Modern grandparents usually reject the cookies-candy-and-soda diet that grandchildren enjoyed at the hands of their grandparents in an earlier time. Modern grandparents know the importance of healthy foods for kids, but they may not know how to get the grandkids to eat them. These tips could help you feel good about what you are feeding your grandchildren without costing you your most-favored status.
1. Let the Grandchildren Choose.
Involve the grandchildren in choosing fruits and vegetables. The very best strategy is to involve them in growing produce, but that's not feasible for all grandparents. A second-best strategy is to take them to a pick-your-own farm or orchard, which can be a educational outing as well as a culinary exercise. Visiting a farmer's market where they can interact with the vendors is also fun, but even a supermarket offers ample opportunity to explore unusual types of produce.
2. Teach Them the Names.
3. Offer a Variety.
My seven grandchildren all have different preferences in fruits and vegetables, but it's easy to buy a variety. Just buy one or two of each type. Being exposed to the other grandkids' preferences could have a side benefit. Maybe while Grandchild #1 is chowing down on mango, Grandchild #2 will decide to try it.
4. Be a Cut-Up
Although some kids love handling and eating whole fruits and vegetables, most do better with small pieces. Kids also are very influenced by appearances. Cut their food into neat pieces or make fun shapes. Let older kids help with the cutting. Even toddlers can cut up bananas with a kitchen knife. Grapes should be cut up for children four and under to prevent choking. Use a squeeze of lemon juice or a commercial product to prevent browning, especially if children are grazers.
5. Dip in.
Kids who won't eat certain vegetables and fruit plain will often eat them with a dip. Try peanut butter, hummus, black bean dip or yogurt as a healthier alternative to the ubiquitous ranch dip; however, children who will eat vegetables with ranch or fruit with whipped topping are better off than children who won't touch any fruit or vegetables. Often they can be phased into trying them plain or with healthier accompaniments.
6. Serve Them Nicely.
Kids are often intrigued by special serving dishes and utensils. Put fruit in a pretty cup or bowl, and arrange vegetables on a plate or platter. Older kids will enjoy using toothpicks, skewers or tiny forks to spear their foods. They may also be more likely to nibble finger foods from a platter than if you place them on their own plates, where they may feel that they are being required to eat them.
7. Set a Good Example.
Research shows that the eating habits of the family have a powerful influence on children. Since grandparents usually have a special place in the hearts of their grandchildren, the foods they eat may be even more intriguing. Grandparents should avoid pushing new foods on their grandchildren, letting their natural curiosity lead them to asking for a taste.
8. Dine Al Fresco.
Take the kids on a picnic, or set up lunch on the patio. The novelty of eating out-of-doors will sometimes overcome their resistance to new foods. Also, they may accept what is offered if they are away from other alternatives. If the weather isn't conducive to being out-of-doors, spread out a blanket and have an indoor picnic.
9. Blend Them In.
Although it's ideal for children to learn to enjoy fruits and vegetables in unadulterated form, they can be incorporated into other foods. Carrots that are grated very fine are almost undetectable in spaghetti sauce, for example. Kids may also enjoy making their own smoothies.
There's nothing more counter-productive to culinary adventure than pressure. Don't pressure your grandchildren to eat their fruits and vegetables. Some experts say that children may have to be exposed to a food 50 times before they develop a taste for it. If you offer very small portions, it won't break the budget if they go uneaten. Do your best; then let it go.