It's no secret that many kids don't like to eat their fruits and vegetables. The secret is how parents get their kids to eat them anyway. We asked our readers to open up and share how they get the healthy food off their kids plates, past those picky taste buds and into their tummies. Here are ten of our favourites:
1. Hiding it in the sauce. A number of our crafty readers confessed to grating and chopping such veggies as zucchini, carrots and spinach into their pasta and cheese sauces so that picky eaters can't see or taste them. Virgina Francey of Brampton, Ont., even goes one step further, "I purée the mushrooms before I put them in the spaghetti sauce. This way they don't see them and pick them out."
Do your kids love or hate to eat healthy fruits and veggies? Share your best tips to get kids to nosh on healthy foods with other readers in the comments section below.
2. Adding it to dessert. What kid can pass up ice cream or Jello? Adding fresh fruit pieces to Jello, yogurt or ice cream makes a healthy treat. One parent suggests puréeing fruit and using it as homemade topping instead of chocolate syrup; another suggests letting your kids make their own fruit parfaits.
3. Put it in the meat. Grating vegetables in meat dishes works well, too. Hide grated veggies in meatballs, casseroles, meatloaf, shepherd's pie and lasagna.
4. Make it fun. Some of our readers don't have to sneak in the veggies – they just make eating them fun. Rocky Brooks of Victoria, BC, says, "We pick up the broccoli and say green tree. We dip it in the sauce and it is a white tree. Then we see who can make the biggest crunch with the celery. The kids love it."
A method Tish Gatenby of Ottawa came up with for her two boys is Dinosaur Rice. "It's simply plain white rice cooked in chicken broth and then I mix in very finely diced cooked spinach. I put in on their plates in the shape of a tree and they get to pretend they are herbivore dinosaurs and eat the tree."
Page 1 of 2 – Read page two for six more tips!
5. One pot, many vegetables. Most of our readers agree that making homemade soups, stews and chilies are all easy ways to increase your family's intake of vegetables and fruit. The consensus seems to be that everything and anything healthy should go into the pot. "When making soups or stews, I purée veggies my family doesn't like (ie. cooked cauliflower) and add it to the stock to use as a thickener," writes Jan Hosking of Courtice, ON.
6. The mystery ingredient. Many of our readers admitted to using their kids' favourite cookies, cakes and breads as a cover for fruits and vegetables. "I make a lot of nice sweet breads and desserts with vegetables – zucchini bread, banana bread, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie…" says Marisa Deschamps of King City, ON. Gloria Peters of Saskatoon says, "I slip fruits and veggies in all kinds of things; applesauce in cookies, zucchini in chocolate cake, grated carrots in pasta sauce. It's amazing what you can add without anyone noticing that they are getting extra fruits and vegetables."
7. Fast and healthy food. Many of our readers make homemade pizza with the kids. Give them tons of healthy toppings to choose from such as tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and pineapple and let them make their very own pizza for dinner. Another fun food to try is tacos.
8. Start the day off right. Many readers said the best opportunity to fill your kids up on their fruit for the day is breakfast. Some common morning staples mentioned were: peanut butter and banana on toast, cereal with fresh or dried fruit, pancakes or waffles with fruit toppings, fresh fruit smoothies and a yogurt and sliced fruit combo. For 10 kid-friendly recipes that start the school day off right, check out our breakfast superheroes collection.
9. Include a variety of veggies and fruit with every meal. Don't always rely on green salad with dinner to get your kids to eat their vegetables. Instead our readers suggest trying popular dishes such as stir-fries and omelettes that include the vegetables right in the recipe. "Omelettes are an excellent way. Add onions, celery, carrots, spinach, zucchini, etc. to them and then serve with fresh fruit on the side," says Arleen MsConghy of New Westminister, BC. Some other recipes mentioned were Mango Chicken and Chicken Caesar Wraps.
10. Keep it handy. We are happy to report that many of our readers' children love their fruit and vegetables as long as it's easy to grab on the go. Some reader-tested suggestions: keep washed fruit in a bowl on the table and keep ready-to-serve individual fruit cups and veggies and dip packs in the fridge. Monica Forbes Sherwood Park, AB, says, "I wash and cut them up as soon as I bring them home from the grocery store and leave them in a prominent spot in the fridge!"
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