Getting kids to branch out from mashed potatoes and apple juice and try new fruits and vegetables can be an extremely daunting challenge. If you are desperate to get your child to eat a more balanced diet but do not know what to try next, here are some tips to encourage increased fruit and vegetable consumption by your kids.
Put On a Brave Face
Sometimes you just have to resort to outright humour to get kids to try a fruit or vegetable. The
Ms. Food Face Plate can help you out in this endeavour. You get to decorate the lady’s head on the plate with fruit or vegetable hair, earrings, and other accessories. Get ready for some laughs and hopefully some real intake of produce.
The Raw Deal
Carrots, celery, and sweet peppers can be sliced small to fit well into little hands and are a crunchy source of fibre and vitamins. A tasty vegetable dip made from Just Mayo by Hampton Creek is a way to incorporate a healthy and creamy plant based spread on their vegetables.
All the Colours of the Rainbow
Grouping intense fruit colours together in a clear cup give rainbow fruit cups their visual interest. Start with yellow pineapple chunks at the bottom, then layer with orange tangerine slices. Red strawberry wedges are next, then finish up with either purple grapes or blueberries. What a dynamic impact!
Fruit and Vegetable Mashups
Combining fruits and vegetables together in a dish for kids may seem untraditional, but why not try it? An example of this is to make a caterpillar inspired by the classic picture book by Eric Carle. To make it, take some tender lettuce and make a trail along the bottom of the plate with it. Then, cut grapes in half lengthwise to make the caterpillar’s body and place them in a zig zag pattern above the lettuce with a couple of grapes touching the lettuce. Cut a slice from the circular part of a strawberry to make a face and place on the plate. Cut a circular slice of orange and put it at the top of the plate to represent the sun. Slice a carrot into tiny matchsticks and use as the sun’s rays then cut one in half and use as the antennae of the caterpillar. Use small bits of grape for the eyes and mouth.
How about a giraffe or a sheep? They are both made with fruit and vegetable combinations. The giraffe has a full strawberry for a head, with the green stem and leaves as the back. The neck is made of three small pear tomatoes, but grapes could easily be substituted. Use a miniature bell pepper for the body, and celery sticks for the legs. This animal will need to be assembled with toothpicks or a broken bamboo skewer, so help your child take apart the animal safely.
The sheep has a cauliflower body, with a tiny sprig of cauliflower for the top of the head. The face of the sheep is a blackberry, and its feet are raisins. To be kid safe, try a tiny dab of nut butter to attach the body parts together.
It is a great idea to get toddlers fully immersed in vegetable eating before they become preschoolers. This recipe for Confetti Corn Pudding has an approachable texture while introducing colourful vegetables. With a short preparation time, it is perfect for busy parents to make.
Make a banana roll up by peeling a banana then covering it with honey, jelly, or nut butter. Wrap the sticky banana in a tortilla or wrap and slice into bite sized coins. It is a way to get a fruit serving into your child’s roll up sandwich!
Get Something Growing
Even if you only have room for pots propped on your balcony, you can get your older children involved with how vegetables grow by having your own little garden. With adult guidance, children can be involved in the selection of seeds, planting, and watering. Watching how the plants grow is topped off by the experience of harvesting your own vegetables and planning how you are going to eat them.
These strategies are meant to familiarise your children with vegetables, their growth, and how to enjoy them at the dinner table. Rather than hiding them in a puree, consistent introduction of identifiable vegetables in fun and novel ways encourages your child to consume them.