Kitchen VIPP

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Here is one trick we are using at home: Kitchen VIPP

V = VARIETY! Each night when I prepare dinner, I serve a “buffet” in the kitchen. It usually consists of a healthy vegetarian entree like beans and rice, lentils and rice, or pasta along with a big salad, bowls of fruit and seasonal vegetables. In other words, a variety of healthful dishes left out for people to choose. Let the all you can eat buffet work for you to get them eating more healthful stuff at home! If you have made a lot, that is great - leftovers can get frozen for another night or used for lunch the next day. My son picks and chooses what to put on his plate with me always encouraging him to try something new. The fruit even gets moved to the dinner table because if it is in front of him, he eats it.

I = INVENT! Invent new dishes and new ways to garnish and serve old favorites. One night we had a large salad and I added a sprinkle of chopped parsley, mint and feta cheese to give it a Mediterranean flair. Fat-free cornbread got a drizzle of honey. Lentils and rice were topped with caramelized onions. Fresh pasta got the addition of sweet peas and grated Parmesan cheese. Salad got a sprinkle of fresh grated carrots and ginger for an Asian flair. Apples were wedged and baked in the microwave with apple pie spice. Carrots are purchased in different shapes from baby to medallion. You get the idea - invent something new and fun for your family to try.

P = PRESENTATION! The cabinets in my kitchen are filled with a variety of neat glasses, bowls, plates, platters and cups because I use them for photographs. I have found that when I serve things in neat serving dishes, they get eaten more readily. Grapes on a bright-colored square plate, spiced winter squash in neat little individual cups, salad served on a huge flat platter, fruit in a stemmed glass, pasta in a brownie pan, rice from a saute pan, etc. This is especially true when you make a buffet in your kitchen.

P = PREPARE! I always have bowls of fruit including diced melon, grapes, papaya cubes, sliced berries and salad in the refrigerator. There is always something good to eat and this is easy when you come home from the store.

Here are more ideas from our fruit and vegetable presentation survey:

• I ask my clients who like to snack on cookies and junk to change that that they have to snack on a couple fewer cookies held in one hand AFTER they eat their favorite fruit that is in the other.

• I offer kids toys in the shape of fruits and vegetables for them to play here in my office

*I tell parents to cut fruits and vegetables in attractive small shapes, can use cookie cutters

• Keep a variety of frozen vegetables on hand so that if you don't have fresh and least you have some Eat vegetables at lunch AND at dinner so you can get in enough Use a little fat to make them taste better - A tablespoon of trans free light spread - like Brummel and Brown adds only 5 grams fat to enough vegetables to feed a family.

• In Louisiana SNAP we adopted a single Message: "Eat Vegetables, Move More" as a repeated message for Community Nutrition

• With families I like to talk to them about involving the kids in meal planning and that part of what the kids are in charge of is choosing a fruit or vegetable to have with the meal.

• Dress-up recipes for veggies in our hospital dining room and for patients-get away from just steamed veggies all the time. We create a big variety of salad recipes for fruits and vegetables. A big bowl of fruit is out for staff snack purchases all day.

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