We all know by now that we should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Sometimes it's just not easy to get them all in there. We are constantly tempted to fill up on convenience and junk food and most would rather reach for the bag of chips verse an apple.
Here are a few ideas to “sneak” some extra vegetables and fruits in your family’s diet.
1. Start the day with a breakfast smoothie. All you have to do is throw some fruit, a handful of greens, avocado or greek yogurt and ice in a blender. You may also want to add a scoop of protein powder in there for good measure. Just blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast ready to go. I like to sip mine in a thermal cup while I'm running around the house finishing up my morning chores. To make it even more appealing for your kids, use some frozen yogurt or a scoop of chocolate greens powder. My little guy LOVES his smoothie every day and I know he's getting a healthy dose of goodness!
2. Dried fruit and veggies make an excellent snack any time of the day. Add some small cartons of raisins to your child’s lunch box or some dried blueberries or apples, pack some trail mix in your partners car or work bag and keep dried green beans, peas and apricots on hand for a quick pick me up! You can also add dried fruit to oatmeal and cereal in the morning. My hubby loves dried cranberries and nuts in his breakfast porridge.
3. Add veggies to your sammies! Let's be honest, a good sandwich doesn't exist without lettuce, tomato and onion! Although I'm not a huge fan of deli meat due to its processing, you can easily carve your own meat from a rotisserie chicken or a spiral ham. Top it with some veggies and there's another serving of goodness in your day! Get creative ! A turkey, brie, cranberry and spring green sandwich brings an artisan deli right to your lunch bag.
4. Have a salad bar at dinner! Set out a variety of chopped raw vegetables, pickled and fermented veggies, dried fruit, a variety of greens, seeds, nuts and salad dressing choices! Buffet style is SO fun for kiddos as they get to feel empowered to make their own meal. Make it colorful and you know you're getting in the goodness that you need.
5. Let your family drink their fruits and vegetables. Keep an assortment of fruit and vegetable juices in the fridge and encourage everyone to drink them as a snack. Get creative. You could start “family happy hour” by pouring everybody a glass of his or her favorite juice over ice. Add some straws, cocktail umbrellas and sit together to talk about how everybody’s day went. Making your own juice is the most cost effective and ensures you aren't loading up on fruit sugar, but there are a few companies that offer bulk, cold-pressed juices as well. I always lean toward veggie juices with a little fruit verses the other way around.
6. Don't forget dessert. Put a small scoop of dairy free ice cream or frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh fruit! Add some sprigs of herbs like lavender, mint or lemon balm and support after dinner digestion and calming before bed to boot!
7. Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks. You can cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter or offer greek yogurt topped with cinnamon for dipping. Cube cheese and serve with grapes. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with dip. And of course there’s ants on a log. Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins or cranberries on it.
8. Try some new fruits and vegetables. Pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. With a little luck their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to trying something new. You could try artichokes, plantains, papaya, mango, star fruit, or anything else you can find in the produce department of your local store.
9. Make a pot of vegetable soup or a stew that’s heavy on veggies and easy on the meat. Both of these make some great comfort food when the weather gets cold.
10. Start “My Veggie Day”. Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week as a side or add-in to dinner. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they have tired the vegetable before or are the first to taste it at dinner!
Staying on top of fruit and veggie consumption can be a challenge, but always having options available and making it "the norm" in your house will ease your family into getting these crucial nutrients in. Make it fun and speak positively about healthy eating. Mindset shift is half the battle with kids, not taste. If mama and papa like it, fact is, kiddo probably will too.