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Sneaky Ways to Get More Vegetables in Your Family's Nightly Meals

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Sneaky Ways to Get More Vegetables in Your Family's Nightly Meals

September is “Fruits and Veggies- More Matters Month!” More than 90 percent of adults and children don’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.

If you've heard the adage "five is fine, but nine is divine," it's referring to the number of daily servings of fruits and vegetables. If you’re concerned that your family may not be getting enough, an easy way to accomplish this is to “sneak” extra vegetables into your meals.

Veggie Power: Benefits of More Vegetables for Your Kids

  • Better performance at school: routinely eating fruits and vegetables may improve academic performance. 
  • Physical activity: a healthy eating plan with a variety of fruits and vegetables will help fuel better performance.
  • Digestive health: constipation can be a problem in children, so the high fiber content of fruits and vegetables can promote healthy digestion.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University pureed broccoli and cauliflower into the pasta sauces in some of the school lunches of 61 children aged 3-5. The group of children who consumed the sauce with the vegetables ate 17 percent fewer calories and significantly more vegetables compared to the group who ate the higher calorie pasta dish. They also noticed that neither group preferred one pasta sauce over the other; they were both equally liked by the kids!

How to Add Extra Veggies

  • Top their favorite pizza with vegetables
  • Add shredded or diced veggies into casseroles
  • Mix carrots or zucchini into breads and muffins
  • Throw a few handfuls of spinach into their favorite fruit smoothie
  • Try a vegetarian chili
  • Puree a few or extra veggies into their favorite sauces and soups

Getting extra vegetables can be simple! By including more vegetables your child will be consistently exposed to them and may learn to like them better. Research shows that providing children with vegetables on a regular basis increases their consumption. It may take 10-15 times to “re-try” new vegetables (and other foods, too) before they adapt to eating them, so practice patience and persistence!

More Tips to Raise Veggie-Loving Kids

  • Try new recipes. See recipes from Cooper Clinic here.
  • Introduce one new vegetable each week.
  • Get your kids involved in picking out and preparing vegetable dishes.
  • Last but not least, set a good example. If you eat your veggies, your kids are more likely to eat them too!

Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Department.