How can I encourage my child to eat more fruit and vegetables?

Radio presenter, home cook and dad, Nick Coffer, gives us his ten of the best tips to encourage your children to eat more fruit and veg to ensure they get their 5 a-day

How can I encourage my child to eat more fruit and vegetables?

Nick Coffer has been eating fresh, tasty meals all his life, but his real love affair with food began when he lived in France in his twenties. Nick was a stay-at-home dad when he launched a hugely successful video food blog, which shows Nick, son Archie and daughter Matilda cooking together in their kitchen.

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Nick is the author of My Daddy Cooks and The After School Cookbook, and presents a daily BBC radio show.

Here are Nick’s top ten tips on how to get children eating more fruit and vegetables…

  • No child is going to eat every kind of fruit and veg under the sun

Nor would any adult – but we don’t generally label adults as fussy eaters because of it. Even if your children only enjoy one or two specific fruits or vegetables, that is still much better than nothing, so embrace their choice and make things using their preferred choices. Their tastes will develop as they grow older.

  • Help your children to connect with where their fruit and veg comes from

Take them shopping with you, let them pick out the things they like the look of. Better still, grow some of your own in your back garden. When my children know what they are eating – and where it comes from – they are always more likely to eat it.

READ MORE >> Growing vegetables with your child

  • Get your children into the kitchen with you and let them join in with the preparation

A mixture of self-pride and curiosity means they are much more likely to eat food they have been involved in preparing. An easy recipe like Viva Strawberries’ Home Time Snack of Fruit Kebabs with Strawberry Milk is perfect for kids to try. See recipe below:

Viva Strawberry home time snack-Fruit Kebabs with Strawberry Milk

You will need: 200g Viva Strawberries sliced, 1 Mango sliced, 2 tangerines segmented, 100g green grapes. For the milk: 200g viva strawberries and 300ml milk

What to do: On wooden skewers, thread on the sliced fruit, alternating the strawberries with the mango, tangerines and grapes. To make the milk, blitz together the strawberries and milk until smooth. Serves: 4
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes

  • I am not an advocate of “hiding” fruit and veg but, at the same time, there are some great ways of making them less visible

Simple savoury muffins can take all manner of fillings, as can scones – and both are very easy to make at home. Also, a good tomato pasta sauce base (just one onion, a couple of cloves of garlic and a tin of chopped tomatoes) is a great thing to chuck almost any vegetables into.

  • Enjoy home-made cakes and sweet things!

I am a firm believer that home-made cakes and treats are good. You know exactly what is in them, there are no nasty additives and children love cake. A simple Victoria sponge, topped with some whipped cream and strawberries is a great way of getting fruit into your children’s diets. It doesn’t matter that the strawberries are on a cake – they are still strawberries, they still contain wonderful goodness and they are still being eaten by your children.

  • Dips are a great way of making vegetables more fun

Both my children love hummus. There is just something fun about dipping and scooping. Serve them with carrot or cucumber sticks.

RECIPE IDEA: Try this Vegetable Snack Jars with Gold Dip

  • My children are always more likely to eat a wider variety of things when they are hungry

If you offer them a mid-morning snack or after school snack, offer them chopped fruit in a bowl, or vegetable batons to nibble. Their need for food will outweigh their reticence at what they are eating.

  • It is important to try to be a role model to your children

You are the one they are learning from. If they see you enjoying fruit and veg without fuss, they will often try to emulate that. Parents with a healthy attitude around food are more likely to have children with a healthy attitude. Parents who are faddy and on and off diets may be giving their children the wrong message.

  • Be smooth

All children love a milkshake so blitz up some fresh ones at home. Or for extra cold refreshment, blitz up a mix of frozen red fruit (for example strawberries, blackberries and raspberries) and pour in some fresh yogurt and a drizzle of honey for some instant frozen yoghurt.

RECIPE IDEA: Easy Mango Lassi for children

  • Try to ignore their attempts to wind you up
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It is important to steer clear of the games and control battles which kids get involved in around food. It’s obvious why – they know how important we think it is for them to be well-fed and they know how wound up we can get about it. Just ignore the games, turn a blind eye (no matter how counter intuitive that will feel) and you may be surprised how quickly they get bored of the game and turn their attention to other things – such as actually eating!