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Monday, February 6,2012

Make fruits fun for kids

Many parents can attest to the challenges in encouraging children to eat healthily, including incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables into their daily diets.

Children tend to become picky eaters for a number of reasons, according to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Some children are just naturally more sensitive to taste, texture and smell of some foods. Others may learn their picky eating from parents who pick and choose among their meals. Still other children learn to be selective through bribes and punishments around mealtime.

However, there needn’t been fussing and feuding over food choices, particularly produce, when parents employ a few creative ideas to entice children to dig into healthy foods.

1. Ask for your child’s help

Have your child ride along to the grocery store and take an active role into picking out healthy foods that he or she may be willing to try. Most nutrition experts find that if children take in interest in what they will be eating, and are instrumental in making some choices, they will have a higher rate of eating those meals and foods.

2. Understand your child’s eating habits

Some children will eat the crown of broccoli but leave aside the stems. There are kids that will eat anything as long as it’s dunked in ketchup. They may enjoy pears as long as they are cut up into pieces with the skin removed. Pay attention to how your child likes to eat the food and present it that way. It could mean fewer arguments at the dinner table.

3. Explore new flavor combinations

Oftentimes mixing certain flavor combinations can entice children to eat foods they may have never considered trying. Just think about the popularity of fruit juices mixed with vegetable purees. Some children have an inclination toward favorite flavors or just can benefit from a little variety, which can sometimes prove challenging when produce is out of season.

4. Try creative presentations

Simply presenting the foods in a unique way can make them fun to eat. Try making fruit creations, such as “snowmen” out of stacked grapes, or orange and peach skewers. Children may be more inclined to drinking fruit smoothies mixed with yogurt, or giving foods fun names, such as banana bombs, which are just chunks of banana rolled in honey and granola. All it may take is creating a fruit face on a plate with different fruits resembling features. Try kiwi eyes, apple slices for a mouth, a blueberry nose, or whatever you come up with.

5. Be patient with new foods

It can take a few attempts and repeated exposure to get children to try new foods, says the Mayo Clinic. Serve new foods along with children’s favorite foods, like apple slices added to peanut butter sandwiches. (MS)

Here are more ideas about incorporating these apples in tasty snacks.

Crunch Apple Slices

Core, cut and slice 2 apples, crush 1/2 cup of your favorite cereal like Chex or Rice Krispies, mix 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar and 2 tablespoons peanut butter together. Spread the brown sugar and peanut butter onto apple slices and roll in cereal.

Apple Kabobs

Core, quarter and cube an apple. Slice some cheese into similarly sized cubes. Skewer the apples and cheese alternately on toothpicks, adding a raisin or other dried fruit. If packing for school lunch, dip the apples into a little lemonade first to keep them from turning brown.

Dried Apples

You can easily dry your own apples without any preservatives. Cut an apple into 1/4 inch thick slices. Dip them into a bowl of lemon water or lemonade. Spread out on a metal rack and set into a warm oven (180 F) for two or three hours. Turn off the oven and let them cool.

Baked Apples

Place a cored apple in a buttered ramekin. Add 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon into the center hole. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.


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