Everyday is a good day for encouraging your child to eat more fruits and vegetables. Finding creative ways can be fun for the entire family.
There are more fruits and vegetables available in fresh, frozen, canned and dried forms than ever before. Taking the time to introduce a variety of fruits and vegetables to kids can help develop a lifetime of healthy habits.
Here are some suggestions from the Center for Disease Control.
•Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter. Refrigerate cut up fruits and vegetables in small bags for easy snacks on the run.
•Serve fruits and vegetables at every meal. Add grated or cut vegetables into entrees, side dishes, and soups. Top off cereal with fruits or add frozen fruits to smoothies.
•Set a good example. Snack on fruit and order low-sodium, low-fat salads, soups, or vegetable sides when at restaurants.
•Pack the refrigerator, freezer and cupboard with pre-cut, frozen and canned vegetables so it is easier for you to prepare meals and snacks that include vegetables.
•Challenge family members to reach their daily fruits and vegetable goal. Reward the winner with a prize of his or her choice.
•Ask that fruits and vegetables be offered at school functions, after school programs and in vending meals.
•Let children choose which fruits and vegetables to serve and how to incorporate them into their favorite meals.
•Make fruits and vegetables fun. Try dressing up sandwiches with faces and smiles made from fruits and vegetables.
•Keep trying. For some foods, it may take multiple times before a child acquires a taste for it.
•Encourage friends or relatives to offer vegetables and fruits to your children.
Smells, texture, and color are important factors. Keep these things in mind:
•Kids are turned off to trying new foods if the smell, flavor, or color is not appealing to them. It may be more appealing to a child if the fruits or vegetables are served raw.
•Try feeding different textures of fruits and vegetables to your child. Some children prefer smooth food, where as others like lumpy, and some children like crisp foods, but others like soft.
•Offer new fruits and vegetables in combination with old favorites to show your child a variety of smells, textures, and colors. Various vegetables can be added to any whole grain pasta dish or pizza, and fruit is a great topping for low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
Toddler safety is important when it comes to eating fruits and veggies. Here are some suggestions:
•Modify the shape and texture of firm foods. To avoid choking, cut grapes into quarters, chop apples and firm fruits into very small pieces, and cook carrots and hard vegetables until soft, then cut into small pieces.
•Keep an eye on small children when they are eating. Small children may eat in a hurry, stuff too much food in their mouths or chew their food inadequately, which may cause a child to choke.
•Prevent injuries by prohibiting children from running or playing while chewing food. Feed small children only when they are sitting down and are in a relaxed atmosphere. Train toddlers to chew their food thoroughly before swallowing.
Below is a kid-friendly recipe you may want to give a try. It is colorful and provides kids with many important nutrients, including vitamin A. It makes a good snack, side dish or dessert.
Carrot and Raisin Sunshine Salad
1 pound carrots (5-6) peeled and shredded
½ cup raisins
1 cartoon (8 oz.) low-fat vanilla yogurt
4 to 6 iceberg lettuce leaves
Mix all ingredients together except lettuce leaves in a mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Toss again before serving. Serve on lettuce leaves. (Makes four to six servings.)
For further information, you may contact Adrianne Vidrine at the LSU AgCenter at (337) 788-8821 or you can also visit our website at http://www.lsuagcenter.com.