Fruits and Veggie Fun for Pre-Schoolers
Making fruit and vegetables fun
Healthy food choices are so important for growing minds and bodies, and there are many fantastic fresh whole foods available. Introducing these foods into your child’s diet as early and regularly as possible will ensure they come to regard it as a natural part of their day. Fruit and vegetables will balance blood sugar levels in children, avoiding the spike and crash that occurs when children consume processed foods. Balanced blood sugar has a directly positive effect on mood, concentrations levels and physical wellbeing.
The great thing about fruit and vegetables is their naturally interesting appearance. Coming in a range of bold colours, unusual shapes, and varied textures. They are wonderful things to discover with your child. Children will naturally be discerning between fruits and vegetables they prefer, and this may reflect their own intuitive nutritional needs.
Some children, for example, just don’t like tomato, and you may find later in life, that the acidity of this fruit is a natural deterrent for them. Other times, a child may be put off by texture. For example, the creamy texture of a banana so popular to toddlers may suddenly become an unappealing gooey fruit to a five-year-old. Try to identify what is putting your child off this or that food source, so you can support them to move through fussy stages and make sure they receive a balanced range of nutrients.
When choosing fruits and vegetables, be aware of the natural sugar and salt content of various produce. For example, a celery stick provides valuable natural salts, while grapes and melons are high in sugar and should be eaten more sparingly. Citrus is great for vitamin C, and apples provide natural fibre. Carrot and cucumber sticks are a good neutral vegetable. Berries are packed full of vitamins and not as sweet as they look. They make an excellent choice where affordable, in place of fruits with higher sugar content.
Don’t be afraid to try all kinds of vegetables in your child’s lunchbox. Leftover baked potato, beetroot, snow peas, capsicum sticks, an olive or a peeled mushroom are unusual but nourishing options for something different.
Food as art
If you still find you are having trouble enticing your child towards vegetables, try presenting them in new ways.
Creating a broccoli forest or a smiley face on a plate can help grab their attention. Involving them in preparing the vegetables and building the sculpture can help too. Depending on how much time you have, you can create quite elaborate and amusing animals out of fruit and vegetables.
Slinky apples are made using a Slinky Apple Machine which cores and spirals the apple. Kids love this and you can assist them to ‘slinky’ the apple themselves. You can buy Apple Slinky Machines from homewares stores.
Ants on logs
Try celery sticks with low salt natural peanut butter or cream cheese, and sultanas on top!
Colourful, easy to eat, appetising and healthy. Make them using seasonal fruits cut into bite size pieces, threaded onto bamboos skewers.
Fruit and vegetable stories
You can build on fun presentation ideas by making up stories about your fruits and vegetables, or giving them unusual names such as Space Potatoes or Sea Apples. You could eat fruits and vegetables by the alphabet, by colour, or by sound. Crunch, snap, and squelch!
Explaining to children where fruits and vegetables come from and having them help choose them at the shops or from the garden are also great ways of encouraging them to be involved in what they eat. The more fruits and vegetables they eat, the more they will seek them out, enjoying the feeling they gain from healthy eating.
Good nutrition in child care centres
Many children spent most of their day or all day in child care hence it’s very important that the food they are provided with is nutritionally adequate. Young children, babies and toddlers only eat whatever they have been give therefore the responsibility lies with educators.
Keiki Early Learning follows very strict dietary guidelines and employs experienced Cooks who are passionate about children’s nutrition. We ensure your children are getting the nutrients they need in a fun way.
If you would like to discuss healthy eating environments for your growing child, contact Keiki Early Learning today.