You have probably heard by now how important it is to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables or more every day. But knowing and doing are two different things….right? It is a known fact that our food industry has evolved in the 20th century with even more convenient options like ready-to-eat dinners, fast foods, and other unhealthy options. To be honest, I ate badly when I was studying at university. There was a pizza joint and a convenience store right around the corner where I use to live. I would much rather fill up on a bag of chips or a bowl of rice or garlic fingers instead of trying an apple or a plate of steamed broccoli. Weird eh….. I was studying to become a dietitian, but I wasn’t eating like one. It wasn’t until after when I graduated from university that I began to eat healthier. So if your family is struggling to eat their fruits and veggies, we’ll have to get creative. Here are my top 10 tried and true sneaky ways to hide fruits and veggies in your family’s diet.
Start the day with a breakfast smoothie. All you have to do is throw some fruits, veggies (I love adding spinach, cauliflower, kale, or squash) low-fat yogurt, 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. I like to sip mine in a thermal cup on the way to the gym.
Dried fruit makes an excellent snack any time of the day. Add some extra cartons of raisins to your child’s lunch box, pack some yogurt-covered raisins in your spouse’s lunch bag and keep some trail mix sitting around for snacking. You can also add fruit to oatmeal and cereal in the morning.
Add some fruits and vegetables to your 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 by combining several different vegetables with some mayonnaise and cheese on board.
Have a salad bar at dinner. 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.
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, cocktail umbrellas, and sit together to talk about how everybody’s day went.
Try this for dessert. Put a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit.
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 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, fruits and vegetables in one snack.
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, start fruit, or anything else
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.
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.
Incorporate a few of these ideas and you will have everyone in your family eating more fruits and vegetables in no time.
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. Here are 15 after-school snack ideas your family will enjoy.