Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Making fruits and veggies more fun for the kids, and grown-ups too
We all know how important fruits and veggies are and I am blessed to have children who, I understand are a bit out of the ordinary, love fresh produce. To their credit, we do not have a battle of the wills when it comes to them eating their veggies. Cleaning their room, though...that is another story!
If you struggle with a finicky eater or just want to keep veggies interesting, here are some ideas that I have tried:
- Let them choose. Next time you are at the store, let your children pick out a new food to try. My children seemed more excited and less fearful of the new foods when we did this. We tried mango, kiwi and star fruit. The kids loved it all! Now, they often make requests in the produce department.
- For celery, of course you can try the ol' peanut butter on top stand-by. But, add a few raisins for "ants on a log." This is a treat at my house!
- For carrots and cucumbers, try one of the crinkle cutters. I got mine from Pampered Chef, but I'm sure you could find it at any store that sells kitchen gadgets. After you use the Crinkle Cutter, the food looks like the crinkled french fries. I have heard from a reliable source that veggies taste better this way.
- Cut them into different shapes. If you normally make apple wedges, try thin apple slices. Or even better, cut the apple horizontally to show the star inside. Sometimes we just need the same favorites to be just a little different. You could make cucumbers different by leaving the peel on but scoring it for a striped effect. This is best with the hothouse variety that have thinner peels.
- Try raw. My kids despise cooked squash. Carrots have to be cooked just right, but give it to them raw and it is like a whole other food! Healthier too, go figure.
- Use color. Lots of color is always healthy and appealing to most. In addition to the standard party platter type veggies, my kids love purple cabbage cut into bite-sized pieces and red and green pepper slices. Hey, you never know until you try it.
- Use variety to elimate boredom. Would you rather have a small bowl of carrot sticks or a bowl with a few carrot sticks, a small piece of celery, a few cucumber slices, a couple slices of pepper? Keep a variety of fresh produce sliced and ready in your fridge so you can easily pull out an assortment for lunches and snacks. I find prepping them all at once saves me time later.
- Use trickery. When all else fails, disguise. A dollop of ranch or Thousand Island will make most veggies more palatable to kids, at least in my experience. Chop them finely and you can sneak some into tuna or chicken salad, lasagna, and pizza. The ideas of where to hide them is endless and there are even a few books out now devoted to this. I have never had the need to try trickery, but it seems priceless if you are threatened by mutiny in your home, should you be brave enough to serve another vegetable.
I'm always on the lookout for new ways to serve fruits and veggies so that boredom doesn't set it. What ideas or tips do you have?
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