We all know by now that we should eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Sometimes it is just not easy to get them all in there, especially for your kids, who probably love 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 into your family’s diet.
1. Start the day with a breakfast fruit smoothie
All you have to do is throw some fruits and oat or almond milk in a blender. Bonus: Add a scoop of protein powder for extra protein. Just blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast. It is so easy to make countless variations by adding different fruit.
If you are looking to boost up your fat and skip the carbs add an avocado instead of a banana. You can also toss in some Spinach and they will have no idea that they are eating a vegetable!
To make it even more appealing for your kids, use some frozen yogurt or a scoop of ice cream in the smoothie. They won’t believe that you are letting them have ice cream for breakfast
Option: Grab one at Kale Me Crazy in Homewood or Clean Juice in Mountain Brook Village. If I make a smoothie at home I love using the Magic Bullet because it is so easy and small and comes with so many cup attachments. Plus the price is great for all that you get. The Nutribullet is another easy option and is a little bigger and stronger motor if you prefer adding kale, this is a better option.
2. Dried fruit makes an excellent snack any time of the day
Add some small cartons of raisins to your child’s lunch box, pack some yogurt-covered raisins in your husband’s briefcase 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 the extra crunch with banana chips in their breakfast cereal.
3. Add some fruits and vegetables to your family’s sandwiches
You can add some bananas, sliced apples, or strawberry slices to a peanut butter sandwich. Top a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, sprouts, pickles, 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
Set out a variety of chopped vegetables, cheese, chicken, and croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing along with the lettuce, and let everybody create their own perfect salad so they can eat fruits and vegetables.
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 favorite juice over ice. Add some straws, and cocktail umbrellas and sit together to discuss how everybody’s day went.
6. Add Fruit to dessert
Put a small scoop of ice cream (I prefer the So Delicious Dairy Free ice cream) or frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit.
Try this: Get Vanilla Ice Cream and frozen or fresh fruit of your choice, chopped, such as peaches, strawberries, and raspberries. Blend together for a fresh twist with some fresh fruit. You’re welcome!
7. Have a plate of fruits and vegetables as snacks on the countertop
After school or sports have a board or plate set out for some grab-and-go snacks. Chances are the kids are hungry and will want to nosh. 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 or hummus. And of course, there are ants on a log. Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins on it (wow, fruit and vegetable in one snack).
8. Try new varieties of fruits and vegetables
Pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. With a little luck, their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to try something new. You could try artichokes, plantains, papaya, mango, star fruit, dragon fruit, or anything else you can find in the produce department of your local store.
9. Make a 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 Mom gets to pick.
See what works best
Incorporate a few of these ideas and you will have everyone in your family eating healthier. I promise you kids and your family will eat more fruits and vegetables in no time. Once they discover their new favorites after exploring their tastes your family will have some new go-to’s.
Here is another tip: Now that everyone in the family has gotten a taste for it, make sure you always have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies available and ready to snack on. I always have ready-to-eat fruit in the fridge. I keep grapes, a cut-up assortment of melons, strawberries, and blueberries. In my fruit bowl, I always have loads of bananas and apples ready for the kids to grab and go. For my pick eater, I keep the portion-sized applesauce front and center so he can grab those for a quick snack.
I hope you find this helpful! What are your secret ways of incorporating fruits and veggies into your family’s diet? Let me know! xoxo, Laura