Instilling a Healthy Love of Fruit in Kids

Most kids like fruits because they are sweet and delicious. According to the USDA dietary recommendations, children should have between one and two servings of fruit a day.

For example, a serving size of fruit is a medium sized piece of fruit or a cup of chopped fruit. Unfortunately, sometimes parents find it easier to stock up on inexpensive, non-perishable snack foods—full of sugar, carbohydrates, calories, and preservatives.

Common culinary fruits.

Common culinary fruits. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Instilling a healthy love of fruit instead, is extremely beneficial for children.

· Naturally healthy with vitamins and minerals

· Low calorie snacks that combat obesity if used as a replacement for high calorie snacks

· Fiber that will help aid their digestion and keep them regular

There is a reason parents often give their kids unhealthy snacks. Fruit can be expensive and it might go bad before it gets eaten. Don’t let that deter you! Here are some helpful tips:

Do eat fruit whole—many of the nutrients of a fruit such as apples are in the peel. Fruit juice can be counted as a serving of fruit but is high in calories and can cause tooth decay making it not as good of an option as a piece of whole fruit. Encourage kids to eat different colored fruits because they have different nutritional value.

Do serve food raw—fruit is naturally sweet so it doesn’t need added sugar or other condiments. These will simply add calories. Let your children develop a taste for natural fruit.

Do buy in season—in season fruits will be higher quality and less expensive. The nutritional value of fruit frozen at the peak of ripeness is often better than fresh fruit bought off season so consider that as an alternate.

Do buy organic—non-organic foods are treated with pesticides, and residue can remain after washing. Be a savvy shopper and selectively buy organic if you cannot afford to buy all organic. Berries, nectarines and grapes are on the “dirty dozen”—a must buy organic foods list. On the other hand, some fruits like bananas and mangoes do not need to be purchased organic.

The best way to help your kids get a natural taste for fruit is to incorporate it into snacks and regular meals. Try these ideas and before long your kids will be asking for fruit!

Throw it in the lunch box—adding fresh fruit to your kid’s lunch box is a great way to give them a nutritional boost during the day. A small washed apple, pear or bunch of grapes are great kid-friendly choices.

Pick your own—take your kids to pick their own fruits. Apple orchards, strawberry farms and peach farms are a lot of fun for the whole family and kids will enjoy snacking while picking!

Serve different varieties—don’t always serve fruit the same way. Kids love smoothies, fruit salads and even cold frozen fruits. Dried fruits like prunes and apricots are also great for kids.

Make fruit treats for holidays—serve fruit treats like parfaits, fruit kabobs or chocolate covered berries from Shari’s Berries for birthdays or holidays.

Make it accessible—always have an appetizing fruit bowl at eye level and arms reach for your kids and tuck other snack options away in the pantry. You’ll be surprised how easily kids reach for fruit when it is available.

Getting your kids to eat fruit isn’t a hard sell. When introduced early in childhood, kids will develop a natural taste for fruit that will set them up for a lifelong healthy lifestyle.

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Guest Post – Healthier Desserts for the Summertime

When most of us think of seasons with high fat desserts, we often think of winter where Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to overload us on pies, cookies, and candy. However, summer can be a deceptively unhealthy time as well. Just because you are outdoors doesn’t mean that you should be allowing yourself to frequently indulge in high fat ice creams, creamy pudding desserts, and others cool treats like key lime or french silk pie.

Instead, when you are craving something cool and sweet on a hot summer night, consider giving one of the following healthy snacks a try:

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Smoothies are a great way to cool down during the summer. They are nutrient packed and easy to make, with dozens of banana smoothie recipes being readily available online. Not only are they healthy, but they can range in flavors from a banana pineapple smoothie to a more decadent banana split smoothie so you can easily find one that fits everyone’s palate. Also, because smoothies generally require frozen fruits, you don’t have to worry about fruit spoiling and going to waste, and can easily keep the frozen ingredients on hand to use at any time.

Chocolate Covered Bananas

Bananas seem to go bad quicker than we can consume them in our house, but if you freeze them just as they go ripe, you can keep them longer and enjoy a greater summer snack. If you’ve got a few bananas laying around, peel them, put them on a stick and then freeze them. Once frozen, dip them in chocolate for a great, cool snack that tastes similar to an icecream bar – but with more nutritional value.

Homemade Fruit Pops

When you purchase popsicles from the store, they are not only expensive, especially the all natural ones, but they are also incredibly high in added sugar. To keep the health benefits high while still being able to enjoy a great snack, consider making your own fruit pops. You can add just about any fruit to them to fit your own tastes, and will be a family favorite.

Summertime is a time when most of us focus on getting back in shape. Don’t spoil your efforts by enjoying one too many decadent treats. Instead, focus on eating all those great fruits that come in to season as a sweet treat, and you should be able to give your family a nutritious snack without overloading on calories.

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