My morning conversations with my kids usually go something like this:
Me: “Boys, did you eat?”
Boys: “Yes. We had cereal.”
Me: “Did you have fruit?”
Boys: “Yes, we had milk.”
Me: “Milk is not a fruit!” (then I find a quiet corner of my house and bang my head against the wall!)
The facts: 1) My children know that milk is good for them. 2) They know that fruit is good for them. 3) They know they’re supposed to be having more of both.
The disconnect: They believe if they have one or the other, it somehow counts in both categories.
It does not!
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of Americans aren’t getting their daily recommended servings of fruit and vegetables – children and adults, alike. And I fight this battle with my children every day.
Here are some little tricks that I use to sneak these immune-boosting goodies into my kids’ growing bodies:
- Thicken soup base with pureed cauliflower, potatoes and beans. (Yes, beans are actually considered a vegetable.) My kids love soup, as long as it includes noodles of some sort and it doesn’t have anything green floating in it. So this little trick works nicely in my house.
- Top chicken or fish with roasted veggies. A roasted veggie is delish. When cooked at a high temp, it caramelizes and gets almost sweet. Now, puree it, add some salt, maybe a splash of water and call it sauce. Don’t call it a vegetable in front of your kids and they’ll likely be fooled. Works for me!
- Mix like colors. Mash cooked cauliflower (yes, I’m back to cauliflower) in with your potatoes and you’ve got not only a healthy mashed potato dish, but a tasty one, too! My kids LOVE this side. In the same spirit, blend some cooked carrots in with your marinara sauce. They’ll have no idea they’re getting an extra dose of antioxidants!
- Smoothie, baby! In our house, it’s all about the Strawberry Sunrise Smoothie. Blend half a banana, a handful of frozen strawberries (which I keep in my freezer at all times) and some orange juice (with calcium, of course). Three fruits in one sweet frozen drink. What could be better?
- Have some frozen fun. There are a few things you can do here. Fill a popsicle mold with a pureed version of your kids’ favorite fruit. Or (and this is my personal favorite) make a frosty custard with frozen bananas, a few spoonfuls of reduced fat yogurt and a splash of vanilla extract. Top with whipped cream. YUM!
Sneaky tricks aside, I will continue to beat myself silly trying to encourage my kids to proactively eat more fruit and veggies. I want them not only to benefit from a healthy body, but also to understand what constitutes a healthy diet. But until that happens, I will continue to sneak it in — for as long as it takes!