Practical food tips for parents from a RD and mom of three

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quick fruit and vegetable tips

Sometimes it's a challenge to get kids excited about fruit and veggies. Offering them in a new way can make them interesting.

When Lila was two, she became bored with sliced apples so I offered her a whole apple. Her eyes lit up and she happily chomped her way through the whole thing. This has worked wonders, she loves to crunch through whole carrots, celery with leafy tops (thanks Wonder Pets), pickle-sized cucumbers, peaches, plums, and lots of other veggies and fruit. I even offered Ned (15 months) a whole peach the other day and he loved it!

Whenever I give any whole fruit to the kids I stay close by to make sure they don't take bites that are too big. I try to avoid raw crunchy veggies until they are 3 or 4 and watch to make sure they don't choke.

Other new things you can try without a lot of effort:
  • cut up fruit with a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • offer veggies that you typically serve cooked raw and vice-versa
  • check for new colors of typical favorites, like yellow watermelon, blue or purple potatoes, or golden delicious (yellow) apples
  • try new dips for fruit and veggies

You may be dealing with a baby, toddler, or preschooler who refuses to eat any vegetables. This is common, just try the tips above and keep serving vegetables to your child as part of each family meal. Eat veggies in front of your child and casually tell them how good they are. Do NOT make a big deal out of it, or vegetable eating will become a power struggle. Make sure your child is getting a variety of fruit in his/her diet (if they will eat fruit) plus fiber-rich whole grains. You may want to sneak veggies into favorite foods (I mentioned Jessica Seinfeld's book Deceptively Delicious in a previous post, it has tons of stealth recipes you can try).

Today's tip: Change the way you serve fruit and veggies to make them new and exciting.

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