Sunday, 10 December 2006

How To Get Children To Eat Their Vegetables

WE all know by now how important it is for us all, but especially children, to eat their “five a day” vegetables and fruit. But what can poor parents do if their kids absolutely refuse to eat up their greens?

Get crafty. That’s what.

Here’s a few ideas to add fruit and veg to their diet – and they will hardly know they’re eating the dreaded spinach or broccoli!

  • Make vegetable soup, and then add some fun pasta or noodle shapes. You can use alphabet noodles or look for some fun novelty shapes.

  • Pour some vegetable juice over ice and add a straw, a cocktail umbrella or a stick of celery. Float a few slivers of vegetables on the top like cucumber and carrot.

  • Make some dips to have with raw veggies like carrot sticks, peppers and cucumber. Or dip with vegetable ‘chips’ (see below).

  • Make vegetable ‘chips’ by thinly slicing root vegetables like parsnips, carrots and swedes, spraying with olive oil and baking in the oven.

  • Hold an art session and let them create a ‘masterpiece’ out of vegetables. They can make a picture or a pretty pattern. Then eat the results!

  • Let them help themselves at the ‘salad bar’. Turn your kitchen into a self-serve restaurant with lots of little bowls of different vegetable or fruit-based dishes. Rice salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, dips, mixed peppers with a creamy dressing, grated vegetables like carrot and cucumber would all be suitable. The secret, I’ve found, is to have lots of small dishes and lots of variety. It seems to be the great pile of cabbage on the plate that puts them off.

  • Children don’t seem to know that the 70s are over and still love cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks (or any mixture, as long as it’s on a cocktail stick!) and fondues.

  • Make a pizza with lots of vegetables on top – or doctor a ready-made one by adding more vegetables.

  • Encourage them to help with cooking and preparing meals. They’ll eat practically anything if they’ve made it themselves!

  • If none of this works, be devious and hide the vegetables in other food. Try orange mashed potatoes – not fruity but coloured orange by mashing carrots into it. Include fruit in your baking. Make your own tomato sauce for pasta. Chop up fresh fruit very finely and mix it with yogurt or desserts. Stuff cabbage leaves with something they love.

Be inventive and they will soon be eating up their “five a day”.

  • Take a look at some lovely kitchens, handmade in the heart of rural DevonHERE

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