Summer is heating up, and our family is enjoying more time to together, which makes this season so special. As a mom of three active kids, I love how our schedule slows down a bit over summer vacation so we can reconnect, refresh and reenergize before the next school year.
While we’ve hit pause (slightly!) on the hustle and bustle of activities, we have also taken the time to slow down and savor delicious, easy meals. And, I’m finding that fewer commitments means we can have more time together prepping and practicing new habits, including new ways to enjoy fruits and vegetables as a family.
Earlier this year, PBH released our latest State of the Plate consumption data, which reminded me how important it is that we all help each other inspire a new generation of fruit and veggie lovers among our kids. Their eating habits and preferences change often, and it’s also a time to have some FUN with fruits and vegetables to set kids up to be successful fruit and veggie fans as they grow up.
I love listening to Jason Riis, PhD, PBH Chief Behavioral Scientist, and PBH’s team of consumer behavior experts, who remind me how I can inspire my own kids – and, with you, create the next generation of cool and creative Have A Plant® Nation followers! Some ideas that motivate me:
Keep It Real
Set some goals as a family to boost how often you enjoy fruits and veggies each week – but start small so you can build on successes! Don’t bite off more than you can chew (literally), or everyone will lose their motivation. Consider choosing one of these real and easy ideas: Add one more fruit serving to breakfast each day. Include one veggie side at lunch or in a snack. Add a new vegetable to Taco Tuesday. Try one new fruit or vegetable each week for Try It Thursday. Over time, these small steps will become easy, delicious habits. And include your kids in setting these goals so they’re in on the action!
Start With Fruits & Veggies
Research has shown that simply eating fruits and vegetables first, before and/or at a meal or snack, can help improve the odds they’re eaten more often. And even just a few bites count and can help build this habit! Serve your family a fresh cut fruit or veggie “appetizer.” Encourage your kids to sample the fruit and/or veggie on the plate first and over time, they may naturally do so.
This is my favorite – and I think the most important tip, especially for busy families. We can all agree that the science shows eating more fruits and vegetables can improve our health, but did you also know these plant foods can boost our mood too? Now that’s something to celebrate with some fun meal and snack hacks. Enjoying fruits and vegetables should be just that – ENJOYABLE and fun! Think kid-cute-rie boards featuring fruits and vegetables to inspire kids to build their own side dishes or snacks. Or pizzas featuring a rainbow of veggies.
Experiment With All Varieties & Types
All types of fruits and vegetables count in meeting recommendations for better health and happiness – fresh, frozen, 100% juice, canned and dried. If your kiddo doesn’t like the texture of one form, try another. Who doesn’t love a smoothie or popsicle made with frozen fruit and a hint of honey?? Or try new prep methods. My kids love broccoli, cauliflower and carrots roasted with a hint of salt – yum!!
Get Them Involved
Kids love to be in the kitchen and involving them in fruit and veggie prep can help them feel like heroes at boosting their family’s intake. This could be as simple as rinsing lettuce and tomatoes, building a salad or pizza together, or creating a fruit-filled trail mix.
Celebrate Your Plantentions
Set goals to #haveaplant more often and then celebrate your success together, with rewards your kids identify. Let them come up with the experience or “thing” you’ll all enjoy (within reason of course!) after achieving your goal, such as starting each breakfast with fruit for a week. A little bit of planning can go a long way in building positive fruit and vegetable habits – and recognizing and rewarding achievements along the way can make those new behaviors last even longer.
Check out our new Kickin’ It With Kids content for even more inspo to keep fruit & veggie-filled meals and snacks easy and FUN with kids this summer and all year! #haveaplant