Like most moms, Kendra wants her son to eat a healthy and nutritious diet. But that’s much easier said than done since many toddlers and kids — and even a good number of adults! — run for cover whenever a fruit or vegetable is placed in front of them.
“Do you eat enough fruits and vegetables? Do your kids?” asks Elizabeth Ward, M.S., R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and author of MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself and Your Family Better. “The answer is probably not.” Ward believes that both lack of time and lack of interest are the two biggest culprits. “The American diet is short on produce and it’s time we change that.”
Here, Ward shares 14 creative – and quick — ways to make fruits and veggies more appetizing and easily-available to you and your family:
*Stock up on dried fruit, such as California raisins, cranberries and apricots to add to snacks, main dishes and desserts. “And keep some in your bag for a quick snack,” adds Ward.
*”When you have the choice, opt for 100% fruit juice, such as orange juice, instead of sugary juice beverages,” says Ward. The same goes for sipping 100% vegetable juice, which goes well with a meal or alone as a healthy snack.
*Spread almond butter on sliced apples or pears for a snack.
*Puree fruit, such as fresh mango or canned apricots, and combine with fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt.
*Make your own trail mix including chopped almonds, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, whole-grain cereal and dried fruit.
*Make fruit kabobs with pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes and berries.
*Prepare fruit-based desserts, such as fruit crisp, baked apples or pears or fruit salad.
*Make frozen juice bars with 100% fruit. “They are less expensive than store-bought and more fun for the kids,” says Ward.
*Plan meals around vegetables, such as vegetable chicken stir-fry or vegetable chili. “Double the amount of vegetables and reduce the meat by half in your favorite recipes,” advises Ward.
*Make veggie pizzas at home using chopped red bell pepper, mushrooms, onions and artichokes. “And when ordering pizza, ask for vegetables on top.”
*Add chopped vegetables to prepared pasta sauce or to your favorite lasagna recipe.
*Roast veggies, such as chopped broccoli and cauliflower and thickly-sliced carrots. Toss with olive oil and the herbs of your choice and roast at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.
*Grill vegetables, such as asparagus and eggplant. Brush each piece with olive oil before setting directly on the grill.
*Add a 14-ounce can of cooked pumpkin or other pureed cooked vegetables (such as sweet potato) to stews, soups and gravies. “Pureed veggies add flavor, nutrients and texture,” states Ward.