Sneaky but simple ways get your kids to eat fruit and veg
Sneaky but simple ways get your kids to eat fruit and veg

Meal time is battle time in many households with parents striving to give their kids nutritious food and their little carnivore/carbivore/treativore flatly refusing anything that vaguely resembles 'healthy' - no matter how hungry she is.

While conventional wisdom dictates ignoring mealtime tantrums and serving the (torturous) rejected food as usual, there are ways you can make these unmentionable foods appealing for young palates.

7 fruity ideas

Getting kids to eat a whole piece of fruit is like asking them to eat a small round stone. Try these tips for giving them their daily serve of fruit.

  • Kids love anything frozen. You can buy frozen berries from the supermarket and these can make a great snack for little ones to graze on. Serve them with a dollop of yoghurt, and they also make a healthy yummy treat.
  • Some sorbets are made from real fruit and are a healthy alternative to ice-cream – just check the label to make sure real fruit (and not fruit juice) is used in the ingredients though.
  • Make your own fruit smoothies by pulping seasonal fresh fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, peaches) in a blender. Add just enough juice or milk to make it liquid, and a little honey to sweeten the deal. Serve in a tall plastic glass with a thick and fun colourful straw.
  • Serve dried fruit as finger-food instead of biscuits and crackers.
  • You can sneak in all sorts of dried fruit in fruit cake: start with a conventional Christmas fruit cake recipe, but double the quantity of dried fruit (in addition to the raisins and cherries, add other dried fruits such as apricots, peaches, mango, banana, cranberries, currants and strawberries). Replace 75% of the recipe’s butter with the same quantity of apple sauce.
  • Use avocado instead of butter or margarine to spread on sandwiches.
  • Hide berries, grated apple and pulped banana in mini-pancakes or pikelets.

7 ways to sneak in vegetables

Most kids turn up their nose at the sight of any green on their plate. Try these hints for sneaking vegies into their diets. 

  • You’ve heard the idea of serving raw vegetables with a dip, and it took you only one try to realise that a child can eat an entire bowl of dip using a single carrot stick (without biting into the stick even once). So how about reversing things: make a vegetable home dip (cooked mashed pumpkin or cauliflower, avocado) and allow your child to dip healthy crackers, bagel chips or toast sticks in it.
  • Always include at least one vegetable in a savoury sandwich filling: grated raw carrot, a slice of tomato or cucumber, a small lettuce leaf, a pinch of shredded cabbage.
  • Make lettuce more appealing for young taste buds by serving it with a mild creamy dressing (or vinaigrette for those who like it sour).
  • Cook with your child. Boil two cups chopped pumpkin and two cups chopped potato in 4 cups of stock until cooked, let it cool. Even a three year old can help you liquidise it with an electric handheld stick blender. They will usually ask to lick the stick (remember to remove the blade first), and, if you’re lucky, they’ll want to eat the soup, too!
  • Kids love potato chips, so instead of serving them deep fried heart attacks, try oven-baking pumpkin or sweet potato and serving them as ‘French fries’.
  • Veggies don't have to be just a savoury food. Think carrot cake and sweet recipes that include zucchini and other vegies in the ingredients list. You're kids won't even blink an eyelid.
  • Hide chopped or blended vegetables in fritters, savoury muffins, pizza toppings or mince balls.

Find more relevant articles on kids eating habits:

This article was written by Yvonne Eve Walus for Kidspot, New Zealand's best resource for family health.

Last revised: Wednesday, 19 March 2014

This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.

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