Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Eating more fruits and veggies!

Eating more fruits and veggies comes pretty easy for me because I LOVE them! But with six kids, I know sometimes they can be more of a challenge- for various reasons!

Here's some ideas that have worked for me through the years:

-When my kids were little, I served them what we ate, fruits, veggies, and all. I mashed them, but they got what we ate and they just naturally acquired a taste for almost all of my "regular foods". (My oldest would crack their grandparents up asking for green beans and corn every time they went to visit- they always had a big garden and my kids knew this was the food at their house!)

-I've taken notes from smart ladies like Laura and I've almost stopped shopping anywhere but meats, dairy, and produce! No pre-packaged, processed food means more money for fruits and veggies!

-Stock up on the more frugal/cheaper foods: onions, potatoes, apples, grapes, carrots, celery, etc.

The others, wait for sales! And often, organic things like salads and apples go on sale for close to the average price for the non-organic.

-Muffins! Yeah I know the topic but muffins are one of my favorite 'snack' foods AND I try to make it a habit to STUFF them with fruits (and sometimes veggies, like carrots, pumpkins, zukes, etc)! Chopped apples, raisins, coconut, cherries, blueberries, etc.- even chopped prunes!

-Fruit salads for dessert! Chop any and everything and toss in some bananas and top with coconut! My kids also like it when I heat my homemade jelly and pour it over some of the more tart fruits as a 'sauce'.

-Snack "boats"! This is a romaine lettuce leaf topped with almost anything; cream cheese, yogurt cheese, mayo, spicy mustard, even peanut butter, etc. Then I put on some shredded leftover chicken, or carrot slices, cheese slices, or raisins on peanut butter- and whammo- yummy snack!

-Adding fruit to breakfast grains! This one is kinda new for me but I've been seeing just how much that I can get by with ;-). I have been topping their (soaked) grain cereals (millet, oats, steel cut oats aka bug oats, brown rice, bulgur, etc) with about 1/3 cup frozen blueberries - and so far, they love it! It cools down the hot cereal and it colors it too! All that fun- ...and its just breakfast time!

-Dips! What kid doesn't like to dip? You can use things like Laura's Ranch Seasonings etc. to mix in yogurt and/or buttermilk, and use with any and all veggies. Serve them once a day at 'snack time', or in the place of 'chips' at lunch. (cukes, zukes, celery, carrots, bell peppers, etc) My kids have a favorite fruit dip; mix yogurt about equally with a natural peanut butter! Yummy!

- A mini food processor! Its my best friend! I can finely chop alllllll sorts of veggies (onions, peppers, carrots, zukes, etc) in just a few minutes and tuck them into almost anything! - Meatloaves, meat patties, soups, slaws, etc. It also comes in handy for the muffin tip above!

-1/3 -2/3 plate OR 1/4 -3/4 plate, usually in summer! The smaller portion (1/4 to 1/3) is for the meat or main and the larger portion of the plate(2/3 to 3/4) is for the veggies! (And sometimes fruit- or fruit is served at the side in a small cup.) *This usually means a minimum of two veggies but often 3 and up!

-Serving a small side salad! This is easier in the summer because of gardens and good prices but I have often found a frugal approach even during winter months! You can often find organic romaine at $2.99 and organic carrots for .88 at Walmart. Washed, stacked, and cut into strips with a knife, can get get your whole family a small side salad from one bunch of the romaine and there are three in a bag. You can shred 1 small carrot over the top and toss in any other veggie that you have on hand and build an even bigger salad. (strips of onions, peppers, cukes, zukes, mushrooms, and even some canned foods like olives, mushrooms, peppers, etc) Most kids like salads if you can find a dressing that they like! (And a variety of veggies can be sneakily crafted into salads!)

-Side soups! You can whip up a frugal soup in minutes! Make a big batch and keep it in the fridge and bring out just a pot at a time and have 'simple' lunches. Example: meat or egg, soup, bread OR beans, soup, cornbread OR salad, soup, bread. (Make up a big salad and keep in airtight container on Monday and a big pot of soup, and you can switch them around with other things all week for yummy, frugal, healthy, and quick lunches!) And soups are another great place to smuggle in 'weird' and "not-so-kid-friendly" veggies!

-Make veggie plates for all burgers and sandwiches! Lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, pickled peppers, pickles, homemade NT kraut, olives, mushrooms, shredded carrots, cukes, etc. My kids love it when I make "subway sandwiches"- which turns out more like a salad on a bun!

-Make a game of periodically trying a 'new food' and let the kids take turns picking it out! My next request is for yucca!

-Let the kids take turns picking the veggies at the meal. I will thaw out a meat, and ask one of the kids (usually the one that's been the most finicky lately) to pick out two veggies from the freezer and bring them up, and/or pick from the fridge.

-Smoothies! I'm sure you all know this one! But this is a great place to get creative! And if you have children who can be pickier, let them pick the flavor or fruits that go in the smoothie. Smuggle in a handful of spinach or even half a tomato. Weird fruits that some frown at go into my smoothies often, like kiwi. (I have a couple that say kiwi makes their mouth feel weird?!)

-I read about one mother who made her kids eat a whole serving of fruit before they could have anything sugary. Excellent idea! But how about trying to make more sweets with fruit? Cobblers, fruit crisps, fruit salads, breads, muffins, and even toppings for cakes!

Oh my! I'm getting a little too long-winded! I just looked back at what I had typed! lol

But anyway, this is some of the things that have helped me get my children to EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGGIES!

Visit Laura's for more ideas!


Snow White said...

Great list! I love pureeing or finely chopping veggies -- try carrots mixed with cheese in a quesadilla... yum.

I hear your kid(s) on the kiwi thing-- I actually have oral allergy syndrome, in which kiwi does make my mouth tingle.

Joy said...

Very good list! When our garden comes in we usually eat only it and nothing else! We really love fresh veggies and fruit! Great tips thanks for sharing!

alecat said...

Thanks for sharing this!
I'm in the process of organising our meal with guests for tomorrow night - feeding a total of 14 mouths and trying to limit the meat expenses. Well, actually, it's because that's all I have in the freezer, lol!!