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Eat your vegetables – tips for parents and kids

May 30, 2012

Guest blog by intern Sara Denzer, Dietetic Technician for The Minnesota Project’s Fruits of the City and Garden Gleaning Project.

It’s summer!  In Minnesota that means time for us to enjoy all the fresh and tasty produce.  The challenge for some parents is getting their kids to get excited about fresh fruits and vegetables, too.  Here are some helpful tips to get kids to beg for more broccoli (or less scary fruits and vegetables at least.)

  • Bring them shopping with you.  I know this can be a challenge, but the benefits can be great.  Have them choose at least one fruit and vegetable they want to try for the week.  They may be more willing to try something that they picked out themselves.  Encourage newness and variety, but ultimately make it their decision.  If bringing them shopping is not feasible for you, talk with them before shopping and ask their input.  If you have internet access, look through pictures of different fruits and vegetables available at your grocer, and have them choose.  Then use this fruit or vegetable in a meal, or for their snack.
  • We all eat with our eyes first, especially kids.  Making food into fun shapes and having different color varieties will help with fruit and vegetable acceptance.  Make meals into smiley faces or flowers and clouds, and other “scenery”.  Small cookie cutters can be used to cut zucchini, kiwi, and melon into heats and stars.  Make colorful kabobs with blueberries, strawberries and banana; or green peppers, tomatoes and yellow squash.  Make vegetable “chips” (thin round cuts) or “sticks” out of carrots, kohlrabi, and jicama.  Provide a healthy dip of yogurt for fruit, and hummus or guacamole for your kabobs, chips and sticks.
  • Let them help “cook.”  Even if they are too young to use a sharp knife, or sauté vegetables, kids can be involved in the cooking process.  This, like including them in shopping, will make them feel more connected with their food and therefore more accepting of it.  For meals, let them assemble a salad with cherry tomatoes and avocado (that you previously cut up).  For snacks, let them make a yogurt parfait with raspberries (or fruit of the week).  Cut up fruit for a salad and have them mix it together in a bowl with yogurt for a healthy and refreshing dessert.
  • If you have a garden, let your kids participate in planting, watering, and weeding (you could always use help with this part!)  Let them help choose recipes for the different fruits and vegetables.  When it comes time to harvest, they will be so excited to try the foods that they helped grow.

For more ideas on getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, and recipes go to:

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