The obesity rate among South African children is increasing at an alarming rate, largely due to unhealthy eating habits. It’s recommended that children (and adults) eat at least five portions of different vegetables and/or fruits a day. But, aany parent can attest, this can be difficult.
In light of National Obesity Week, registered dietician for Pick n Pay, Leanne Kiezer, shares seven creative ways for parents to sneak extra veggies and fruits into their child’s meals and snacks:
- Add veggies to their favourite meal. Add peas to macaroni and cheese, add shredded carrots to spaghetti bolognaise sauce, or stir colourful beetroot and zucchini noodles into a regular spaghetti pasta. You could also make a deluxe pizza with a whole-wheat pita bread base and top it with vegetable toppings.
- Make it interesting. Blitz or purée vegetables and add them to rice or mashed potato for extra colour on their plates.
- “Fortify” all your saucy meals like soups, stews and casseroles, with extra vegetables or canned beans.
- Offer raw finger foods. Children often prefer uncooked vegetables. They also love to dip them, so choose healthier dip options like tzatziki, hummus, salsa or even peanut butter.
- Use bright colours. To keep veggies appealing, steam or microwave them in a small amount of water, or stir fry them in a little oil. The main goal is to keep the cooking time to a minimum to ensure you keep the vegetable colours bright and the nutrients intact.
- Start a veggie club. Try to taste vegetables from A to Z, ticking off letters of the alphabet as you go. As you shop, ask your children to identify vegetables corresponding with each of the respective letters, so the veggie journey to become a family adventure.
- Make it a fun. Find a children’s book that features vegetables as characters, then taste the vegetables as you read the story.
For more healthy eating tips for kids, contact Pick n Pay’s registered dietitian for free on 0800 11 22 88 or via [email protected].
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day.