Ways to encourage children to eat and enjoy fruit and vegetables
A study for The School Food Trust says that 40 per cent of kids' lunchboxes don't have any fruit and vegetables.
But just how do you make sure that your child is getting enough fruit and vegetables in their diet so they can benefit from all those health benefits?
We've teamed up with top registered nutritionist Carina Norris, the brains behind Lorraine Kelly's Junk Free Children's Eating Plan, to come up with some top tips on how to feed them fruit and veg as well as some great every day stealth techniques.
Make fruit fun
A study in Holland and Belgium showed that making fruit look fun made it more likely that kids will eat it. How you present the food could be vital according to the research. So for instance, think about serving up skewered pieces of fruit on sticks.
Kiwis are cool
A kiwi fruit in a lunchbox is a great idea, and contains as much vitamin C as an orange. Just cut it in half and wrap it in cling film. Pack a teaspoon so that it can be eaten like a boiled egg.
Give children mandarins, satsumas and clementines in their lunchboxes; they're easier to peel and often sweeter than oranges. Most children like grapes too and these are another good idea for lunchboxes.
It doesn't have to be fresh
At home, remember that you don't always have to serve up fresh fruit. Frozen and tinned fruit count too – though you should buy fruit tinned in juice, not syrup.
Mix it up
Put chopped fruits such as peaches or nectarines, or crushed berries, into natural yogurt. Sweeten with a little honey if you need to.
Keep it pure-ed
Make up a smoothie using pureed fresh fruit – or use to top rice pudding to encourage kids to gobble it up.
Pureed or grated vegetables can also be added to stews, stocks, pies, and soups, while other veg can be pureed into a tomato sauce with pasta.
Inject some fun into eating fruit. For example, give them a slice of watermelon and see who can collect the most seeds on their plate.
Try grilling fruit such as pineapple rings or pear, peach or apple slices. Or roast chunks of fruit in the oven and serve as a topping for Scotch pancakes. Top with some natural yogurt or fromage frais.
In the winter aim to make fruit puddings such as crumbles – they're always popular.
Add chopped fresh, frozen or tinned fruit when you're making jellies.
Make it colourful
Make a big deal of trying some new exotic fruit like papaya that will spark a child's interest.
Children often need to try a vegetable several times before deciding that they like it. Try serving it in different ways, or letting them eat it raw.
Mash it up
Add a little mashed carrot or sweet potato to boiled potatoes to make a colourful mash, with a vitamin A boost, important for keeping children's immune systems strong.
Most children love eating peas straight from the pod when they're in season. Let them grow a few of their own in pots or put aside a part of the garden where they can grow their own veg.
If they can't wait for dinner serve up some raw cut up veg to keep their hunger pangs at bay before the main event. Serving them up while they watch TV is another good tip.
Add veggie sticks to lunchboxes. Carrot sticks, pepper and cucumber perfect with salsa or a yogurt dip. Cherry tomatoes go down well, too.
Try a fruit sandwich
Some days why not hide some banana slices in those lunchbox sandwiches instead of the usual fillings.
There's nothing wrong with the odd treat. But why not add a fruit dimension. Dip fruit like strawberries into a little bit of melted chocolate as a treat instead of sweets or straight chocolate.
Check out more of Carina's tips at www.carinanorris.co.uk