Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to Make Kids Crave Their Veggies and Fruits

Getting kids to eat the recommended 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day is a challenge. We all know that. The good news is that there are many things we can do to make it happen! Studies published by the Journal of American Dietitian Association  show that in a particular sample, "most children (97.8%) enjoyed taste-testing fruits and vegetables. Children also liked preparing fruit and vegetable snacks (93.4%), working in their garden (95.6%), and learning about fruits and vegetables (91.3%). Impact data suggest that the intervention led to an increase in the number of fruits and vegetables ever eaten, vegetable preferences, and fruit and vegetable asking behavior at home."

Parents are the role model for their kids, so a good start is to enjoy a variety of foods themselves, especially fruits and vegetables. Although infants often get a lot of healthy foods, once they start eating table food, what you eat is going to be a big influence on what your kids like to eat. Also, kids should be offered repeated opportunities to try new foods. That may mean offering up to 10 times a particular type of vegetable before the child can start enjoying it.
Here is a list of successful tips from experienced moms to get kids (and adults) to crave their veggies and fruits:

- Mix fruit pieces (dry or fresh) in with yogurt.
- Make fruit smoothies (click here for delicious recipes).
- Offer a fruit salad as a dessert or snack.
- Add chopped fruit, especially berries and bananas, to your child's cereal.
- Offer chopped veggies with a dip, like ranch dressing.
- Serve vegetables as a stir-fry (check out this amazing recipe).
- Knowledge is key: explain to kids the benefits of eating particular vegetables. Bring the explanation to their level of understanding. They are smart and will certainly remember!
- Sneak veggies in: soups, salads, risottos, meat loaf, meat balls, pasta, pizza, quesadilla (take a look at our healthy recipes links). Grated carrots, sweet potato and zucchini go great in muffins and bread.
- Shop at farmers' markets: vegetables flavor intensifies the longer they're on the shelf, particularly if they're wrapped. Fresh vegetables taste a lot better. Try it!
- Cheese it up: moderate amounts of cheese sauce can make broccoli or cauliflower tastier (try this recipe!).
- Use dips: low fat dips such as humus (check out this easy recipe) make a great combination with veggies.
- Let kids participate: we can't stress this one enough. Allow kids to choose their veggies, and participate in the food preparation.
- Spring is the ideal time to start a garden. Motivating children to participate in gardening activities at home is a fun event (click here to see how!) Programs and activities that connect children with healthful food through fun, hands-on events have a long term effect on their fruits and vegetables intake for life.
- Lastly, according to a recent Dutch study reported by LiveScience, if fruits are presented in a visually appealing way, kids can eat almost twice as much!

Based on sources:, and,

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