- Use Shapes – Sometimes a good presentation is all it takes. Try cutting sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters. There is a large variety of cookie cutters that you can really get creative with. For example, I have used letter cookie cutters to spell fun things, or holiday cutters during the different seasons.
- Put fruit and vegetables on toothpicks – Again, the presentation is the key here. This will take there focus off what they are actually eating when it is presented in a new and fun way. Try putting fruits such as grapes, cut up apples, strawberries, melons, pineapple, blueberries, mandarin oranges, or bananas on a toothpick. Another thing to try is to put some cut up fruit in a bowl and let your child use a toohtpick to pick the fruit up with. This also works really well with vegetables. Just beware of choking. Only try this with children who are old enough and are accustomed to chewing solid foods.
- Make a smoothie – A great way to sneak in some fruits, and even yogurt, is to make a fruit smoothie. The possibilities are endless. Let your children get creative. You can use all sorts of different fruits for a sweet and refreshing treat. Here are a few yummy fruit smoothies:
1/2 c. orange or apple juice
1/2 c. vanilla yogurt
3-4 frozen strawberries
1/2 banana-fresh or frozen
5-6 frozen blueberries
5-6 ice cubesmix ingredients in a blender
1/2 c.orange juice
1/2 c. lemon yogurt
1/2 c. frozen pineapple
5-6 ice cubes
- Hide your vegetables – Try hiding small , chopped vegetables in your meals. I cut green beans, broccoli and carrots really small and mix them in my main dishes, like pastas, casseroles, and rice dishes.
- Grow a garden – Not only is this a wonderful skill for children to learn, it is fun and the whole family can get involved. Let your children pick the seeds they want to plant. Then help them plant their seeds, label them, water them, and watch them grow. They my be more likely to try a new fruit or vegetable if they were involved in the whole process.
- Get your kids involved – Let your children help plan out your meals. Give each child a turn picking the menu. Take them to the store and let them help do the shopping, and finally, let them help prepare the meal.
- Carry healthy snacks with you – When you are out and about, pack healthy snacks with you. Try peanuts or other nuts, fruit leather, dry cereal, sliced fruits and vegetables, pretzels, string cheese, and raisins and cranberries. Let your children know this is all there is to snack on until you are home. Try filling a little snack sized sandwich bag with different snacks. I call it a “snack pack.” Fill the bag with nuts, little crackers, marshmallows, pretzels and raisins or dried cranberries. Make a little bag for each individual child.
- Try frozen fruits and vegetables – Frozen fruits, and yes, even frozen vegetables are a delicious and nutritious snack. If you are having a problem with your children not liking the texture of fruits and vegetables, freezing them will help. The texture is no longer mushy and squishy. I have also read that frozen fruits and vegetables have the highest level of nutrients and minerals compared to fresh or canned fruit. Most frozen fruits and veggies are frozen shortly after being picked, whereas fresh produce, unless it is local, is usually a few days old when it is finally set out in the supermarket. And canned fruits and veggies have a lot of sugar and salt. I have found that frozen bananas, blueberries, peas, corn, small carrot chunks, sliced strawberries and grapes all make great snacks. Just remember to be aware of choking.
Eating habits start young. Eating healthy will become a habit for your children, and you will find they like to eat nutritious snacks, rather than snacks filled with fat, preservatives, salt, and high fructose corn syrup. And, moderation is a wonderful thing. A few treats here are there not going to hurt. Of course parents are the best examples for their children by what they eat and buy at the grocery store.
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