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9 Ways To Sneak Some Extra Fruits And Vegetables In Your Family's Diet

We all know by now that we should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. In Australia, the recommendation is for 10. Ours in the UK is set at 5 a day because that’s what the powers that be think is achievable. I’m with the Australians on this.

I know you know we should be eating more veg. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they?

Veg can be an effort sometimes. In our house, there are ‘HMVs’. High Maintenance Vegetables. These are things like Brussels sprouts, green beans from the veg box (they’re not all neatly lined up with the stalks at the same end to be chopped off in one slice), butternut squash. HMVs exist in my husband’s head only. For me, they are worth the prep because of the nutrition they contain, and frankly it doesn’t take that long to peel sprouts.

The ready-prepped sprouts contain less goodness because they’ve been prepped. Veg starts to loose it’s nutrition the moment it’s harvested. Cutting & slicing further reduces the beneficial phytonutrients available.

Sometimes it is just not easy to get enough veg into everyone in the house. If your family is anything like mine, they’ll choose crisps or biscuits over apples and cherry tomatoes (which make a very good snack). So we’ll have to get creative.

Here are a few ideas to “sneak” some extra vegetables and fruits into the people you love.

1. Start the day with a breakfast smoothie.

All you have to do is throw some fruits, full fat yogurt into a blender. You may also want to add a tablespoon of shelled hemp seeds for protein we need at every meal (hemp seeds are a great alternative to protein powder btw). Just blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast ready to go. I like to add healthy extras like Supergreens powders, Acai berry powder, maca, or raw cacao.

2. Grow your own – with the kids.

There are heaps of health benefits of growing your own, not least that you actually get to eat nearly all the good stuff because you’re harvesting & eating immediately (as opposed to buying from the supermarket where those ‘fresh’ veg may have been sitting in cold storage for weeks after having been harvested the week before, prepared then imported from another country). Mangetout are super-easy to grow and are sweet enough to be eaten straight off the plant.

3. I’m not a fan of sandwiches.

However, I am a fan of reality checks, and the reality is many kids have sandwiches for their lunch (mine included). Top peanut butter on toast with strawberries or raspberries. Fill out a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and anything else they will eat. You can even make a sub shop style vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with some mayonnaise and cheese on bread.

4. Have a salad bar at dinner.

Set out a variety of chopped vegetables, some cheese and croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing along with the lettuce and let everybody create their own perfect salad. You do need to set the expectation that everyone has a decent serving & variety of ‘the good stuff’.

5. Try this for dessert.

Peel some bananas, break into chunks & freeze. Then blitz in your Nutribullet with some raw cacao. It’s ice cream right there!

6. Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks.

You can cut apples into slices and top them with almond butter or cheese. Cube cheese and serve with grapes. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with hummus. And of course there’s ants on a log. Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins on it (wow, fruit and vegetable in one snack).

7. Try some new fruits and vegetables.

Pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. With a little luck their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to trying something new. Try purple carrots, mini cucumbers, watermelon slices, or papaya (transformed by a squeeze of fresh lemon juice), mangos from India or Pakistan are a far cry from the dry hairy mangos commonly available – you’ll have to go to a green grocer or Asian supermarket for these, but they are readily available in season once you know where. They really are worth seeking out. If you haven’t had mango juice dribbling down your arms all the way to your elbows, you haven’t had a mango worth eating!

8. Make a pot of vegetable & lentil soup or a stew that’s heavy on veggies and easy on the meat.

They make great comfort food.

9. Let them eat lettuce!

The trick is to make a sweet salad dressing (salad without dressing is boring). Here is a classic vinaigrette recipe with some honey added to make it much more palatable. As your kids become accustomed to eating salad, you can dial back the honey. Starting them on the crispy stem of Kos lettuce is another great way to get them eating lettuce. It’s crunchy & juicy.

Vinaigrette keeps for ages in the fridge, so I always make a full jar to use through the week – it’s a good way to get that 30ml (2 tbs) of olive oil a day we need to protect our cardiovascular systems. You may find the oil & vinegar separate over time & it needs a shake again. Shop bought vinaigrettes don’t separate because they have emulsifiers in them. I’d rather shake my jam jar – emulsifiers are linked to gut inflammation and bowel cancer. If you want a thinner vinaigrette that holds together longer, add some water & then blend in a nutribullet/ with a hand blender. It’ll stay together for ages that way, and you can use it to add goodness to your salad every day.

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