Is your son’s favorite vegetable the French fry, and your daughter’s favorite fruit apple juice? Do you feel like getting your kids to eat enough fruits and vegetables is a daily challenge? You are definitely not alone! In fact, only about one in five kids in the U.S. eats the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

March is National Nutrition Month, and we’re getting so close to the blossoming colors and flavors of spring, so we thought this would be the ideal time to help families discover new ways to get more healthy colors and flavors in their diet by eating more produce.

Below are some suggestions for incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet:

Corbis - Girl Eating Strawberry

– Fill half of your plate (or your child’s plate) with fruit and/or vegetables at each meal. 

– Kids love playful looking food.  Try making fruit kabobs or veggie faces on their plates with a variety of cut-up vegetables.

– Have kids count up: My kids know they are supposed to strive for 5 – 9 servings of produce a day, so sometimes at dinner I ask them how they have done that day. They like to count how many fruits and veggies they have eaten and compare who has had more.

– Try to eat a rainbow every day: It can be a fun challenge for kids to try to think of something to eat that is red, orange, yellow, green and purple/blue. (My kids love the interactive refrigerator chart and magnets from Today I Ate a Rainbow.)

– Sneak vegetables into dishes like soups and pasta sauces.  Sauté the veggies until soft and then puree them before stirring them into the dish. Or dice vegetables finely and add them to nearly any recipe, even baked goods like muffins or brownies!

– Walk a lap around your grocery store’s produce section with your kids and pick up a fruit or vegetable that you haven’t tried before.  This helps get us out of a food rut and encourages the whole family to expand their produce horizons beyond bananas and carrots.

– Find creative ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your snacks and meals all day long.  At breakfast time, drink a glass of juice and throw a handful of berries onto your breakfast cereal.  At lunch, eat a side salad and a piece of whole fruit with your sandwich.  We typically associate dinnertime with vegetables but it’s easy to incorporate fruit by adding pineapple or peaches to a barbeque meal or apricots or dried plums to a chicken dish. 

– Think outside the fruit and vegetable drawer: Did you know that nuts, beans, tomato sauce, corn, herbs, avocados, and pickles can count as part of your daily fruits and vegetables?

– Keep fruits and vegetables accessible and visible.  Keep a bag of dried fruit in your desk drawer at work and have a large bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter.  Do some prep work in advance and make it convenient for you or your kids to reach into the fridge and grab some vegetables that you have already cleaned and chopped. You can even set out a tray of veggies for pre-dinner snacking.

For more suggestions and recipes to make eating a colorful rainbow part of your kids’ daily habits and some interactive activities for kids, visit Kids Eat Right.  and www.todayiatearainbow.com/kids-zone/.

Below is one of my favorite flavorful recipes for getting seven colorful fruits, vegetables and herbs into my family’s bodies.  How do you get your family to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains? Please tell us by leaving a comment below.

This delicious stew is flavored with fresh herbs and a touch of honey, and finished with tangy goat cheese.  Serve the stew over Israeli or regular couscous.

Recipe: Rainbow Vegetable Stew

  • Prep Time: 15 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 25 min(s)
  • Total Time: 40 min(s)
  • Servings: 6 servings, about 1 1/2 cups

A colorful way to encourage kids to eat fruits and veggies!

Ingredients

    • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
    • 1 large sweet potato, diced into 1/2-inch chunks
    • 28 oz. diced tomatoes with their liquid, or 7 – 8 fresh tomatoes, diced, with their liquid
    • 16 oz. fresh or frozen cut green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds, if fresh
    • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
    • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
    • 20 fresh basil leaves, chopped, or 1 tsp. dried basil
    • salt
    • 1 Tbsp. honey
    • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese for serving (optional)

Instructions

    • In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the sweet potatoes and tomatoes and bring it to a low boil.
    • Reduce the heat, partially cover and simmer the mixture for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (Meanwhile, prepare the couscous, if you are making it.)  Add the green beans and herbs and simmer it for 10 more minutes.
    • Stir in the salt and honey.  Serve it immediately, topped with crumbled feta cheese (optional), or refrigerate it for up to 2 days, or freeze it for up to 3 months.  Add the feta when you are ready to serve it.

