Here are a few of the ideas I have on how to get your kids to love amazing, fresh, healthy, vitamin-rich FRESH fruits and vegetables.
I never really thought about this until I got remarried and my new ( amazing ) husband started eating dinner with us while we were dating. I had 5 children and he had none. My kids were ranging in age from 15 to 6 years old. We came home from the grocery store and we had a bag of mini snickers and a carton of fresh mushrooms, (among other things). My kids ran up to see what was coming home from the store, and they were all chirping in "Can we open the mushrooms?" They proceeded to open them, rub them clean, then salt them an eat them. Jeff was dumb-founded. He could not believe they went for those in excitement, especially when there were SNICKERS RIGHT THERE!
He continued to be amazed when we had meals that featured many fresh fruits and vegies and the kids ATE THEM. He would say "ewww" once in a while, but tried the dished and realized that they were not to bad. I actually have him "trained" now to like almost all of them, and if he doesn't he is quiet about it and still dishes up and eats:) DONT ever tell him I told you this, he will deny it.
Here are a few tips:
1. YOU are the best example. Show the kids that your favorite foods include these healthy delicious treats. It really isn't more expensive if you eat in season. Buy your fresh, succulent watermelon in august, straight off the vine. Share your love for fresh peas, asparagus and tender radishes out of the garden in spring. The apples and oranges and fresh pineapple are wonderful in december.
2. I have always had a garden. The kids have grown up planting the little seeds, watching them grow, and picking the vegies and eating them out of the garden when they are small. I think to this day, most of our snap peas have ever made it into the house. My kids eat them off the vine. Warm little cherry tomatoes as well. Even yesterday, my 18 year old son went out to the garden, picked himself some radishes and brought them in, chopped them up and ate them like candy. The kids have a sense of pride when they spot the first zucchini or bring in the carrots that have grown long andare so sweet. (Jordan still wont eat the carrots with multiple "legs"). If you live in an apartment, you can grow pots of bush tomatoes, chard, and herbs...dont let it stop you. My older kids who have moved out STILL raid the garden...they will get a bag and fill it with spinach, chard, cucumbers, kale, snap peas, carrots, tomatoes, kohlrabi, fresh green beans, etc...I love to share and I am so happy they still love good food.
3. When you are grocery shopping, make the produce section special. Instead of telling the kids they can have some candy for being good, let them know that they can take turns picking out a fun new (or old favorite) fruit or vegetable for the family to try. My kids have chosen cumquats, brussel sprouts, dragon-fruit, star-fruit, golden beets, white asparagus and tiny red bananas to name a few. They think that these are the treats, and they really are.
4. DONT overcook vegies until soggy and bland. Simple sautéing, grilling and accenting the flavor of the vegetable or fruit is important. Fresh pineapple does not need to be drowned in heavy whipping cream to be sweet and amazing. A quick steam on asparagus and a squeeze of lemon is amazing.
5. Let your kids cook with you. I LOVE to know that every one of my kids is an AMAZING COOK. Let them experiment with different herbs or spices than you have used. TEACH them how to make a soup, how to grill, what the basic ingredients are for many dishes. I have lots of sous chefs, and sometimes I AM the sous chef. I love it, they love it (most of the time), and you are spending quality time with those kids that is something you can always cherish, and they can take the skills on with them. (Plus, I get an incredible birthday dinner every year that THEY COOK!) You just cant beat that!