Get Creative in Sneaking Extra Fruits and Vegetables in Your Family’s Diet for Better Health
We all know that we should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. However, knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Sometimes, it is just not easy to buy or eat the right food all at the same time. We are constantly tempted to fill up on convenience and junk food. If your family were anything like mine, they would rather fill up on a bag of chips, a bowl or plate of fried rice, noodles or pasta instead of trying an apple or a plate of steamed broccoli and carrots. We will have to be creative to change die-hard habits and food choices!
Here are some ideas to ‘sneak’ some extra vegetables and fruits in your family’s diet.
10 Healthy ‘Sneak’ Tips
- Start the day with a breakfast smoothie. All you have to do is to put some fruits, low-fat yogurt and ice in a blender. You may also want to add a scoop of protein powder for good measure. Blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast ready to go. I like to sip mine in a thermal cup on the way to work. You can also make different types of smoothie everyday just to keep it interesting and novel. To make it even more appealing for your children, use some frozen yogurt or a scoop of ice cream in the smoothie. They will be delighted that you are letting them have ice cream for breakfast!
- Make dried fruits an excellent snack any time of the day. Add some small portions of raisins in your children’s lunch boxes; pack some yogurt-covered raisins in your husband’s briefcase; and keep some natural dried fruit or vegetable snacks conspicuously around the house for snacking. No potato chips, please. You can also add dried fruits to oatmeal and whole grain cereal in the morning. You children would love those crispy banana chips in their breakfast cereal.
- Add some fruits and vegetables to your family’s sandwiches. You can add some cut banana, sliced apples or strawberry to a peanut butter sandwich. Top a chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and preserved olives. You can even make a ‘sub shop style’ vegetable sandwich by adding different vegetables. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper, but avoid mayonnaise and cheese, as they are high in fat content.
- Create a salad bar for dinner. Set up a nice display of colourful variety of chopped vegetables with whole leaf lettuce as wraps, with baked chicken slices, salt/pepper, croutons, and several choices of salad dressing to suit your taste buds. You can find interesting Japanese salad dressing that appeal to Asian taste buds in our supermarkets. Let everybody create his or her own perfect salad.
- Let them ‘drink’ their fruits and vegetables. Keep an assortment of pure fruit and vegetable juices in the fridge and encourage everyone to drink them as a ‘snack’. Get creative. You could start ‘family cocktail hour’ by pouring everybody a glass of his or her favourite pure fruit and/or vegetable juice over ice. Add some nice straws, cocktail umbrellas, mixed nuts and sit together under warm lights in your favourite family space, balcony or garden and share how everybody’s day went.
- Enjoy this fruity dessert. Put a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit.
- Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks. You can cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter or tomatoes. ‘Cube’ fresh cucumbers and serve with grapes or blueberries and some mint leaves. Cut up some fresh veggies, carrot and cucumber sticks and serve them with homemade sesame dressing or dip.
- Try new fruits and vegetables. Pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. With a little luck, their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension in trying something new. You could try Thai jambu, Ecuador yellow dragonfruit, kiss melon, Thai star fruit, Lebanese cucumbers, or anything interesting you can find in your neighbourhood store, supermarket or wet market.
- Make a pot of mixed vegetable soup or stew heavy on veggies and easy on meat. Both of these make great comfort food when you feel low or the weather gets colder. Alternatively, you can make homemade ramen with plenty of vegetables and slices of organic chashu.
- Start ‘My Veggie Day’. Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they have tried the weekly vegetable choice the week before; otherwise, they lose a turn and Mom gets to pick.
Incorporate a few of these ideas above, and you will have everyone in your family eating more fruits and vegetables in no time.
Here is another tip:
Now that everyone in the family has gotten a taste for healthy fruits and vegetables, make sure you always have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies available and ready to snack on.
This is a very good lifestyle habit to complement the health and wellness paradigm. Research shows that consuming more fruits and vegetables have long-lasting health benefits and will reduce the amount of free radicals and stress in your body system. This will also well prepare your body to be less ‘tight’ in order to receive an effective chiropractic adjustment.
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Dr. Nicholas Lim, D.C., ANutr, B.Sc.(Hons)
[Dr. of Chiropractic & Nutritionist]
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