You might be surprised to learn that while children lose academic learning over the summer, they often gain weight more rapidly during summer break.
With succulent watermelons ripe on the vine and strawberry-picking fields just a short drive from St. Paul, “3 Fruits & Veggies” helps keep childhood obesity at bay and promotes healthier food choices.
Here are a few fun ways to add more fruits and vegetables to your family’s plate this summer:
- Plant seeds – of your children’s choosing – in a backyard or community garden.
- Plan a family meal or menu item using the food harvested from the garden. Or, donate some of the produce you grow to a local food shelf.
- Visit your local library and check out a cookbook for kids. Let each family member choose a healthy item to make. (Tip: Our librarian recommends “The Healthy Start Kids’ Cookbook: Fun and Healthful Recipes That Kids Can Make Themselves” by Sandra K. Nissenberg for an easy-to-use cookbook filled with step-by-step instructions for yummy, healthy recipes that the whole family will enjoy).
- Visit the St. Paul Farmers Market and ask a local grower about their products.
- Kumquats, star fruit, ugli fruit….Buy a new or different item of produce and see who can guess its name. (Bonus points for guessing the country or state of origin)!
- Make it a contest! See who can try the most new fruits and/or vegetables in your family this summer. Or, have a taste-testing contest to see which new food is the most popular in your household.
- Get creative when presenting fruits and vegetables, and let kids help. Make “veggie monsters” by using toothpicks to attach broccoli hair, cucumber eyes and a carrot nose to a yellow pepper “head.” Or, create “funny fruit faces” by lining up blueberries to make a smiley mouth, grapes for eyes and a strawberry nose. Let your kids experiment and make their own edible fruit and veggie creations.
- Encourage fruits and veggies for snacks, or as part of a snack alongside a low-fat cracker or yogurt. Spread peanut butter on celery stalks and add raisins to make “ants on a log”.
- Substitute healthier items for sugary snacks. Choose frozen fruit pops over ice cream bars, and stock the pantry with high-fiber granola bars instead of candy bars.