The USDA recommends that children from two to three years old consume one cup of fruits and one cup of veggies each day, and boost those serving sizes up to one-and-a-half cups once the child turns four years old. Recommended serving sizes keep going up with age. Use fruits and vegetables as “anytime” snacks.
Kids, though, just aren’t eating them. According to the USDA, the most popular produce item, which accounts for one-third of total veggie intake, is potatoes… fried…French style. With all of the fun, colorful, and sugary foods floating around these days, it’s not easy to get kids to love spinach. Fortunately, Susan McQuillan, M.S., R.D., author of the Sesame Street book “C is for Cooking”, has some tips:
If your child doesn’t like fruits or vegetables in one form, then try another. Raw carrots, not a big hit? Try them cooked, shredded, coin-cut, baby, or mashed.
2. Change Sizes
Don’t assume your child will stray away from one fruit or veggie because of size or other traits. Too big a piece of food can seem overwhelming for some children, while others will pick up a whole tomato and bite into it like an apple.
3. Kids Reign
Before choosing how much produce to pack on your child’s plate, serve fruits and veggies family style in a big bowl and let them help themselves.
4. Dip It
Cut raw veggies into sticks and serve with some healthy dipping sauce. Just add a dash of ranch dressing to plain yogurt and you just made yourself a kid-friendly healthy dip.
5. Turn Off the Pressure Cooker
Keep it fun and talk about fruits and vegetables in a positive way around children. Try to arrange food artfully, with lots of different colors on the plate. You can even make shapes and faces out of food to make it more enjoyable for kids to indulge.
6. Get Leafy
Taco night anyone? Serve taco ingredients and ditch the corn tortilla shells for a healthier alternative…romaine lettuce leaves.
7. The Secret Ingredient
Puree or mash veggies, like cooked cauliflower, and stir them into some mashed potatoes.
8. Ice Ice, Baby
Invest in some ice-pop molds and let your kiddie fill them up with yogurt and fresh fruits.
9. Sunshine Salad
Add some shredded carrots or berries to orange Jello mix before refrigerating.
10. Green Monster Drinks
Smoothies and juices are a tasty way to make sure kids are getting their fruit and vegetable servings. When you make a juice or smoothie, the sweet flavors of the fruit will actually overpower the flavors of spinach or kale.
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