Special to The Observer
How many servings of fruits and vegetables is your child required to have each day? According to Health Canada your 2-6 year old should have 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. One serving is a half cup. Summer is the ideal time to give your child fresh fruit and vegetables. So how do we get our kids away from the sugary popsicles, ice cream and lemonade for more healthy foods and drinks? Here are some successful ideas.
Most children love the sweet juicy tastes of fruit like strawberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, and watermelon. They can be eaten raw right in its original form or cut up into small pieces for your child to select different colours of the rainbow. Fruit can also be transformed into delicious healthy treats like smoothies, sauces, and crisps. Try making healthy fruit jam using approximately 1 pound of fruit with 2 tbs of chia seeds. A sweetener is optional.
It seems that most parents have trouble getting their little ones to eat their vegetables. Fortunately there are ways around this problem. If you are lucky enough to have your own garden then you may find your child voluntarily roaming around the garden, picking and eating vegetables- dirt and all. There is nothing sweeter than freshly picked vegetables warmed by the sun.
Get your child involved in the process of preparing the vegetables. Have your child help select the types of vegetables the family will be eating. If they are interested they can help prepare them too. Kids can help by getting veggies out of the refrigerator, washing and peeling. Older kids can help grate and cut under proper adult supervision. When your children are involved in the process of preparing food they are more likely to eat it.
There is also the wonderful trick of puree! Puree your vegetables and beans when you are preparing sauces, soups, casseroles and desserts- virtually any snack or meal. You can easily hide beans and vegetables into your favourite recipes and most kids won’t even notice. Are you feeling adventurous? Try avocado pudding; In a blender blend 1 ripe avocado, ½ cup milk of choice, and 1 tbs honey. Top with nuts or granola. Add cocoa powder for chocolate pudding.
Smoothies are a delicious way to get your daily dose. Frozen fruit coupled with greens usually kale or spinach are used because they are so easy to blend and is readily available. If your child detects something is up it is usually because of the green colour of the leafy greens. The beautiful dark colour of blueberries is great for hiding the greens. If you want a protein and omega boost add flax seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds.
Raw vegetables can easily be eaten while preparing dinner. Cut up a variety of veggies and put them on a plate for the kids to snack on. The plate will be wiped out just before you sit down to eat especially if they see you snacking on them as you cook.
Introduce you child to as many colours of fruits and vegetables as possible. All the different colours mean different nutrients, vitamins and minerals which are all important to a healthy body and mind. The goal should be to eat the rainbow. Have fun and enjoy experiencing new fruits and vegetables which can be exciting to everyone in the family.