It is finally March, the gateway to spring. And it is also National Nutrition Month, 30 whole days dedicated to educating consumers and improving nutrition for all aspects of life. This years’ theme, “Eat Right With Color”, is a great one to introduce nutrition to children.
We have seen “ Eat The Rainbow” and similar campaigns designed to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our daily diets. The hardest part is to turn the message into action. Most of us with children have something about our children that frustrates us, especially when it comes to food. My particular frustration is consuming, or lack of consuming, fruits and vegetables. My 6 year old won’t eat them, plain and simple. Applesauce and raisins are pretty much the extent of it. I tried making applesauce from scratch , but my attempts to add blueberries or other fruits didn’t work. He does like yogurt though, and an occasional smoothie, so I have been able to fit in some blueberries and strawberries that way, carefully making sure there are no seeds that he can find!
My child won’t eat oranges, but he loves orange juice, so juicing is an option I have been exploring lately. I always have served 100% fruit juice, usually orange or V8 Fusion, which also includes carrots and other vegetable juices. But making my own is easy, economical, and most likely more nutrient rich because it does not have to be heat processed and packaged with the vitamins added back in. So when I am adding in a few orange and yellow carrots to the orange and papaya, I am increasing his vegetable components for the day. Though I would prefer him eating the fruit itself, with the added nutrients the fiber brings, I will settle for this and try and move towards whole fruit someday. Pumpkin and sweet potatoes used to be a staple when he was a toddler, but now, I need to add them to waffles, pancakes, or muffins to insure they will be eaten.
Spring will be arriving soon, so bring on the farmers market and things will really be improving! Green vegetables are a little harder to incorporate, but that is where blueberries come in. Blend some spinach, or other greens, sweeten with blueberries or some chocolate syrup (sounds crazy but it isn’t bad) and he drinks it!
Many children love the sweetness of fruit, but dislike vegetables. Dips such as hummus, ranch dressing yogurt or even peanut butter can help, and cutting things into fun shapes can also at least entice them to try it. Another way to add vegetables is to grind them up and add them to meatballs, meatloaf, hamburgers, or hummus. If your child will eat soup, this is another quick way to up the vegetable quotient in their day. If at first (or 15th) you don’t succeed, try and try (and I know it is trying) try again!
Laura is a Montgomery County mom to a 6 year old and wife to a picky eater. She is a registered dietitian and nutritionist. Her and her family love reading, hiking and are avid Phillies baseball fans.