10 Tips for Getting Children to Eat Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

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10 Tips for Getting Children to Eat Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Eating fresh local fruits and vegetables is an essential part to anyone’s healthy diet, however, if you have children or grandchildren you know getting them to eat any fruit or vegetable can be quite the feat. Children who are introduced to fruits and vegetables at a young age are more likely to enjoy them throughout their lifetime. The Produce Lady offers 10 tips to help you introduce healthy, fresh produce to young palates.

1)  Parents are a key ingredient in getting children to appreciate the vibrant colors, sweet smells and fantastic flavors of fruits and vegetables. If parents consume and enjoy fresh produce, chances are their children will too. Leading by example is very important.

2)  Grow a garden and let the children get their hands dirty. Spotting that first baby squash or watching a watermelon grow from the size of a ping-pong ball to the size of a bowling ball will amaze and intrigue young minds. It will help them to appreciate fresh produce, and studies have shown that children are more likely to eat what they grow! If you’re tight on space you can have a container garden, contact your local Agriculture or Small Farms Agent for more information on container gardening.

3)  Make a visit to your local farmers market a fun family outing. You’ll find the best, local produce, and you can introduce your children to the farmers who grow their food. Take along the Farmers Market Treasure Hunt activity sheet that you can find at theproducelady.org. Making finding fruits and vegetables fun can intrigue children to want to try the new foods they have found.

4)  Eat seasonally. The flavor of in-season strawberries or tomatoes, for example, can’t be beat! It also helps children build connections with healthy foods, like a sweet, juicy slice of watermelon on a hot summer day!

5)  Incorporate fruits and veggies into dishes your children enjoy. Mix fruit pieces in with yogurt or make fruit smoothies. Add chopped fruit, especially berries and bananas, to your child’s cereal. Vegetables are usually the toughest sale. Try mixing in chopped veggies with pasta sauces, lasagna, casseroles, chili, omelets and other common dishes or add them as toppings for pizza. And for dessert: a piece of fruit or chocolate zucchini cake!

6)  Encourage your children to be part of the prep process as you prepare dishes that include fresh fruits and vegetables. From washing to peeling or even grating or dicing (with proper adult supervision), children will be eager to taste the dishes they helped prepare. You might even do a sampling as you go to taste the difference between raw and cooked fruits and veggies.

7)  Choose healthy, but easy-to-prepare snacks. Snacks that have a seasonal or holiday theme are always a hit with kids. Fourth of July fruit sizzlers, “Mummy Bones” and fresh fruit pops are simple, seasonal snacks that you can find in the recipe section at theproducelady.org.

8)  Keep fresh fruit handy. Whether it’s an apple in the fridge or a fresh fruit pop in the freezer, if it’s easy to access, it will be easy to eat. Make fresh fruit pops in season by skewering fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, peaches or blueberries to make a kebab. Put the pops in the freezer just long enough to develop a frost and they’re good to go. Simple, short and sweet!

9)  Grilling can bring out more complex flavors in fruits and veggies. Try grilling corn-on-the-cob, tomatoes and even peaches this summer.

10)  Be persistent. As the old adage goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Research suggests it can take more than seven exposures to a food before it’s accepted. A child may reject a food because it’s different, without really considering the taste. Be creative and explore new ways to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s never too early to introduce wonderful, fresh produce into your children’s diets.

-Article and recipe taken from The Produce Lady at www.theproducelady.org.

Written By

Photo of Stephanie Parker-HelmkampStephanie Parker-HelmkampCounty Extension Director (252) 358-7822 stephanie_m_parker@ncsu.eduHertford County, North Carolina
Posted on Feb 5, 2015
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