by Laura Barns
Encouraging your little ones to eat their 5 a day is not without its challenges. Whilst it’d be great if they shared our appreciation for sprouts (they’re delicious, right?!) most little treasures...don’t.
If you’re tired of resorting to bribery, there are a few other tricks up our sleeves for getting children to eat their fruit and vegetables. Have a read below, and give it a go.
They might become more interested in eating fruit and vegetables if they can feel like part of the house foodie team. Encourage them to help you prepare simple things in the kitchen, or ask them to choose a fruit or veg to include in your weekly shop. This will help them feel like they’ve got a bit of control over what they’re eating, too, which can sometimes be part of the problem.
Sometimes, you’ll have tried absolutely everything and nothing will work. So don’t be afraid to get a little creative (and crafty). Make your own pasta sauces, soups and stews loaded with veggies to sneak their daily quota into their favourite dishes. (We swear by this vegan Homemade Gnocchi w/ Creamy Tomato Red Pepper Sauce recipe). For fruits, try blending a few favourites together to create a hearty smoothie, or whizz up some in natural, vegan yoghurt (we love the Coconut Collaborative).
We all love snacking on sweet stuff from time to time, especially little ones. Restricting sugary treats to a few times a week, and swapping others for fruit, carrot batons and hummus etc. can make a huge difference. Think ‘little snacks for little hands’ as a good rule, too – raisins, blueberries and cut-up grapes are all winners. Looking for a fancy (and very tasty) sweet, refreshing treat? Check out our recipe for vegan ice lollies – the perfect, healthy summer snack idea.
This might sound like overkill, but it doesn’t mean you need to add a whole head of cabbage or apple to everything. It can be a good idea to start getting a habit into their heads, by simply adding a few slices of banana to their morning porridge, or adding some spinach to their lunch sandwich. This will not only get them eating more of the good stuff but will also help them start to see it as the norm.
This might go against everything you’ve ever taught them, but revisiting some old rules can go a long way here. If you have the time (and zero guilt if you don’t!) try cutting their fruit and veggies into fun shapes. Or, you could even let them get involved in the arty, fun side of food. We love these rice cake animals which can easily be adapted with your little ones’ favourite fruits and veggies.
It’s never too early to start getting your kids to eat more fruit and vegetables. From baby-lead weaning, to setting (and sticking to) food routines as soon as they can eat at the table, starting those good habits early on will be really beneficial. Aim to eat main meals together at the table as a family, so that they get used to the routine of eating well, but also so they can see other family members also tucking into their greens.