Getting children to eat more fruit and vegetables can often be a challenge.
Nick has 10 top tips on how to encourage children to eat more of them and furthermore, how to enjoy doing it:
1. Firstly, don't stress (easier said than done, I know). No child is going to eat every kind of fruit and veg under the sun.
Nor would any adult - but we don't generally label adults as fussy eaters because of it. Even if your children only enjoy one or two specific fruits or vegetables, that is still much better than nothing, so embrace their choice and make things using their preferred choices. Their tastes will develop as they grow older.
2. Help your children to connect with where their fruit and veg comes from. Take them shopping with you, let them pick out the things they like the look of. Better still, grow some of your own in your back garden. When my children know what they are eating - and where it comes from - they are always more likely to eat it.
3. Get your children into the kitchen with you and let them join in with the preparation. A mixture of self-pride and curiosity means they are much more likely to eat food they have been involved in preparing. An easy recipe like Viva Strawberries' Home Time Snack of Fruit Kebabs with Strawberry Milk is perfect for kids to try.
4. I am not an advocate of "hiding" fruit and veg but, at the same time, there are some great ways of making them less visible. Simple savoury muffins can take all manner of fillings, as can scones - and both are very easy to make at home. Also, a good tomato pasta sauce base (just one onion, a couple of cloves of garlic and a tin of chopped tomatoes) is a great thing to chuck almost any vegetables into.
5. Enjoy home-made cakes and sweet things! I am a firm believer that home-made cakes and treats are good. You know exactly what is in them, there are no nasty additives and children love cake. A simple Victoria sponge, topped with some whipped cream and Viva strawberries is a great way of getting fruit into your children's diets. It doesn't matter that the strawberries are on a cake - they are still strawberries, they still contain wonderful goodness and they are still being eaten by your children.
6. Dips are a great way of making vegetables more fun. Both my children love hummus. There is just something fun about dipping and scooping. Serve them with carrot or cucumber sticks.
7. My children are always more likely to eat a wider variety of things when they are hungry. If you offer them a mid-morning snack or after school snack, offer them chopped fruit in a bowl, or vegetable batons to nibble. Their need for food will outweigh their reticence at what they are eating.
8. It is important to try to be a role model to your children. You are the one they are learning from. If they see you enjoying fruit and veg without fuss, they will often try to emulate that. Parents with a healthy attitude around food are more likely to have children with a healthy attitude. Parents who are faddy and on and off diets may be giving their children the wrong message.
9. Be smooth. All children love a milkshake so blitz up some fresh ones at home. Or for extra cold refreshment, blitz up a mix of frozen red fruit (for example Viva strawberries, blackberries and raspberries) and pour in some fresh yogurt and a drizzle of honey for some instant frozen yoghurt.
10. Try to ignore their attempts to wind you up. It is important to steer clear of the games and control battles which kids get involved in around food. It's obvious why - they know how important we think it is for them to be well-fed and they know how wound up we can get about it. Just ignore the games, turn a blind eye (no matter how counter intuitive that will feel) and you may be surprised how quickly they get bored of the game and turn their attention to other things - such as actually eating!
Nick on Viva Strawberries:
"I have always thought of strawberries as one of the cleverest and most ideal fruits for children. I mean, they even come with their own green "handle" attached to the top for extra easy 'grabability'! They are the perfect size and shape for finger food when weaning your babies as they are easy to grip and equally easy to chomp and chew on. They are a natural way for young children to get energy boosting sugars into their system and are also very good for their digestion. Plus they are an incredibly versatile fruit to have in your fridge as they work either as a snack in their own right or dipped in cream or yoghurt, sprinkled with sugar or even dunked in melted chocolate. Their natural sweetness makes them instantly appealing to children, and with imported varieties like Viva strawberries, your kids can enjoy sweet, juicy and full of flavour strawberries outside the traditional British season too."
Information and photograph courtesy of Viva Strawberry