Plant a garden, cook with your kids, take them to the supermarket, involve them with fun opportunities to learn about food, like taking them to a farm, an orchard or local produce stand. All of these ideas are ways to get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. All parents want their kids to be healthy and getting down-to-earth provides a perfect opportunity to make a perfect memory that will help plant the seed for healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
I have seen the excitement kids can have over the first juicy, red tomato saying “oh my gosh!” over and over. I have witnessed kids jumping up and down over baby bananas and kiwi in the produce section at the supermarket. The reason these kids are so enthusiastic about something other than candy is that the learning experience is fun for them. I think really its all about spending a little time teaching kids the role of food in the body, how it can nourish us and how it can be fun to learn about – really just taking the time to help them learn and making it fun. Taking kids on a mission through the produce section opens the eyes of many in the supermarket, but wide eyes are soon turned to wide smiles as kids are excited to take their pictures with naturally (not artificially colored!) fruits and vegetables. This experience is only extended and more deeply appreciated when the kids are able to get into the garden and grow those fruits and vegetables too.
One way that works well for younger kids is to focus on colors – Eating the Rainbow – or in our store, our classes are called “Eat Bright!”. Each class focuses on one specific color and we guide the kids through the produce section searching for more of that color. Kids are excited to touch and feel, smell and see all the different colors and types of produce. Kids don’t ordinarily get that opportunity to spend a little extra time in that section without parents saying “hurry up, let’s go”, but when that time is taken, a world of difference can be made. And when the kids get to “purchase” the ingredients and make their own food during class featuring that color – every single one of them takes a bite (but more often – eats the whole thing!). The proof is in the pudding – or should I say – fruits and vegetables.
My son told me this year he wanted to plant radishes because he “now liked them”, which of course a mother that happens to be a dietitian loves to hear! So we did, and here is his first bite.
Crisp and juicy – love the red juice on his lip, and the sun is making him squint!
This is the same boy who once thought an onion was an apple and bit into it. You can imagine what happened next.
Fresh from the garden radish tips: Cut a sliver out of the middle of the radish and then insert a little garden vegetable lite cream cheese. It makes them delicious! You can also grate or finely chop radishes with a food processor and then toss some raisins and poppy seed dressing. This makes a great addtion to a fresh spinach salad. Pick young radishes that aren’t too large and woody, the larger they are, the more likely you will have a stronger, possibly more bitter flavor.
How will you help your kids plant the seeds for healthy habits that will last a lifetime?