We all know that we should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day because of the many benefits offered by them. Vegetables and fruits are nutrient-dense and add fiber to our daily diet. They enhance our immunity, make our skin glow, improve our digestion and keep us healthy. They offer vitamins and minerals essential for the proper functioning of our body.
But knowing and doing are different. Sometimes, it is not easy to convince ourselves or our family members to consume more vegetables and fruits. We are tempted to fill up on convenience and junk food. Many of us would rather go for a bag of chips or a bowl of pasta instead of trying an apple or steamed broccoli. So, we will have to get creative to inspire our family members to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.
Here are a few ideas to “sneak” extra vegetables and fruits into your family’s diet. Come along and read.
1. Start the day with a breakfast smoothie. Smoothies are easy to prepare. You just need to throw in a blender some vegetables like spinach, kale, celery, fruits like banana, apple, and ice. Add more vegetables and fewer fruits. You may also want to add some protein powder or yogurt. Blend for a few seconds, and you have a delicious and healthy breakfast ready to go. To make it even more interesting for your kids, use some frozen yogurt in the smoothie. Smoothies are delicious and filling. They are also good for health.
2. Dried fruits and nuts make an excellent snack at any time of the day. Add a handful of nuts and raisins to your child’s lunch box, pack some yogurt-covered raisins in your office snack box and keep some trail mix sitting around for snacking. You can also add dried fruit and nuts to your breakfast in the morning.
3. Add some fruits and vegetables to sandwiches. You can add some sliced apples, strawberry slices or banana to a peanut butter sandwich. Top a potato sandwich with tomato, cucumber, lettuce, and anything else your family members will eat. You can even prepare a sub shop style vegetable sandwich by combining different vegetables with some hummus and cheese on bread.
4. Have a salad bar at dinner. Set out a variety of chopped vegetables and some healthy, fresh cheese as well as several choices of salad dressing and let everybody create their own perfect salad. This becomes a fun-filled and creative activity.
5. Let them drink their vegetables. Keep an assortment of vegetable juices in the refrigerator and encourage your family members to drink them as a snack. You can try getting creative. You can host “family cocktail hour” once in a week and pour everybody a glass of his or her favorite juice over ice. Add some straws and sit together to talk about how everybody’s day went by.
6. Add fruits to the desert. Put a scoop of frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit. Try various kinds of fruits. This is a healthier alternative to sugar-loaded desserts.
7. Offer vegetables and fruits as snacks. You can cut apples and bananas into slices and top them with honey or peanut butter. Cut some fresh vegetables and serve them. Spread some peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins on it. Make a fruit salad and top it with dried fruits and nuts.
8. Try some new fruits and vegetables. Pick something exotic to increase your family’s curiosity. With a little luck, their curiosity may outweigh their initial apprehension to try something new. You could try artichokes, yam, star fruit, or anything else you can find in your local store’s produce department.
9. Make a pot of vegetable soup that’s heavy on veggies and encourage your family members to have this soup throughout the day. This makes some great comfort food when the weather gets cold. Soups are delicious and are also healthy.
10. Start “My Vegetable Day.” Each family member gets an opportunity to pick a vegetable one day of the week. Make it fun and exciting. They qualify to pick a vegetable if they tried each vegetable the week before, otherwise they lose a turn.
11. Vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, capsicum, spinach are versatile and are taste enhancers. You can add them to various food items like idlis, dosas, parathas, rice etc. and create your own signature dishes. You can also use them for garnishing.
12. Conduct a mindfulness practice session around eating vegetables and fruits once a week. For this, ask your family members to choose their favorite vegetable or fruit. Ask them to see the color, enjoy the smell and mindfully eat each bite of the vegetable or fruit and relish the taste. This simple practice builds a connection and fondness for fruits and vegetables.
13. Change the way in which food items are placed in your home. Generally, when someone is hungry, they tend to eat what is easily accessible to them. So, keep vegetables and fruits right in front of the eyes and make them easily accessible. If they are hidden somewhere and not visible, it becomes difficult to pick them.
Incorporate some of these ideas, and you will gradually have everyone in your family eat more fruits and vegetables. It takes time to change habits. So, be patient and work slowly. With small but consistent steps, add vegetables and fruits to your family diet daily in innovative ways. Don’t forget that consistency is the key to embrace new habits.
Now that everyone in the family has started appreciating vegetables and fruits make sure you have a good stock of fresh fruits and veggies available in your home. Go for seasonal fruits and vegetables as it brings in variety and newness. Enjoy these beautiful gifts of mother nature.
Wish you and your family good health!