We all know that we should aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. But let’s be honest, it’s easier said than done. When faced with the temptation of convenience foods and snacks, it can be a challenge to get those essential nutrients into our family’s diets. If your family is anything like mine, they may prefer chips or pasta over an apple or a plate of broccoli. So, let’s get creative and find ways to “sneak” more fruits and vegetables into their meals. Here are ten clever ideas to help you achieve that goal:
1. Start the day with a breakfast smoothie: Blend some fruits, low-fat yogurt, and ice in a blender. You can even add a scoop of protein powder for an extra nutritional boost. Sip on it during your morning commute, or surprise your kids with a breakfast smoothie that tastes like ice cream – they won’t believe it’s a healthy start to the day.
2. Embrace dried fruits as snacks: Include small containers of raisins in your child’s lunchbox, pack yogurt-covered raisins for your husband’s snack, and keep trail mix on hand for convenient munching. You can also sprinkle dried fruits on oatmeal or cereal for a sweet twist.
3. Elevate sandwiches with fruits and vegetables: Jazz up peanut butter sandwiches with banana slices, apple slices, or strawberry slices. Add lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and any other veggies your family enjoys to turkey sandwiches. Get creative by making a vegetable-packed sub sandwich with mayo and cheese.
4. Host a family salad bar: Set out a variety of chopped vegetables, cheese, croutons, and multiple salad dressings alongside the lettuce. Let each family member create their own custom salad at dinner time.
5. Encourage fruit and vegetable juices: Keep a selection of fruit and vegetable juices in the fridge for snacking. Create a “family cocktail hour” by pouring everyone a glass of their favorite juice over ice. Add fun straws and cocktail umbrellas to make it a special occasion.
6. Transform dessert: Serve a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt topped with fresh or frozen fruit for a delicious dessert option that’s healthier and satisfying.
7. Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks: Provide apple slices with peanut butter or cheese, cubes of cheese paired with grapes, or fresh veggies with ranch dip. Don’t forget the classic “ants on a log” – celery sticks filled with cream cheese or peanut butter and topped with raisins.
8. Explore exotic fruits and veggies: Introduce your family to new and exciting produce options. Experiment with artichokes, plantains, papaya, mango, star fruit, or any unique items you find at your local store.
9. Cook up hearty vegetable soups and stews: Warm and comforting, these dishes are perfect for cold weather and can be packed with a variety of veggies, reducing the need for excessive meat.
10. Initiate “My Veggie Day”: Allow each family member to choose a vegetable one day a week. To qualify, they must have tried all the vegetables from the previous week. If they haven’t, they forfeit their turn, and Mom gets to pick.
Incorporate a few of these strategies, and you’ll have your family eating more fruits and vegetables in no time.
Bonus Tip: Keep fresh fruits and veggies readily available and easy to snack on. When healthy options are within reach, your family is more likely to grab them.