By Karen Ranzi
Some of the many advantages your children will experience after increasing the amount of fresh, unprocessed produce in their diets:
- absence of eye, ear, nose, throat or sinus infections
- increased energy and attention spans
- enhanced ability to process information
- a heightened sense of ease, comfort, harmony, and perception
- less hyperactivity
- strengthened immunity
- enhanced athletic capability
- increased brainpower and intellectual curiosity
- emotional poise
- a greater range of expressivity
So in this article I would like to share with you some of the many creative tips I learned along the way to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables.
1. Try different textures. For example, a child may not like green leafy vegetables in a salad but may enjoy them in green smoothies, juices, soups or dips.
2. Keep fruits and vegetables around the kitchen in pretty baskets and brightly coloured bowls. Children will find the varied colours of the foods in their everyday environment attractive.
3. Name the foods you make with lively or catchy titles. My kids created their own recipes, even from the time they were very little, and then gave names to the recipes. For example, BAT (banana, apple and a scoop of tahini) was a cereal which worked very well at replacing the processed packaged cereals, and became a family favourite.
4. Kids love using equipment. A saladacco for making veggie pasta; a snow cone maker for making ices from fresh fruit juice for a special birthday party treat; a small juicer (such as The Healthy Juicer); a mini food processor; the Champion Juicer for making all sorts of recipes, especially banana ice cream; and a dehydrator for making crackers, veggie burgers and chips at low temperatures to preserve the quality of the food.
5. Play “Health Food Restaurant” – let your kids be the chefs! Your children will love setting up counters and preparing smoothies, juices, fruit or veggie platters, guacamole, coleslaw, and beautiful salads. My children often used a doorway as their ideal place to set up their restaurant. The ironing board or a small table was the counter. Even when we travelled, we bought food for them to prepare meals for us in our hotel room, and my husband and I would be the customers, paying them for our meals!
6. Kids love dips! I observe so many children eating their green leaves (such as kale, Romaine lettuce and spinach) and other veggies while delighting in home-made dips made from fruits, vegetables and herbs such as basil, cilantro (coriander) or dill, and nuts and seeds.
7. Kids adore attractive food designs that display a picture. For example, a half inch thick pineapple circle can be used to make the “sun” and a bowl of orange sections makes the sun’s rays. I have used a heart-shaped stainless steel cake pan to prepare special raw treats for Valentine’s Day. I purchased different ridge-shaped cutters to make decorative trims on cucumbers, cantaloupes, peppers and carrots. Children like interesting and fun designs in food, so why not use these tools for making fun shapes with raw foods? It is also easy to find many different cookie cutter shapes and holiday designs for making cookies, cakes and other treats.
8. Use of puppetry with young children is an excellent way to introduce them to fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables and to playfully encourage discussion of healthful living topics.
9. Travelling with your children provides an excellent learning experience and creates family bonding time. We were always able to find fruits and vegetables during our travels to Central and South America and Europe. It was exciting to look up and identify specific fruits or vegetables in the book Fruits and Vegetables of the World by Michel Viard and then locate them in the market at each new destination.
Karen Ranzi is the author of Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods, available at her excellent Super Healthy Children website or on Amazon.