The challenge sounds simple: Eat five servings of fruit and/or vegetables five days a week, every week, for the entire school semester.
That’s what I thought when my kids brought home their Five For Five Challenge grids, with all those little boxes to check off. But when we examined what we actually consumed every day, we realized our diets needed some tweaking.
And though there were days when it seemed we would need to count ketchup to meet the daily goal, we found ways to succeed. For instance:
● Swirl up a breakfast smoothie. Blend two bananas, two cups of fresh fruit, a carton of yogurt and a splash of juice to make two or three servings. Use frozen fruit or add ice if you want it super cold. Experiment! Spinach leaves and carrot juice pass almost undetected when added with strawberries or a lemon. (Honest!)
● Sauce up the sauce. Toss a little “unexpected” into the spaghetti sauce. (My kids have come to expect this!) Try chopped eggplant, carrots or zucchini. There are no rules – especially with spaghetti sauce!
● Eat the Rainbow. Just say no to plates loaded with 50 shades of brown. (Nuggets, fries, meat and more meat, stuffing, etc…) Add color with mandarin oranges, cherries and pears in the salad, which could turn around reluctant greens eaters. Pop some frozen blueberries in the morning cereal. Slip a bag of cherry tomatoes into the lunchbox.
● Use “loving deception.” If your audience balks at all other attempts, go the route of Jessica Seinfeld. Yes, she’s married to Jerry, the comedian, and no, she feels no shame in using stealth to pass off veggies on the unsuspecting.
I’ve tried some of the recipes in Seinfeld’s cookbook, “Deceptively Delicious,” with applause from the peanut gallery. But, I must confess, some of the recipes sound a little much for my tastes. (Banana Pudding Pie with cantaloupe and yellow squash, anyone?)
My friend Virginia is a great believer in the old school adage of “simply present it.” Sort of a “Field of Dreams” plan for the dinner table: “If you serve it, they will eat.” But there’s another big “if” here: If they are hungry enough. So keep them out of the snacks, and this plan might work!
What are some steps you've taken to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet?