In the last ten years or so, parents have been bombarded with information about healthy eating, with 5 A Day, becoming a buzzword for both children and adults. Yet, despite the numbers of hours spent on creating policy papers and advertising healthy habits, according to a report published by the NHS in February 2013, 9.5% of children in England who started reception during 2011-2012 were obese.
The idea of feeding children fruits and vegetables daily is easy in writing, but many parents know that it is more challenging in practice. For instance, in our home, fruits and vegetables are ‘evil’. Peppers and courgettes are sure to cause dissent on the dinner table, resulting in me threatening my daughter with all sorts of tortures if she doesn’t eat her peppers. If I’m feeling generous, I use bribery.
However, if you object to torture or bribery, try sneaking. Here are some sneaky ideas to add fruits and vegetables in your children’s diet:
Very few kids I know don’t like pasta, and it’s the easiest dish to add more vegetables. Simply, go easy on the minced meat and be generous with the sauce. Instead of buying off the shelf sauce, make your own based on creamed tomato, garlic and onion sautéed in olive or sunflower oil. Add finely diced carrots for added bulk to replace the minced meat. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which is an antioxidant that helps repair damage cells. And unlike other, fruits and vegetables, tomatoes are better when canned or cooked, as the process breaks down and release the lycopene, making it easy for the body to absorb.
Who doesn’t like smoothie? Well, my friend Susan doesn’t like it because it’s cold. But apart from her, most kids and adults I know love smoothie. Made with fresh or frozen fruits, a smoothie is a perfect alternative to carbonated drinks or plain ice cream. What’s more, you can use any fruits you like to make it, so you have a wide choice of flavour to choose from. To thicken, use banana or yogurt instead of ice cream for a healthier option.
Most kids eat meatballs. So it’s another dish you can sneak vegetables into. Instead of buying them ready made, try making your own, adding carrots, mushroom and onions into the mix. Chop the vegetables finely, and your kids will never notice they’re eating vegetables.