Eat More Fruits and Vegetables – Get Everyone Involved!

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Do you wish your family would eat more fruits and vegetables? Like most people, you probably already know they are important sources of essential vitamins and minerals and that they are high in fiber and low in fat and calories. Eating them helps lower the risk of certain diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Here are some fun ideas to motivate the ones you love to 5 a day and better health:

• 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 on top before serving it? Try steamed broccoli, roasted red peppers, onions, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, etc.
• Involve everyone in meal planning. Ask them to come up with ideas for healthy meals when 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.
• Assign certain days of the week to family members to put them in charge of planning and helping with the meal. Make sure they help make a fruit or vegetable dish. Including them in meal planning and preparation helps them become more aware of what is involved. They are more likely to eat foods they have helped prepare.
• 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, make an outing to a U-Pick 'Em farm.
• Make 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. Spend time on the Internet to learn about fruits and vegetables and find healthy recipes - this can be a great family project. For great family links, see www.foodandhealth.com - click on Food Links.
• Highlight a fruit or vegetable for the week. How many different ways can you prepare it?
• Have children make a list of the fruits and vegetables they ate for the day. Can they think of ways to work more of them in for next time?
• Instead of serving ice cream for dessert, have everyone make a fun smoothie for dessert. Allow them to choose between several types of fruit, skim milk and 100% fruit juice.
• 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 lowfat Ranch dressing; apples can be sliced and served with peanut butter; bananas and sprinkles can go on top of light yogurt, oranges can be peeled and sectioned; sweet potatoes can be baked and topped with syrup.
• Make it a goal to include a fruit or vegetable with every meal.
• Make fun and new ways to serve fruit for dessert. See the recipes on this page for ideas or go to www.foodandhealth.com and click on Recipes. See our fruit recipes for even more ideas.
• If you choose to go out to dinner, go to a place that serves healthier items. A restaurant with a salad bar is always a good choice.
• Make a contest. Have family members keep a food journal for the week. Whoever eats the most fruits and vegetables wins. Prizes can be monetary or chore oriented (ie whoever wins doesn't have to do dishes for a whole week!)

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