We all know by now that we should be eating at least five servings of vegetables and two serves of fruit each day. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Sometimes it is just not easy to get them all in there. We are constantly tempted to fill up on convenience and junk food. If your family is anything like mine, they’d much rather fill up on a bag of chips or a bowl of rice or pasta instead of munching on an apple or a plate of steamed broccoli.

Sometimes we need to get creative.

Here are a few ideas to “sneak” some extra vegetables and fruits in your family’s diet, especially handy now that your children may be home schooling. The added bonus is that their energy levels and mental clarity will improve too!

1. Start the day with a breakfast smoothie.

All you have to do is throw some fruits, yogurt and oats in a blender. Just blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast ready to go. To make it even more appealing for your kids, use some frozen yogurt to create a smoothie. They won’t believe that you are letting them have something that tastes like ice cream for breakfast.

2. Dried fruit makes an excellent snack any time of the day.

Add some small cartons of raisins to your child’s lunch box, pack some yogurt-covered raisins in your husband’s briefcase and keep some trail mix sitting around for snacking. You can also add dried fruit to oatmeal and cereal in the morning. My family loves banana chips in their breakfast cereal.

3. Add some fruits and vegetables to your family’s sandwiches.

You can add some banana, sliced apples or strawberry slices to a peanut butter sandwich. Top a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and grated carrot. You can even make a “subway” style vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with some mayonnaise and cheese on bread.

4. Have a salad bar at dinner.

Set out a variety of chopped vegetables, some cheese and croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing along with the lettuce and let everybody create their own perfect salad.

5. Let them drink their fruits and vegetables.

Keep an assortment of fruit and vegetable juices in the fridge and encourage everyone to drink them as a snack. Even better, get creative and make your own. You could start “family cocktail hour” by pouring everybody a glass of his or her favourite juice over ice. Add some straws, cocktail umbrellas and sit together to talk about how everybody’s day went.

6. A Frozen Fruity Dessert.

Put a small scoop of frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit or blend it all together.

7. Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks.

Cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter or cheese. Cube cheese and serve with grapes. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with avocado or hummus dip. Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins on it (fruit and vegetable in one snack!).

8. Try some new fruits and vegetables.

Pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. With a little luck their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to trying something new. You could try artichokes, plantains, papaya, mango, star fruit, or anything else you can find in the produce department of your local store.

9. Make a pot of vegetable soup or a stew.

Both of these make some great comfort meals when the weather gets cold and are packed with nutrients.

10. “My Veggie Day” Pick.

Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they had tried someone else’s pick the week before, if not they lose a turn and Mum gets to pick.

Incorporate a few of these ideas and you will have everyone in your family eating more fruits and vegetables in no time. Then you just have to make sure there are always plenty of fresh fruits and veggies available and ready to snack on!

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