By Chef Chrissy Marie of Fruvey Kids
“I DON’T LIKE IT,” echo’s through homes of many families around dinner time—but, I’m here to tell you, getting kids to eat more veggies doesn’t have to be a fight. Researchers have found many creative ways to introduce and serve fruits and vegetables to your pickiest eaters.
Make it Fun!
Assign your child to be the fruit and veggie-picker. Let them choose what’s being served. Pick a day of the week and do an experimental snack time. Cut up some fruit your child likes and put out different dips like hummus or a mix a hidden ingredient into Nutella; then let them taste test. The best culinary creations come from unusual flavors. Watch cooking shows with your child to spark inspiration.
First in Sight
Try serving veggies first, or put your fresh veggies and fruits in the fridge where your child can easily see them (and keep the sweets out of sight). There’s nothing wrong with desserts, but there has to be a balance. Offer fruit for dessert on some nights, too. If you can make it tougher for them to make the wrong food choices, it will be a little easier for them to make the right ones.
As a mom, I enjoy taking my kids grocery shopping. My children tend to surprise me with the things they would like—things I would never in my wildest dreams think to pick up for them. My oldest son once grabbed roasted seaweed then my middle son tried it, and loved it! Turns out, they had tried it at school with friends. Now, it’s become an item that I will grab for them when they are not shopping with me. Also, read the labels to your child while you are at the store. Explain why you are picking certain things so they can learn organically how to make choices for themselves food-wise. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are great stores to try out, because even in the cereal aisle you can easily find fun, healthy choices.
The More Hands the Better
Having your child set the table or allowing him to mix up ingredients, gives him ownership of it. Your child is more likely to eat, or at least try what he prepared. If your child loves cooking, make it accessible to them. Allow him to play with pots and pans in the kitchen or buy a set of safe culinary tools. (I like the selection at www.Curious Chef.com.)
Never Force a Child to Finish
The same goes for making him eat a food he is just not interested in—it can have adverse effect. Forcing your child to eat can cause different eating disorders and they could learn to ignore the signs our body naturally gives us when we’re full. Instead, offer them a different healthy option. If they are just “not feeling it” at the moment , no sweat. Revisit it at a later time or save it for tomorrow’s meal. Always make your child feel like they have a choice when it comes to eating, this way they can build healthier relations when it comes to food choices.
When All Else Fails, Hide Them
Author, Missy Chase Lapine, gives a lot of detail and recipes in “The Sneaky Chef” in regard to ways you can hide fruits and veggies in your child’s meals and snacks. Let’s face it—typically a child’s favorite meals aren’t all that healthy. So, if you can combine what they love with hidden vegetables, fruits and even beans—without them even noticing—it’s a win-win. “The Sneaky Chef” is a golden treasure in my kitchen. Sometimes, I also like to put the hidden ingredient on their plate in whole form. Of course, I expect them to skip over it, but try to imply the just take one bite rule. Meaning, all they have to do is taste it, if they don’t like it, no problem. (I already have it hidden.) The goal is to get them to experiment with new foods. After a couple of times of doing this, you may find their tastes are changing, in your favor.
Remember Kids Eat What They’re Given
They also see what others eat, mainly you! Trust me, what you eat peaks their interest more than you know. Continuously remind your child that everything they eat fuels them to be strong and smart and healthy.
And, always remember… healthy eating habits start with you. SP
Chef Chrissy Marie, owner of Fruvey Kids learned the art of French cuisine in culinary school, but her passion for bringing people together around the dinner table began at a young age. Her diverse cultural roots have shaped her cuisine into a dynamic fusion of Caribbean, Southern, and French flavors, centered around the importance of sharing relationships through food. She is on a mission to fight childhood obesity and reshape the way kids approach vegetables and fruits as a whole. Visit FruveyKids.com to learn more.