by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension- Jackson County
If your garden or fruit and berry orchard has been successful, now is the time of the year that you have an abundance of fresh produce to feed your family and friends. Maybe the local grocery store or farmers market is keeping you supplied with fresh produce this summer.
How do you encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables? I asked three University of Missouri Extension Nutrition Program Associates (NPA) in our Blue Springs, MO office for advice:
First, from Jennifer Backlund, NPA:
“Kids love to get involved and are more likely to try new things if they helped to prepare it. Even very young children can help wash veggies or gather ingredients. They love seeing the process of growing something in the garden then bringing it into the kitchen to be prepared. If you do not have your own garden space, going to a local farmers market or you-pick farm can help connect them to where their food comes from. Make sure to season and prepare veggies to make them tasty and interesting or add them to dishes kids already enjoy. Often, we serve them on the side and plain, which is not appealing to anyone.
The Seasonal and Simple app https://seasonalandsimple.info/recipedetails.aspx?RecipeID=849 is free and a great resource for simple, tasty ways to enjoy produce! We find that kids like learning about why foods are healthy for them and are more open to trying foods when they understand why they are important for their bodies. Through the University of Missouri Extension Family Nutrition Education Program, we teach nutrition education, gardening and cooking skills to children and adults in Jackson County. For information on getting Nutrition Education programs at your school or facility contact Ara Staab, Nutrition Coordinator, 816-482-5861 or Andrea Wikiera, Nutrition Program Manager, 816-482-5859.”
Next, from Dalton Guess, NPA:
“Kids prefer food with bright colors. It is important that they have foods, especially fruits and vegetables that come in a variety of colors as different colors help different parts of their bodies.
Try the tasty ‘Cowboy Caviar’ recipe below that highlights vegetables that will attract their eyes and their taste buds:”
1-tablespoon oil (canola, olive, or vegetable)
1-tablespoon cider vinegar
1-tablespoon lemon juice
½-teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 can (15 ounces) beans (drained and rinsed)
¾ cup frozen corn, thawed or fresh sweet corn cut off the cob
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup bell pepper, diced
1 cup tomatoes, chopped (1 medium tomato or 1 cup of chopped cherry tomatoes)
1 avocado, chopped
1. Whisk oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard in a small bowl.
2. Stir beans, corn, onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes in a medium bowl.
3. Pour liquids over bean mixture. Cover and refrigerator until ready to serve.
4. Add avocado just before serving. Gently stir to combine.
Last, but not least, here is some excellent advice from Paige Shoemaker, NPA:
“Smoothies are an easy and fun way to get kids excited about fruits. This recipe only takes three ingredients and uses fruit in season now.”
¾-cup blue berries (substitute red raspberries, black berries, or peaches, if blue berries are not available)
¼ cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
¾-cup skim milk
Pinch of cinnamon (if desired)
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
Contact Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension- Jackson County, at the Blue Springs office, 816-252-5051, if you have any questions about this article or about vegetable, fruit, or ornamental gardening.