21 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruit & Vegetables

One thing that seems to come up repeatedly in mum forums, in parenting magazines and books, and in everyday conversations is how to get kids to eat more fruit and vegetables.  The thing is I'm not sure how all these children have ended up not eating fruit and veg, because they're delicious! Here are some ideas on how to get your kids to eat more vegetables and fruit.

Got a reluctant eater? Try these tricks:

1. Take a tip from the hipsters and get quirky with your presentation.  Try boards and mini buckets, serve salads in jars.

2. Try a daily green juice of apples, green leaves, celery, cucumber, spinach, mint that they can tweak to their own recipe.

3. Introduce new vegetables and fruits every week, without comment.  Just prepare the food and let everyone discover them for themselves.  They might not like bananas, but what about mango or figs?

4. Get them growing food, picking it in your garden or at a farm, and cooking it.

5. Try grating salad.  A dish of grated cabbage, carrot, beetroot, fennel, courgette etc mixed with sultanas, diced apple and halved nuts may be popular.

6. Practice what you preach!  Make sure your kids see you enjoying a wide variety of fruit and vegetables every day.  Sit round the table for as many meals as you can, and let your kids see you helping yourself to the good foods and trying new combinations.

7. Get them making smoothies with lots of exotic fruit, they'll probably want to try some raw too.

8. Try cute mini vegetables and salad items, like tiny whole cauliflowers cooked, baby cucumbers or peppers with their lunch.

9. Clean up the whole family's diet and exercise routine.  Ditch the fizzy drinks, junk food, ready meals and take-aways and get outside for a family walk every day.  All of your bodies will be craving better food.

10. Teach kids how to cook from the earliest age.  Get them involved in preparing all the meals and snacks and talk to them about what they do and don't like and why.  There may be some interesting explanations!

11. Visit your local farm shop or farmers' market with your kids and let them do the shopping.  Teach them about seasonal, organic and locally grown foods.  Give them a budget to stick to in the supermarket and don't judge what they pick up.

12. Introduce novelty heritage vegetables, such as purple and white carrots or black, yellow and green tomatoes.

13. Keep your fridge and fruit bowl stocked with lots of delicious-looking fresh produce.  If it's there looking great, they are more likely to eat it.

14. Try a new cookbook each month and get everyone to choose a couple of recipes they would like to cook and eat.  Try different cuisines and flavours.

15. Present food beautifully, adding garnishes and back of the spoon swirls a la Masterchef. We eat with our eyes first, remember.

16. They don't like cooked veg?  Offer lots of raw or pickled veggies.  My middle one is mad about sauerkraut at the moment and gets through bowls full of the stuff; and they all adore pickled cucumbers and olives.  Try it, their tastes may surprise you.

17. Never assume. See above and get creative with new options every day.

18. Vary where you eat.  Carpet picnics, outdoor picnics, in a tent, on the sofa, food can become significantly more appealing when served quirkily in a different location.

19. Let them pick, literally, by eating with toothpicks, or eat with their hands.  Try monkey platters.

20. Don't forget that beans and lentils count as one of their 5 a day (8-10 portions is preferable though), so mix them into a shepherd's pie, serve a bean salad, or rustle up some Boston baked beans.  Even surprising things like tinned baked beans and spaghetti hoops count.

21. Take their preferences into account and serve vegetable sticks to one and salad to another, it's fine for them to like different things and different ways of presenting them.

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