different fruits and vegetables at various times; perhaps a bit of carrot at one meal, a strawberry at another. Keep things moving and don’t get too hung up on forcing a particular fruit or vegetable on your child; they’ll probably end up hating it if you do. Try to keep neutral and just regularly serve vegetables at meals and fruit afterwards.
– Homemade or shop-bought fresh soups are a good way to get fruit and vegetables into children without them kicking up a fuss. Try a simple leek and potato or tomato soup recipe for starters. The key is to make sure the soup is freshly made.
– Kids will often happily eat vegetables if they can dip them in something such as hummus, guacamole, yoghurt or grated cheese. Fresh carrots, celery, cucumber and peppers all chop up nicely into perfect dipping sticks.
– Baked goods such as banana muffins and blueberry pancakes are another way to introduce your children to the sweetness of fruits, especially if they enjoy baking with you.
– Kids may prefer vegetables that have been slightly sweetened or given strong flavours such as glazed carrots or cauliflower cheese.
– If you have a juicer, this is a brilliant way to up the fruit and vegetable consumption of the whole family. Juiced apples are wonderful combined with a little ginger and a few carrots. YUM!
– Start them young – introduce fresh vegetables and fruits from weaning. If you don’t have time to make your own purees, companies such as Ella’s Kitchen make fantastic off-the-shelf combinations of fresh fruit purees that my older kids still enjoy!
– Eat a food rainbow by choosing a colour to focus on each day of the week. Tuesday for example, could be green, so wear green socks and try out green foods (broccoli, peas and mint ice cream for dessert!) Wednesday could be orange so time to serve the butternut squash and mangos. You get the idea, make it fun!