Easy Five-a-Day Strategies

It’s tough for parents to make sure their children get all the nutrients they need. This is particularly true if you’re the parent of a picky eater. Picky eaters rarely like fruits and vegetables. Here are five tips and ideas to help you get more fruits and veggies into your child’s body.

#1 Smoothies – Children love smoothies and milk shakes. You can add fruits and even vegetables to a child’s smoothie without them knowing they’re drinking their fruits and vegetables. Bananas, berries, carrots and even apples and celery can be added. You can also add leafy greens like spinach but the green color of the smoothie will be a dead giveaway. You may want to introduce leafy greens later when your child is accustomed to smoothies.

#2 Snacks – It’s amazing what happens when you place a tray of vegetables and dip on the table during snack time. When children don’t have to eat their vegetables they’re more likely to enjoy them. A low-pressure snack with celery, carrots, cucumbers and other child-friendly vegetables is a great way to get a few more vegetables into their diet. Good dips to consider include ranch dip and hummus. You can also switch it up with an occasional fruit and cheese tray.

#3 Purees – Okay, it’s sneaky but it works. You can add vegetable purees to just about anything. You can add them to spaghetti, muffins, brownies and even taco meat. Squash makes a great puree but so, too, do vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and even beans.

#4 Serve two vegetables at mealtime – One great way to get more vegetables into your child?s diet is to serve two vegetables at mealtime. Serve a cooked vegetable and a salad, for example. If you’re also being sneaky and placing purees in your food, then your child may be getting three servings of vegetables at dinner time.

#5 Serve salsas, sauces, relishes and dips – Any sauce or dip that’s made from a vegetable helps you get more veggies into your child’s diet. Serve salsas and sauces at mealtime when appropriate. For example, salsa with scrambled eggs or hummus with celery stalks. Even apples and peanut butter can get a serving of fruit into your child.

With a little planning ahead, a bit of sneakiness and a commitment to five a day, you can get more fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet. It’s important to take a relaxed approach to eating. If you force a child to eat veggies, they’re likely to resist. Instead, ask them to try their fruit and veggies.

Children have different taste buds than adults. It may take a few “tastes” for them to learn to like a fruit or vegetable. Of course, don’t reward them with dessert if they don’t eat their vegetables, but forcing it may result in a backlash. Provide your child with plenty of opportunities to eat fruits and vegetables and they will develop healthy eating habits.