Vegetables are very important for the body. They contain fibre, anti-oxidants and important vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Vitamin E and potassium, which are very important for good health and children’s growth.
But, it very is common for children to claim to not like their vegetables!
Getting the recommended two pieces of fruit and five serves of vegetables into your child’s meals every day can sometimes be challenging. However, research shows they’re more likely to do so if they’re available and ready to eat. For example, just keeping a bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen or cut up vegetable sticks in the fridge at all times can encourage healthier snacking.
Here are some more tips and tricks to help you hit the goal of seven serves a day for your family.
Include fruit and vegies in every meal
Getting the prescribed two pieces of fruit and five serves of vegetables into meals is a breeze when spread out over an entire day:
- Breakfast – avocado on toast or Weetbix with strawberries and yoghurt
- Morning tea – a banana or crispbreads with peanut butter
- Lunch – Egg, cheese and salad sandwich or pumpkin soup
- Afternoon tea – carrot sticks with dip or a glass of milk
- Dinner – Spaghetti Bolognese with diced green beans or lamb kebab with capsicum and onion
- Dessert – Fruit salad and natural yoghurt
Tip – Try serving children with frozen peas/corn as a snack or while dinner is being prepared.
Make food fun
Don’t underestimate the power of fun looking, colourful food when introducing more fruit and vegies into your children’s lives. Here are a few simple and healthy ideas with fruits and vegies that look cute too:
- Fruit kebabs – balls of rockmelon, apple, banana and grapes on a skewer
- Egg faces – cook eggs and arrange slices of tomato and avocado to make the shape of a face
- Dip platters – cut up lots of different coloured vegetables to go with a dip: orange carrot, green celery and red capsicum are a great start
- Pizza faces – add tomato, mushroom, eggplant, onion, capsicum and tomato
Sneak them in
One of the easiest ways to make sure kids are getting plenty of vegies into their meals is to not even tell them about it! Sneaking fresh produce into meals can be as simple as cutting up vegies until they are so tiny that they can’t be detected. Try these dishes:
- Spaghetti Bolognese (sauce) – carrots, mushroom, green beans, capsicum
- Quiche –sweet potato, leek, asparagus, zucchini, carrots
- Lasagne – pumpkin, eggplant, tomato
- Macaroni and cheese – cauliflower, chives
- Salmon or vegetable patties – add grated carrots and zucchini to the patties and serve with a side salad.
- Fried rice – only very determined children will pick out all the pieces of carrots and peas!
Recommended daily serves of fruit and vegetables by age
|Age||Fruit (girls)||Fruit (boys)||Vegetables (girls)||Vegetables (boys)|
|2-3||1||1||2 1/2||2 1/2|
|4-8||1 1/2||1 1/2||4 1/2||4 1/2|
Note: One serve of fruit is 150 grams (equal to 1 medium-sized apple; 2 smaller pieces (e.g. apricots); 1 cup of canned or chopped fruit; ½ cup (125ml) 99% unsweetened fruit juice; or 1½ tablespoons dried fruit). One serve of vegetables is 75 grams (equal to ½ cup cooked vegetables; 1/2 medium potato; 1 cup of salad vegetables; or ½ cup cooked legumes (dried beans, peas or lentils).
Healthy habits that help
- Be a good role model for your child. Let your child see you eat and enjoy a variety of vegetables.
- Don’t make a fuss and insist that your child eats all their vegetables. Sometimes making a big deal about eating the vegetables can do more harm than good.
- Try simply putting the vegetables on the plate and encouraging your child to try them. They will eat vegetables eventually if they are hungry. Do not offer them any other types of food in place of the vegetables.
- Give your child a choice between a small selection of vegetables. This way they feel as if they have some say over what is eaten, but within limits. For example, “Would you like peas or beans with your grilled chicken tonight?
- Serve the family dinner meal with extra salad/vegetables in the centre of the table. This way children know if they want more, they have a selection to choose from.
Did you know?
22% of Australian children aged 5 to 16 years are above a healthy weight.
Only 26% of Australian children are active enough.
Only 5% of Australian children eat enough vegetables.