Fruit is a very satisfying treat; not only does it provide nutrients but that dose of fructose calms a sweet tooth. But do you still struggle to get your kids to enjoy fruit? Getting them to fall in love with nature’s candy is a battle worth your effort: a new study found that fresh fruit-eating adults had a lower risk of heart attack and stroke than those who rarely ate fresh fruit. You can learn more about this study, which followed a cohort of 500,000 adults over 7 years. The study was conducted in China, where the consumption of fresh fruit on a daily basis is more uncommon. Investigators wonder if encouraging more people to eat fresh fruit every day would have an impact.
Fresh fruit offers many beneficial nutrients; it is a source of antioxidants, beneficial fibre and potassium along with various vitamins. Making it a part of your diet, and a mainstay in your kid’s daily consumption, helps stabilize blood sugars and keep cravings for processed sugar at bay. It can also fill up hungry tummies and paired with protein, it makes for a very well-rounded snack.
What fruits do your kids love? Some are an easier sell than others. I like encouraging my girls to choose new fruits to try, and make this same effort myself. When was the last time you ate a kumquat? Today’s the day!
We know that getting your kids to eat the fresh stuff that’s good for them is sometimes a challenge. So we have rounded up 4 creative ways to get more fruits into your kids. Try some of these ideas, and share some of your own!
Fresh fruit on a stick is so much more exciting than fresh fruit in a bowl or still attached to the core! Slice a variety of fruits – pineapple, apple, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, pear, grapes – and place on a skewer, one piece at a time. Create a beautiful array of colours by mixing up the chunks. A colourful fruit kebab is not only delicious, but fun and visually appealing.
Of course, kebabs are best for older children who know how to handle a potentially sharp object. Younger kids can still enjoy the playfulness of a kebab when mom or dad arranges the fruit pieces into fun little shapes and cut-outs.
Fruit with Yummy Yogurt Dip
Up the fun factor and include a healthy and delicious yogurt dip with an array of cut fruit. Try your own take on this basic recipe: mix plain full fat greek yogurt with fruit puree and enough honey to provide a little bit of sweet. Kids will love the opportunity to dip their fruit, and you are providing them with healthy calcium and fats.
A Fruit Surprise
One of my favourite tricks for getting my daughters to try new food was to hide it under a bowl, and play with the surprise of discovery to encourage them to try new things. You can do the same – place something yummy on top of the bowl and ask them to finish that and then turn over the bowl for their surprise. Or try a variation: at the grocery store ask your child to pick a new fruit they haven’t yet tried. You can give them a specific colour to find, or just leave it open. They may not love what they chose, but they will be encouraged to try it because they played a part in bringing it to the table.
Dried fruit is another way to get the nutrients into bellies. Our family loves this recipe for fruit roll-ups or fruit leather. Unlike the stuff you buy in the grocery store, which is processed and laden with sugar, these fruit roll-ups are 100% fruit (and nothing else) and 100% delicious.
Home Made Fruit Leather
1 – 2 lbs dried fruit; mango, pineapple, raisins, dates, apricots, blueberry and cherry
1. Pulse and process in a food processor until it’s a smooth(ish) puree or collects together in a ball.
2. Place onto parchment paper and put another piece on top. With a rolling pin, start to flatten it and roll it out until it’s about 3-4 mm thick. Use a metal spreading knife if needed to get it going.
3. Bake in the oven at 150 C (my oven only goes down to 170 C) for four to five hours or until it has dried out but is still bendy.
4. Cool and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes or squares and store in an air tight container.
Remember to get that toothbrush out after chowing down on these tasty treats!
Encourage your kids to try new fruits but also to re-visit ones that they may have previously turned down. Their taste buds and interests are constantly changing. And if they want to stick with a few solid favourites, that’s ok too. Aim for balance in their diet when you can but know that when you are offering healthy options, you are doing a very good job.