Fiber is important to keep us regular. Plus, fiber is an important pre-biotic for your gut health as it keeps your microbiome happy. We all know by now that we should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables 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 trying an apple or a plate of steamed broccoli. So we’ll have to get creative. Here are a few ideas to “sneak” the much-needed fiber in your family’s diet.
1. Start the day with a simple breakfast smoothie.
All you have to do is throw some frozen or chilled fruits, greens and low-fat yogurt blender. You may also want to add a scoop of protein powder in there for good measure. Just blend well and you have the perfect breakfast ready to go. I like to sip mine in a thermal cup on the way to work. To make it even more appealing for your kids, use some frozen no-sugar yogurt in the smoothie. They won’t believe that you are letting them have dessert 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 anything else they will eat. You can even make a sub shop style vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with some mayonnaise and cheese on bread.
4. Set up a “fancy” salad bar at dinner.
Set out a variety of chopped vegetables, some cheese and croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing. Lay it out beautifully and let everybody create their own perfect salad.
5. Offer fiber-full dessert options.
Put a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh, frozen fruit topped with blended flaxseeds and almonds.
6. Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks.
Here are some ideas to help your kids see fruits and veggies as snack options:
You can cut apples into slices and top them with homemade nut butter or cheese.
Cube cheese and serve with melon or banana.
Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with ranch dip.
And of course there’s ants on a log. Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins on it (wow, fruit and vegetable in one snack).
7. Try some new fruits and vegetables.
Mix it up and pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. You could try artichokes, star fruit, okra, or anything else you can find in the produce department of your local store.
8. Make a pot of vegetable soup or a stew that’s heavy on veggies and easy on the meat.
It doesn’t have to be either or. When I make my family’s favorite lamb stew, I will sometimes add in some spinach and even chia seeds to up the fiber content.
9. Start “My Veggie Day”.
Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they tried each vegetable the week before, otherwise they lose a turn and Mom 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.
Now that everyone in the family has gotten a taste for it, make sure you always have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies available and ready to snack on.