Do you wish your family would eat more fruits and vegetables? Like most people, you probably already know that fruits and veggies are important sources of essential vitamins and minerals. They are high in fiber and low in fat and calories. Eating these foods helps reduce the risk of certain diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Sometimes, however, the facts simply aren't enough, and, in order to get your family to eat more fruits and vegetables, you have to get creative. Try some of our tips below...
- Evaluate the meals you serve on a regular basis and think of ways to add more fruits and vegetables. Are you ordering pizza? Could you make your own pizza using more vegetables? Or add some extras before serving? Try steamed broccoli, roasted red peppers, onions, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, etc.
- Involve everyone in meal planning. Ask each person to come up with ideas for healthful meals while you are working on a shopping list. Make sure they are including vegetables with their meals and see if they can think of ways to fix fruit for dessert. Remind them of MyPlate's advice if they get stuck.
- Put different family members in charge of meal planning on different days of the week. Assess all plans before approving them, of course, and see if you can find ways to have each family member get more involved in the actual preparation of the meal they've selected.
- Visit a farmer's market and encourage each family member to pick a favorite fruit and vegetable. Everyone can help prepare their favorite fruit or vegetable during the week. If possible, you can also make an outing to a "U-Pick 'Em" farm.
- Grow a vegetable garden. If you can't have a garden in the ground, settle for a small pot of herbs or lettuce.
- Turn off the TV and get in the kitchen. Have everyone prepare fruits and vegetables to serve as snacks or the next day's meal - imagine having breakfast already made when you wake up!
- Purchase cookbooks that show easy ways to prepare fruits and vegetables. Make testing recipes a family project.
- Highlight a fruit or vegetable for the week. How many different ways can you prepare it? Especially versatile foods include sweet potatoes, strawberries, broccoli, and apples.
- Instead of serving ice cream for dessert, have everyone make smoothies. Set out several types of sliced fruit (fresh or frozen, but make sure there is no added sugar), nonfat milk or yogurt, and 100% fruit juice. Then have everyone mix and match to make their own smoothie creations.
- Take family members shopping with you. Have them pick 5 snacks for the week from the produce aisle. Help them choose items they like and share ideas on ways to eat them. For example, baby carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and celery can be served with low-fat dressing, apples can be sliced and served with peanut butter, bananas and sprinkles can top light yogurt, oranges can be peeled and sectioned, sweet potatoes can be baked and topped with syrup, etc.
- Make a contest. Have family members keep a food journal for the week. Whoever eats the most fruits and vegetables wins. Prizes can be cooking-oriented (like a fun new set of measuring cups or a neat kitchen gadget) or chore-oriented (ie whoever wins doesn't have to do dishes for a whole week, etc).
Looking for more ways to have fun with fruits and veggies? Check out our store or some of the neat products featured below...
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.