Recently, Registered Dietitian Ruth Frechman offered some great healthy eating tips for kids in her post "National Nutrition Month" - The Theme is "Eat Right". I thought I would follow that up with some more kid friendly tips for parents to help them pack more fruits and veggies in their diets.
- First ask your kids what their favorite fruits and vegetables are and how they like them prepared
- Then take your kids grocery shopping with you and have them pick out new fresh, canned or frozen fruit and veggies to try out
- Make mealtime fun-let your kids help you prepare fruits and veggies at home-they can tear up broccoli, wash vegetables, toss salad etc.
- Kids like to have control. Put out small bowls of raisins, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, crunchy noodles, chopped fruit etc. and let them make their own salads
- Pick a dressing they will like-they tend to go more towards the sweeter ones like honey mustard, rather than a vinaigrette
- They can make their own wraps or tacos too, loaded with beans, tomatoes, corn, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes and so on
- Stuff a baked potato with salsa and guacamole
- Serve chopped veggies (like baby carrots, celery stalks, Jicama sticks, asparagus spears, broccoli and cauliflower florets) with salsa, low fat ranch dressing, flavored hummus, peanut butter, or guacamole
- Dish up boiled edamame in their shell as a snack (soy beans in the pod-they’re such a fun food)
- Add pureed or finely chopped veggies to soups, sauces and casseroles
- Start the day with a fresh fruit smoothie by blending ½ banana, ½ cup frozen strawberries, ½ cup 1% milk and ½ cup 100% fruit juice
- Have your kids make ants on a log for a snack-spread peanut butter onto celery stalks and top with raisins
For our kids we should shoot for at least 1 ½ cups fruit and 2 cups vegetables every day. An apple, orange, pear and medium banana all count as a cup. For some of the smaller fruit, about 8 strawberries, 3 small plums and 32 grapes make a cup. Note: ½ cup of dried fruit counts as 1 cup. 100% fruit juice counts too but limit juice to 6-8 ounces a day. Juice is high in calories and is easy to over consume.
As for veggies, a medium potato (of course having them as French fries negates their benefit, and eating the skin is key to get the maximum nutrition), about 12 baby carrots, 2 large celery stalks and 2 cups salad greens are equivalent to 1 cup. Beans and peas count as veggies too! Think of corn not as a vegetable but as a whole grain.
Have a fruit and veggie filled week!