Upping the Veggies

Tips to Getting Young Ones to Eat More Healthy Produce in their Day

In today's world common snacks for kids consist of so called "fruit" bars, the basic bag of chips and oodles of candy coming from every nook and cranny in most stores.

Vegetables (and sometimes real fruit) can be a tough one to encourage as let's be honest - that round green pepper just does not look as fun as the package of Fun Dip with a candy stick.

Here are some tips as to how you can get your young ones to eat more healthy produce in their day:

Get them involved
Take them grocery shopping as a helper

Assign them a task
Such as "can you please get us a 4 liter jug of 1% milk?" They will be ecstatic and jump at the opportunity.

Expand on their chef-like abilities
Make it a weekly goal to have them help you prepare at least 1 meal and 1 snack item each week. When one is involved in the making of something one is more inclined to actually try it and see how their creation turned out.

Keep it fun
This means add color - use the full rainbow of colors in all fruits and vegetables. Pick a color theme for every Wednesday Snack or meal ask them for help on foods of that color you (and them) can prepare.
Faces are great to assemble with a face base such as pita, cracker, bread, cut vegetable coin etc. Sprouts always make great hair too!

Follow a basic theme of Sip, Dip and Spreading
These elements mean the kids get to get their hands dirty in the food - and as we know it follows the principle of where there is mud there are also kids. Some ideas to get you started:

Arrange fruit or vegetables on a skewer and compliment with dip like yogurt or hummus. Salad dressings can make a quick dip but remember to buy lower fat versions. Ranch seems to always be a hit.

Mashed avocado with a bit of salsa not only provides over 20 vitamins and minerals but avocado is packed with healthy fat that not only supports the heart but brain learning power. Baked pita chips go nicely with this.

Children prefer raw vegetables most times versus cooked so don't be scared on keeping a "magical" plate in the fridge of washed and ready to munch on veggies that your children know they can eat from any time of day.

Homemade fruit salsa is a great topping to any meat, pancake, toast or loaf. Chopped mangos with pineapple and cilantro or mint taste great.

Add sliced tomatoes to grilled cheese sandwiches or try the old toasted tomato sandwich.

Nutrition Educator, Author and TV personality Karla Heintz travels and speaks to groups across Canada on health and wellness and ways to improve family eating - even for the husbands.

Karla is the author of Picky? Not Me, Mom! and works with countless families on getting more fruits and vegetables into their diet. As a consultant and writer for various health magazines she is always on her toes with new research.