Trying to get more fruits and vegetables into our kids’ diets is often one of life’s biggest challenges. Either they’ve tried something and didn’t like it, or they’re averse to anything even remotely healthy.
Sometimes it can be hard to get your five-a-day into your own diet too, especially if you’re a busy parent. But neither of these things are impossible. Here, we have some tips on getting more nutrient-dense foods onto the plates of both you and your kids – without even noticing it.
Go for hidden vegetables
If you or your kids have an aversion to whole vegetables, you don’t need to force them down to reap the benefits. Hiding vegetables in pasta sauces or soups is a great way to add a nutritional boost to your food without it tasting overwhelmingly vegetable-y. You can either blend your vegetables into a homemade sauce or, if you’re time-poor, buy a ready-made version.
This is a great way to utilise tinned and frozen veg too. These options are not only more affordable, but in some cases, can be more nutritious too.
You don’t just have to ‘hide’ vegetables in sauces, either – get creative and put some swede into your mashed potatoes, add flavourful options into a batch of homemade hummus, or take inspiration from carrot cake and add some hidden fruit into your desserts too.
Cultivate your own
Kids can be unnecessarily fussy sometimes. The mere colour or shape of a vegetable might be enough to put them off before it’s even passed their lips. It can be frustrating, but there are ways around this.
Getting green-fingered and growing your own fruit and vegetables – with the help of your little ones – is one way to overcome this aversion. Kids are much less likely to turn their nose up at something that they’ve put a lot of hard work into!
There are also a lot of other benefits of getting your kids stuck into gardening, from mood-boosting exposure to nature to a healthy dose of exercise that won’t over-exert them. You can even plan your recipes in advance with them to get them excited about devouring the result of their hard work.
Switch to smoothies for breakfast
Smoothies are a treat that’s extra delectable in the summer. Whether you love a berry concoction or a tropical blend, they’re an amazing and delicious way to fit more fruit and vegetables into your diet. Spinach and bananas make great smoothie bases, adding sweetness and a powerful dose of nutrition without being overpowering flavours. Sweet vegetables like peas, sweet potato, carrot and sweetcorn can also be added to smoothies without making them less sweet, just serve in one of your favourite mugs and enjoy.
Smoothies don’t just need to be an afternoon drink either. Use Greek yoghurt in your favourite smoothie recipe for a punch of protein that’ll keep you full until lunchtime. For an extra-satiating treat that you can enjoy like cereal breakfast, try your hand at a smoothie bowl – use the smoothie as the base of your breakfast and add an extra boost to it with whole berries, banana slices, or chia seeds to make it feel like a complete meal.
Many of us grew up with an aversion to vegetables that lasted well into adulthood, or we may have kids that turn their noses up at fresh produce. With these hacks, you can pack nutrients into your diet and your kids’ meals without even noticing them.