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under5s - Fun with Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and Vegetable Fun !

It is really important to introduce children to fruit and vegetables early on in their diet. As a society we are becoming increasing aware of the importance of having 5 different portions of fruit and vegetables each day, and for some this is really difficult. 

Count up how many portions you had in the last week - was it 35?

It is much easier to open a packet of biscuits then to offer children a healthy snack that takes time to prepare, but by making that time, you are helping the children to develop a healthier lifestyle and enabling them to make healthier choices as they get older. By providing a fruit or vegetable snack, you are introducing children to a wider variety of food, sneaking in 1 of the 5 recommend daily portions and giving your child an energy boost full of natural sugars and vitamins.

Reluctant Eaters 

Not everyone is willing to try, so it is up to you to make fruit and vegetables fun and to think about why you child is refusing to eat, possible ideas are:

  • You don't eat it .
  • They are not hungry.
  • If they wait long enough, moan loud enough they will get an alternative - honestly if you had a choice between a fresh baked doughnut and a carrot stick with your morning coffee - what would you choose?
  • They are not sure what it is or what to do with it
  • They don't like trying new things.
Top tips for successful healthy eaters
  1. Be a great model - eat some yourself and enjoy it.
  2. Provide the opportunity for children to eat fruit and vegetables with other children, perhaps take some grapes along to toddler group or into preschool to share instead of a packet of biscuits - I am certain no one will object, and your child may well copy what the others are doing. It may take more than one week though !
  3. Involve your child in the preparation - you could make some of the simple recipes below, let your child choose or even pick their own - now that really is exciting!
  4. Have a go at growing your own to eat - if you want instant results try mung beans or cress, or perhaps have a competition to grow the biggest cucumber or a magic marrow. (If you carefully cut the skin of a young marrow, then the design will grow with it - we have had ones that have grown with the childrens' name on - and then they have to eat it, as it was grown just for them).
  5. If they don't want it, don't worry about it - be persistent and try again another day, but don't offer an alternative. If they do eat it, even just a tiny bit, comment on how well you think they are doing, and how clever they are and how pleased you are with their achievement. 
  6. Make it fun... raisins in boxes make a great portable snack, perhaps you could hide them as treasure and hunt them out, or even great prizes for good behaviour.
  7. Eat in different locations - a banana on the bus may taste much more exciting than one indoors. 
  8. Offer variety - try different versions of the same fruit, prepare it differently, and serve it in different containers - don't forget to experiment with fresh, frozen, dried and tined fruit and vegetables.
  9. Play with fruit and vegetables - get children to use to handling them - provide realistic fruit and vegetables for them to play with in the home corner, with pots, pans and plates so they can create their own meals - or chop up the real things, dip it in paint and experiment with design.
  10. Have a competition - who can eat the most portions of fruit and vegetables in a week, and make a certificate for the winner! You can download one here!
Fruit Kebabs
A Selection of fresh fruit - apple, pears, melon, grapes, strawberries, satsumas, kiwi, mango all washed and cut into chunks and a wooden skewer per portion.
Present the fruit in different bowls. Encourage the children to name the fruit and carefully push it onto the skewers - supervise this activity at all times. Encourage the children to make a fruit pattern, to put 10 pieces of fruit on, or one of each kind.
Dried Fruit
    Experiment with dried fruit - raisins (come in all different shapes and sizes), apricots, banana chips, dried strawberries, apple rings etc.
Try sorting them into groups or designing an edible picture, comparing them to the undried version - do they taste the same?
Vegetable Sticks and Dip
    A selection of vegetable slices - carrot, celery, coloured pepper, cucmber. Homemade Dip - use natural yogurt and add some fresh herbs, some fruit sauce, a spash of ketchup, some chillie powder - the choice is yours!
Encourage the children to choose different vegetables to dip into the sauce. Compare sizes - which is longest, a stick or carrot or a piece of cucumber - how can you make it shorter?
Circle Bites
Pick a shape and plan the snack to take on that shape
You could introduce everthing that is circle shaped - round slices of carrot, slices of cucumber apple rings, melon balls, cherries and then on a different occasion you could cube everything and challenge the children to try squares of fruit and vegetables - do they taste the same?
Homemade Yogurt
Choose some soft fruits, and buy or make some natural yoghurt and have a go at making your own flavoured yogurts.
Encourage the children to think about what colour it will be, what it might taste like, and what the lumps are in the yogurt... add fresh or defrosted fruit, mix it up and talk about how it changes in colour and taste.

Helen Renouf

under5s -  Fun with Fruit and Vegetables
home> Fun with Fruit and Vegetables