Like many folks, Enviro Girl begins each new year with a resolve to eat healthier–and get her family to eat healthier, too. Given the choice between a bag of chips and a bag of carrots, her family will always reach for the chips. The men in her household are huge carb junkies, leaving almost no room for the other food groups. But over the years, here are a few ways she’s encouraged their fruit and veggie consumption:
1) Make it the only option. It’s impossible to reach for a bag of chips when there aren’t any chips in the pantry. Enviro Girl doesn’t buy carb-based snacks and when she hears the kids whine “I’m HUNGRY” she directs them to a banana, orange, apple or carrots.
2) Make it the easy option. Just before supper’s on the table is when her crew is bound to come into the kitchen looking for something–anything–to munch on. Enviro Girl sets out a bowl of grapes or a dish of carrots and since it’s easy, that’s what her family reaches for. Enviro Girl is a big fan of raw fruits and vegetables because they’re easy to snack on–often involve a quick rinse and sometimes a little chopping. Snack food doesn’t get much easier than that!
3) Make it the tasty option. Enviro Girl buys at least 5 different types of fruits or vegetables each week. Right now she has apples, bananas, clementines, pineapple and spinach in her fridge. She’s got frozen blueberries and strawberries from last summer just waiting to be thawed. With so much variety, eating healthy foods becomes more appealing.
4) Make it the main option. When meals are served, fruits and vegetables always go on the table. A dish of sliced apples and a bowl of grapes sit next to the pan of lasagna. And like the lunch ladies in school cafeterias, Enviro Girl makes her kids take 3 things on their plate. Inevitably they have to reach for the fruit or vegetables.
5) Just put them on the plate. Ever notice how when you’re at a nice restaurant, you often get served a bit of fresh fruit as a garnish–and most people eat it? Enviro Girl has–and she uses that trick at home. Last night when her family ate waffles for dinner, each plate had a peeled clementine artfully arranged. Guess how many clementines her family ate? All of them–because they were there on the plate.
6) Cook with the vegetables, bake with the fruit. Enviro Girl makes pasta, quiche, soup and casseroles with additions of vegetables. Peppers, onions, zucchini, tomato, spinach, peas–they’re easy to toss into almost any recipe. Breads, cakes and muffins taste even better with berries or diced fruit.
Eating healthy means making an intentional effort. What are some of your favorite ways to serve up vegetables and fruit at your table?