April 2, 2018

Go ahead, be sneaky. Try these tips to work more fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet — plus a recipe.


Eating fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet for both children and adults. Finding creative ways to encourage fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet can be fun for the entire family.

How to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables:

  • Use fruits and vegetables as “anytime” snacks.
  • Try dipping. Children love to dip, because it is fun! Let them dip apples in peanut butter, carrots in low-fat ranch salad dressing or peppers in hummus.
  • Be sneaky. Puree and grate fruit and vegetables into soups, stews, casseroles and baked items. Carrots, zucchini and applesauce are all great options. They add flavor and nutrients, and your kids will never know.
  • When shopping for food, select plenty of fruit and vegetables. Canned and frozen options are nutritious and economical choices. Be sure to choose lower-sodium canned vegetables and only canned fruit packed in 100 percent juice. You can also guarantee freshness by shopping local markets for seasonal Tennessee fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid buying high-calorie foods such as chips, cookies and candy. Your child may not ask for these treats if they are not in sight and will be more likely to eat fruit and vegetables.
  • Limit fruit juice, opting for real fruit, and make sure any fruit juice they drink is 100 percent juice, not “juice drinks.”
  • Get to know your local farmer. Noor Brifkani, registered dietitian at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, suggests “taking a trip as a family to your local farmers market or a farm near you and using it as an educational opportunity to teach your children about the foods that grow in their hometowns.” Visit the Pick Tennessee Products website to find local farmers markets near you.
  • Keep trying. For some foods, it may take multiple times before a child acquires a taste for it.
  • Be a role model by eating more fruits and vegetables yourself.
  • Use creative recipes to get kids to eat vegetables (start with the recipe below!)
  • Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to find out how much of each food group your child should be getting.

Stacey Kendrick, MS, is a health educator with more than 20 years of experience in wellness and population health. She spent much of her career at Vanderbilt’s Faculty/Staff Wellness Program and currently works in Strategic Marketing at Vanderbilt. She is mother to two adult daughters. In her free time, she teaches healthy cooking classes, runs, gardens and enjoys backyard bonfires.


Recipe: Monster Mango Smoothie
Recipe Type: Drinks
Author: Lauren Jacoway and Brittany Siler
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 3-4 large mint leaves
  • 3/4 cup mango
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 5 ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. If your child prefers a little more sweetness, try adding 1 tablespoon of honey.
Serving size: 2 cups Calories: 110 Fat: 0 Saturated fat: 0 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 29 g Sugar: 21 g Sodium: 30 mg Fiber: 5 g Protein: 2 g Cholesterol: 0