It can be hard to get kids to eat fruit and veg, and even harder to know if they’re getting the right amount. Today, nutritionist Aoife Carey breaks it down for us, offering us handy solutions and hints to get your kids to eat fruit and veg.
What Is A Kid-Size Portion of Fruit?
Under 5 5 years +
¼ or ½ apple or banana ½ apple or banana
¼- ½ pear or mandarin 1 kiwi, mandarin or pear
2 tbsp avocado 2 cherry tomatoes
3-6 small grapes/ berries 9 grapes
1 tbsp raisins 1 mandarin or orange
1 thin slice melon 2 tbsp raisins
6 slices of kiwi
- Porridge oats/ Ready Brek
- Small glass (100mls) orange juice
A bowl of porridge is a great start to the day for adults and kids. It’s full of fibre, low in fat, contains slow releasing energy and keeps you feeling full throughout the morning. It’s also quick and easy to make. You can add lots of fruits to porridge to keep it interesting and increase your fruit intake- stewed apple, frozen berries, chopped banana, raisin or dried cranberries. Fruit juice is full of vitamins but it is also high in sugar. Keep it to one small glass a day!
- Wholemeal toast with scrambled egg
Choosing wholemeal and brown bread is a healthier option then white bread. They contain more fibre and keeps kids feeling fuller longer. Eating protein at breakfast can also keep kids feeling fuller longer. Scrambled or boiled eggs are a great breakfast option.
- Wholemeal pitta with chicken, tomatoes and grated carrot
Pitta breads make a great lunch box addition. You can pick up wholemeal options in all shops now. Stuff them with lots of salad, veg (chopped peppers, cucumber, grated carrots) and ham/cheese/tuna/chicken. Instead of mayo or butter try using some hummus or mashed avocado. Throw a couple of cherry tomatoes into your kids lunchboxes to.
- Bacon and Egg sandwiches
Use wholemeal, rye, brown, granary bread options. Grill some rashers until crispy, remove all visible fat and chop roughly. Boil some eggs before mashing with a finely chopped tomato and onion, crispy bacon and a tsp of low fat mayo. Try finely chopping some lettuce, rocket or spinach and mixing through the filling mix to.
- Pitta pizzas
One for the weekends- toast a pitta before spreading a teaspoon of tomato puree, ketchup or pesto on one side. Top with some chopped peppers, ham, mushrooms and some grated cheese. Grill until cheese is bubbling!
This is a nutritious, filling and healthy lunch. Tomatoes are high in vitamin C and A and high in lycopene- all important for keeping you and your immune system healthy. Lentils are a great source of protein, fibre and B vitamins. They are also cheap and easy to cook. This soup will freeze well and can be defrosted in the microwave.
Making homemade pasta sauces is a great way of adding some veg to your kids diet- especially if you have a fussy eater. This is an ideal pasta sauce that can be blended till smooth so kids shouldn’t be able to find any vegetables! You can add lots of vegetables to pasta sauces- courgettes, carrots, red peppers, onions, whole tomatoes and mushrooms can all be blended to a smooth sauce.
Bolognese sauces are fantastic for adding in some veg. Try chopping mushrooms really finely before adding to sauce. Grated carrot or courgette can also be added in. Sweet potato is a great alternative topping for cottage pie. Try boiling sweet potato and butternut squash together before mashing- a highly nutritious pie topping. You can also add frozen peas or sweet corn to cottage pie to increase the amount of veg.
Meatballs are a great family meal. Use highly quality beef or pork. You can add onion, garlic, grated carrot or courgette, sweetcorn or chopped spinach to the meatball mix. Add lots of extra veg (peppers, onion, courgette, fresh tomatoes) to your sauce before blending till smooth. Make in batches and freeze for a quick dinner.
- Wholemeal apple and carrot muffins
- Smoothies (see below)
- Grapes with cubed cheese
- Veggie sticks (peppers, cucumber, celery) with hummus
- Homemade vegetable soup
- Natural yogurt with berries
- Cherry tomatoes
- Rice cake with mashed banana
Encourage your kids to eat fruit as a routine snack and keep a stash in the house and in the car for a quick snack when on the go. Bananas, apples, oranges, grapes or pears are handy, easy to eat snacks. Try throwing a snack pack of berries for school breaks- blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are all good options. If your kids look for something sweet after dinner- make fruit the go to dessert. Frozen fruit is also just as nutritious as fresh fruit. There are lots of great options such as frozen berries, mango and pineapple! You can add these to porridge, yogurts or smoothies or eat them as they are. Keep trying!! It can take up to 12 tastes of a new food to get used to the flavour and texture so encourage kids to have one taste of a new food each time you offer it.
Smoothies and juices
Green super smoothie– spinach, frozen pineapple, apple, kiwi, cucumber, water and lime juice (I swear you can’t taste the spinach or cucumber!)
Berry goodness – Frozen berries, orange, a dash of apple juice, natural yogurt (You can add a handful of oats or chia seeds to make this a more filling smoothie for breakfast on the go).
Orange delight– Oranges, carrots, water, ginger (A really refreshing juice for a sunny day!)
Dr. Aoife Carey is registered dietitian and clinical researcher. Having completed a degree in Dietetics in Northern Ireland she pursued her interest in childhood nutrition by obtaining a PhD in paediatric nutrition in 2012. As a keen runner and weightlifter she is passionate about the role nutrition can play in optimising health.
Over the next few weeks we will be discussing many exciting nutrition topics for you and your family. If you have any questions or topics you’d like to see discussed please contact us at [email protected]