We all know by now that we should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day – in fact that’s a conservative estimate. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Sometimes it is just not easy to get them all in there. We are constantly tempted to fill up on convenience and junk food. If your family is anything like mine, they’d much rather fill up on a bag of chips or a bowl of rice or pasta instead of trying an apple or a plate of steamed broccoli. So we’ll have to get creative.
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 fruits, low-fat yoghurt 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.
You could sip your smoothie in a thermal cup on the way to work or just keep it by the side of your desk at home.
As a special weekend treat for your kids, use some frozen yoghurt or a scoop of ice cream in the smoothie. They won’t believe that you are letting them have ice cream for breakfast.
#2 Dried fruit makes an excellent snack any time of the day
With the proviso that too much is bad for our teeth and fresh fruit is always preferable but you could add some small cartons of raisins to your child’s lunch box, pack some yoghurt-covered raisins in your sandwich box and keep some trail mix sitting around for snacking.
You can also add dried fruit to oatmeal and cereal in the morning. My family loves banana chips in their breakfast cereal.
Just make sure little ones clean their teeth a good thirty minutes after eating sugary foods like these to protect their tooth enamel.
#3 Add fruit and veg to the family’s sandwiches
You can add some banana, sliced apples or strawberry slices to a peanut butter sandwich. Top a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and anything else they will eat. You can even make a sub shop style vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with some mayonnaise and cheese on bread.
#4 Have a ‘salad bar’ at dinner
If it works for Pizza Hut …. set out a variety of chopped vegetables, some cheese and croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing along with the lettuce and let everybody create their own perfect salad.
#5 Let them 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 cocktail hour” by pouring everybody a glass of his or her favourite juice over ice. Add some straws, cocktail umbrellas and sit together to talk about how everybody’s day went.
#6 Make a fruity dessert
Put a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yoghurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit. Make your own Eton Mess by smashing a meringue nest and combining berries and fresh cream.
#7 Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks
You can cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter or cheese. Cube cheese and serve with grapes. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with ranch 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 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 stew
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. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they tried each vegetable the week before, otherwise, they lose a turn and Mum gets to pick.
Incorporate a few of these ideas and you will have everyone in your family eating more fruits and vegetables in no time.