11 Tips for Happy and Healthy Eating

Photo Credit: orangeacid via Compfight cc

By Guest Blogger: Stefanie Dove, Human Nutrition and Dietetics Student

Ask any parent what their biggest battle is with their children and they will likely say getting them to eat their fruits and veggies.  With school back in session, it can sometimes be hard to monitor how much of the packed lunch your kids actually ate.

Here are a few tips and ideas to get them to eat all of the fruits and veggies you pack for them:

1. Bright colored containers not only catch the eye but depending on how small or large they are, it can also help our little ones stay engaged in their lunch as they keep opening up “surprises” in each container.

2. Kids not only love shapes but it also helps them become a little more curious about their fruits and vegetables which helps make it less of a struggle to get them to try some.  You can do things such as cutting whole wheat pita bread with their favorite cookie cutters and making a sandwich or even creating a hummus veggie pizza.

3. Grab your melon baller and scoop some of their favorite fruits to help make a great fruit salad.  The non-traditional shapes of the fruits will be more appealing.

4. Slice veggies such as cucumbers, zucchini, squash, and carrots with a crinkle cheese cutter to give them a new shape and texture.

5. Kids love being able to make their own food, so you can sauté fajita style veggies and pack in the lunch with additional healthy toppings such as a little Greek yogurt, spinach, tomatoes, etc. so that way they have a variety of veggies to choose from and get excited about being involved in making their own meals.

6. If your kids like guacamole, you can make this amazing version that also adds peas in it to give them that extra serving of veggies!  Just replace one of the avocados with a small bag of frozen peas to your favorite guacamole recipe.

7. Serving veggies with hummus is a great way to introduce veggies to even the pickiest eaters.  Most children love to dip their food in things and with the variety of flavors hummus comes in, if there is one they love, just try giving them bite size veggies to start.

8. For the younger children, you can try turning their plate full of fruits and veggies into a work of art.  A great way to do this is to create a rainbow scene on their plate or in the lunchbox by incorporating fruits and veggies of all colors.  Another way to do this is to make colorful fruit and veggie kabobs.  You can add cubes of their favorite cheese to make them more appealing.

9. A longtime staple in most homes has always been Mac & Cheese.  I love making these Mac & Cheese muffins for lunches, which are easy to pack. Adding butternut squash in them not only adds to the creaminess, but also gives that extra serving of veggies!  I also love using quinoa pasta in place of whole wheat so that I can get that extra protein punch as well!

10. Butterfly bags are a great way to send berries, grapes, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes to school.  Decorate a wooden clothespin with your child’s favorite colors and fill each half of the sandwich bag with a different item and clip the pin in the center to make a butterfly.

11. Make mini cucumber sandwiches using slices of cucumbers with hummus, tuna salad, etc. between 2 slices of cumbers.

While it might continue to be a challenge incorporating some fun ways to incorporate fruits and veggies into the lunch box will help them become more comfortable with the idea of eating them on a daily basis.

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