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  • Alice Currah

    I love the idea of eating a rainbow!

  • http://thechurchcook.blogspot.com/ Kay @ The Church Cook

    It is a quite a challenge to get my children to eat enough of fruit and veggies. I often will place cut veggies before dinner time so they will snack on them while they are hungry. :) Lovely recipe, Aviva!

  • Marina

    That stew looks fantastic! Nice and colourful! Yum!!!

  • Rashda/@SpiceBites

    Sorry, I’m not at all into sneaking things into foods…but more into making fruits and veggies an open and exciting parts of our daily lives. I discuss nutrition with them all the time and we try out new foods as a family.

  • Archana Sunil

    My kids tend to like crunchy vegetables. So I often toss kale, spinach and other veggies in the broiler for a few mins and season with simple salt and pepper. works as a great snack most times. And then there are days when only pudding sounds good and nothing else. On those days I’ll eat the cruncy veggies!

  • http://www.momsinspirelearning.com Dawn Morris

    Thank you for bringing up such an important subject! The two words that stick out the most for me in this post are “playful” and “creative.” Children love to cook, and colorful fruits and vegetables are fun to work with.

    Here’s another idea: use picture books as a springboard for all kinds of learning connections and activities. That way, families can share quality time and grow healthy eaters and avid readers at the same time.

  • http://blogstew.net/foodfrenzy Food Frenzy

    All great ideas. Love the stew.

    We invite you to share this post and some of your favorite food posts on Food Frenzy.
    Please check out our community at http://blogstew.net/foodfrenzy

  • http://www.center2b.com pongsaton paiboonkean

    I love the idea thank you for bringing up such an important subject.
    All great ideas!

  • http://www.drmatzer.com Los Angeles Cardiologist

    I agree that it is very difficult to get kids to eat vegetables. It is important for parents to be role models for kids and also eat a healthful diet. Your recipe also seems like it is something that adults could enjoy.

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  • Aviva Goldfarb

    LAC, this stew is definitely a recipe for the whole family! I agree that parents need to be good role models for kids when it comes to eating well and many other things. Thanks for chiming in!

  • http://www.feedourfamiliesblog.com Gina

    Great article and tips for eating more vegetables! It’ s so important that we help our kids try new ones so that they can get their necessary nutrients right from food. Having great recipes, like this stew, is really helpful! We add a variety of veggies into stir fries for the easiest way to include them in a meal.

    Having fresh fruit & veggies around the house when hunger strikes is key too!
    http://www.feedourfamilies.com/6-tips-to-eat-a-rainbow-of-fruits-vegetables.html

  • http://cleanerplateclub.com BethBader

    Nice recipe! Tips we have in our book for getting kids to eat veggies expand on many of these same ideas. Also, HOW you cook the vegetable has a lot to do with if kids eat it. Using a touch of sweet or cheese can help overcome barriers. Dips are fun. Cutting food into fun shapes can work, or giving it fun names. I think psychology of presentation and role modeling (parents eat and enjoy the food) are the biggest key to NOT fighting over food. http://cleanerplateclub.com

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  • Emily

    I have to say, I was doubtful about this recipe. . . but when the temps dropped this weekend, we gave it a shot. It was delicious!! And, while both kids picked out one veggie each (DD – tomato chunks, DS – green beans), they enjoyed the flavors and had seconds. Thanks!

    • Aviva Goldfarb

      I’m so glad your family enjoyed the stew, Emily! Thanks for dropping by and letting me know.

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  • http://www.busyworkingmama.com BusyWorkingMama

    Sounds delicious! I bet the fresh basil gives it a very good flavor. I’m blessed with a veggie lover!