Kids tend to get inundated with the temptations of junk food nearly everywhere they go – in school lunch lines and vending machines, at home during television commercials, and maybe even at special events and parties. It can be tough to make your little one happy during meal time when you’re serving real, fresh foods like salad, whole grain pasta with veggies, or steamed greens and grains.
Blending veggies into pasta sauce or baking fruits into homemade pies is an easy way to increase your child’s produce intake, but it doesn’t teach them much about the importance of adopting a healthy diet full of real, fresh foods. With the right communication, education, and experimentation put into place, your little one is sure to fall in love with healthy whole foods and make better nutritional choices as they grow older.
Here are a few surefire ways to get the young ones in your life to enjoy choosing fresh fruits and veggies:
Try New Shapes and Designs
Kids love to experiment and explore, so serving food that’s presented in colorful shapes, sizes, and designs is sure to spark their imagination and get them interested in fresh foods. There are several ways to create new meal presentations for your little ones such as:
- Slice fresh foods like pineapple, apples, sweet potatoes, and jicama and then use cookie cutters to make fun shapes.
- Blend greens with dates and blueberries and then freeze the concoction to make deep blue frozen treats to enjoy.
- Use veggies like carrots, asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower along with toothpicks to make animals, small houses, and landscapes to eat.
Serve these fun foods with plenty of dipping sauces made of nuts and seeds for an added punch of mineral intake during meal time.
Replace Unhealthy Staples Slowly
It can take time for kids to warm up to healthy foods if they’re used to eating unhealthy staples like refined pasta, canned or frozen meals, and sugary snacks. Introducing new nutrition-packed foods at meal time slowly will ensure that your child doesn’t get overwhelmed. If you offer a plate full of new foods that doesn’t go over well, it’s hard to determine what exactly is not appreciated – featuring just one new food at meal time provides the ability to determine what your child truly does and doesn’t like.
Talk About the Benefits of Real Food
A great way to get kids excited about eating real, fresh food is to talk to them about all the benefits of doing so. When it is understood where food comes from and what it has to offer once consumed, children naturally want to make the most healthful and compassionate choices on their own. Knowing that what they’re eating is actually good for them make them feel proud about their choices and gives them a positive frame of mind to work from when they try new foods.
Incorporate Meal Prep Time Together
Making meals together in the kitchen is a fabulous way to spark creativity and to give your child some control over what and how they eat. And kids that learn to prepare food at an early age are apt to make healthful food choices as they grow up and start their adult lives. Have a couple of options available on the counter when you’re preparing food for your little one, so they can pick and choose what they’d like to prepare, making it more likely that they will enjoy their meal when it’s time to sit down and eat.
Be Open and Available for Lots of Questions
Once your child starts learning about the exciting world of real, fresh food, you can expect to be bombarded with plenty of questions about everything from color and texture profiles, to food origins and nutrient break-downs. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have all the answers! Head to the library and borrow books about gardening and food histories or rent a few movies that explore the growth and nutrition of different foods. Attend fruit festivals, farmer’s markets, and wild flower patches in your community. Start a small garden in the kitchen or yard so your child can learn hands-on. All of these things will provide a well rounded education that will help to plant the seeds of healthy eating.
By implementing these tips and tricks into your household, you might even learn a thing or two about the healthy foods your household is eating. And the entire family is likely to find fresh, whole foods more enjoyable and rewarding overall.
See all of our kid-friendly recipes here.
Lead Image Source: USDA Department of Agriculture/Flickr