Encouraging kids to eat their vegetables is a perpetual challenge of parenting. Fortunately, we now know that old tactics like “no dessert until you finish your dinner!” simply doesn’t work. Instead, practices like getting kids involved in the cooking process, bonding as a family over food, and – most fun of all! – offering a flavorful dip to complement veggies are more effective approaches.
September is a great time to exercise these practices. It’s not only Fruits & Veggies More Matters month, but the start of many youth sports leagues as well as football season. Sports bring families together in a special way – nothing beats the bonding that occurs when you’re rooting for the same team, whether it’s during Monday night football or a weekend soccer game. And since “dippable” foods are practically synonymous with sports, why not give your game-day snacks a produce-packed makeover? Consider some of these game-day strategies:
- Serving fresh veggies with a quick dip made from pantry staples like canned black beans, green chilis, or even fruit packs in a double dose of healthy options. Ask your kids what flavors, like BBQ or chili, they’d most like to pair with fresh veggies, then seek out an easy recipe you can make together. Many require little more than taking turns pouring cans into the food processor! Even better, make a hearty meal of healthy dips and enjoy it together while watching the Monday night game as a special treat. Your family will bond over cooking, eating together, and rooting for your favorite team at the top of your lungs. A triple whammy!
- What about packing snacks to enjoy from the sidelines of a family member’s game? Rather than chips or cookies, fruit is the perfect option to fuel your athletic family. Before the game, make a refreshing dip together out of pineapple canned in juice and plain Greek yogurt for a snack that provides carbs and protein with no added sugar. Serve it with apple slices and be sure to pack it in secure take-along containers to avoid any sideline slip-ups!
Whatever dips you decide on, get the kids involved, and enjoy the food you prepare together. Just like sports, it’s a healthy practice that will lead to a lifetime of benefits.
By Diana K. Rice, RD
The Kids Cook Monday