Introduce Fruits and Veggies to Kids in the Summer
If you have a kid of any age, you no doubt worry about their diet. After all, they could always eat more fruits and veggies. But it can be hard to convince your beige food loving child to explore the world of color that the plant world has to offer. So what can you do to help your little one expand their culinary horizons? Turns out there are quite a few things you can do and summer may be the best time to start.
Why start in the summer you ask? For starters, you children are likely to be spending more time at home and it would be easier to introduce them to new foods during family meals. Also, summer produces some of the most vibrantly colored fruits and veggies and may peak your child’s interest more. Some of the local in season fruits and veggies include: corn, bell peppers, zucchini, radishes, beets, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, strawberries and blackberries. It’s a rainbow on a plate.
Here are my 5 favorite ways to get my child to eat fruits and veggies.
1.Go to a Farmer’s Market and Try Fruits and Veggies Together
One of the best ways to be able to convince your child to try a fruit or vegetable is for them to pick it out. So start going to a farmer’s market on weekends with your child. Peruse the aisles and talk about the bounty you see. Talk to the farmers about their product and see if they will let your child have a taste. You’d be surprised how much more willing your kid will be to take food from the farmer who grew it. Ask your child to pick out at least one type of vegetable and one type of fruit for the family to eat. Not only will this make your child more involved in the process but it will also make them feel responsible and grown up. And what kid wouldn’t want that?
2. Go to U-Pick Farms
Need a fun summertime activity? Make it a family day at a u-pick farm. They are so much fun and a great way for your child to see how food grows. I remember picking tomatoes when I was a little kid and I loved it so much. More tomatoes ended up in my mouth than in my basket of course. I still treasure these memories 3 decades later. I can think of no better way for my sons to experience the food than to actually feel it with their hands as they are pulling it off the stem. And of course, sneak a few bites in right in the patch.
If you don’t know about the farms in your area, here is a website for the whole U.S. Just click your state and proceed to narrow it down to your area.
3. Start Your Own Garden of Different Fruits and Veggies
Another great way to have your kid be more interested and invested in trying fruits and vegetables is to grow them. If your kid is fully engrossed in the process of planting, caring for, and sowing his fruits and vegetables, he is also more likely to actually eat it once it’s picked.
If you have outdoor space, grow some simple fruits and veggies in the garden. If you don’t have outside space, there are plenty of fruits and veggies that can be grown inside in pots. Either way, your child will be involved in the process and thus more likely to eat the fruits of his labor.
4. Allow your child to participate in food prep
I have to be honest, it is so much easier to not have my 3.5 year old “help” with the cooking. Like, 100 times easier. But when he does help in making a dish, he is more likely to not only try it but to eat it as well. He has a lot of fun mixing and throwing things in the bowl. We haven’t worked on cutting skills yet but those are to come.
He also participates in preparing his lunch for pre-school and usually eats everything he chooses to put in there. Today’s lunch included homemade ricotta pancakes, apricots, strawberries, nuts and Bamba puffs from Trader Joe’s.
There’s been some research done about kids picking healthier foods if they are involved in the prep. Isn’t that exciting? Our kids willingly forgoing chicken nuggets in favor of a fresh ripe tomato.
And let’s not forget that knowing how to cook will serve your kids well in life. Being able to make healthy, homemade food will allow your kids to provide the right fuel for their bodies and to be the healthiest they can be. It will also help them learn other skills. Click here to find out about the benefits of cooking for kids.
And if you’re looking for some easy almost no-cook recipes that include fruits and veggies, check out 5 Easy Nutritious Foods for Toddlers.
5. Start with fruit and move to veggies
Sometimes no amount of participating in food prep or picking vegetables out can convince your child to actually try the veggie. If they are mostly used to processed food, vegetables often don’t taste great. Their texture is different, they lack the sugar and can even taste bitter. If your child is like that, don’t despair, start the introduction with fruit. It may go smoother and then you can introduce vegetables that are closer tasting to fruit like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, beets, and then move on to more neutral veggies like zucchini, potatoes and cauliflower.
And, please, don’t fall for the hype that the sugar in fruit is bad for your kids. It’s not!!!! You can’t eat enough fruit to get the amount of sugar that would be bad. If you want to learn more about sugar in fruit click here.
6. Make fruits and veggies fun
Summer is all about fun and relaxing, right? So don’t make eating fruits and veggies into a chore. Instead make it a fun experience they’ll remember. For example, why not grill up some fruits and veggies for lunch or dinner. And then eat outside. Different atmosphere that may make your child more inclined to eat.
Have picnics in the park and pack fruit and veggies that are easy to eat. For example: make some tomato mozzarella skewers, melon and cheese skewers, strawberry and blueberry bowl, baked sweet potato or zucchini fries. If you go to the beach, pack lots of fruits and veggies with you. Nothing gets a child more hungry than hanging out at the beach.
Also, leverage other people in your life to help you introduce new foods to your child. Have a family member offer them the food. I know my son eats certain veggies at his grandparents’ house and other veggies at our house. So don’t be afraid to use anyone and everyone to help get your child onboard with the fresh produce you want them to eat.
Let the summer fruit and vegetable eating begin!!!!!