Children can be very savvy when they want to avoid fruits and vegetables and parents need to step up and get smart.  It is a battle of the sneakiest and victory is very sweet.

Any of these sound familiar?

  • “I’m full Mum”
  • “I’m not that hungry Mum”
  • “I had a big lunch Mum”

I’ve seen hundreds of pieces mysteriously fall to the floor – quite enough to feed a small third world country.  Watch out for hiding food under other food as well. This is another popular enemy tactic.

Through experience (and tears) here are a few tried and true ideas which will ensure the children’s fruit and vegetable intake remains stable.

Grate It

Add almost any grated vegetable to spaghetti bolognese, homemade burger mixes, fritters, pasta dishes, fried rice or curries. Root vegetables such as beetroot, carrot, potato, kumara, pumpkin are ideal and courgettes (or zucchini) are great in pies and fritters.

Smoothies

For anyone who isn’t a great breakfast eater (both kids and adults) smoothies give a good start to the day.  Basically, breakfast in a glass by mixing rolled oats, berries, banana and yoghurt.  Delicious, transportable plus full of antioxidants, grains and protein.

Presentation

A simple banana isn’t half as appealing as a fruit kebab of 2 pieces of banana, apple, kiwifruit etc.  You could even add a marshmallow as the ‘deal clincher’ and eventually fade them out.

Frozen Food

It seems all kids love frozen food. Frozen peas, frozen berries, frozen mixed vegetable, plus they are effortless and snapped frozen to hold in their goodness.  History tells us – the more effort you put into a meal the more likely it is to be rejected.  Make no mistake, kids smell fear and if you are tired and just want the day to be over – you will stink of it.

Confidence in the Kitchen

Once they are old enough get them involved in some of the basics of cooking and baking.  When you are younger you want to be older and helping Mum and Dad in the kitchen is a grown up thing to do.  Eventually, they will realise everything tastes better with onions and garlic (except maybe cake).   However, you may still need to throw in some “mystery food” went your child isn’t looking.

No Knives and Forks!

Kids love the idea of picking up food and this is especially helpful when they are really little and haven’t mastered cutlery yet.

  • Vietnamese pork balls wrapped in lettuce leaves
  • Vegetable sticks with hummus or vegetable based dips
  • Offer them olives instead of raisins which contain lot of sugar
  • Anything wrapped in bacon!
  • Rice paper rolls
  • Make you own burgers (which already has that grated beetroot in the patties)
  • Homemade pizza
  • Sushi with avocado
  • Browse Google for parenting forums. You’ll find other tricks from sneaky professionals

Give In Sometimes

There is a certain time in a child’s early life when they eat the same thing 100 times and then without rhyme or reason it is blacklisted.  Baked beans on toast have excellent iron and protein and at least a cheese and onion toasted sandwich contains protein and calcium. This also comes back to the “fear” again.  If you are tired and the fruit and veggie bins are near empty, such meal alternatives are not a big deal.

Remember those weekends away when you’ve eaten too many petrol station pies and sandwiches?  Within 2-3 days your body was craving a green or fruit salad wasn’t it?  Though kids may never admit it this will also happen to them before long.

Just don’t expect any thanks – the enemy needs to feel they have won!

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