16 ways to get your toddler to eat her 5-a-day

Make sure your little one stays healthy with these easy ways to get her wolfing down her fruit and veg – and asking for more!

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1) Make dippers

“Give fussy eaters simple food that’s fun,” says nutritionist Anita Bean from the Haliborange Shiny School for healthier youngsters. “Vegetable and fruit dippers are perfect.” Make a dip with grated cucumber and yogurt and chop up celery, carrots and cucumber sticks. She’ll love dunking and crunching!

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2) Share the prep

Involve your little one as you prepare fruit and veg for a meal,” suggests Sue Beever, author of Happy Kids Happy You. “Tell her what you’re doing, explain which bits we eat, the bits we cut off and how they grow, as you reinforce the message that fruit and veg are good for our bodies.” By learning more, she’ll want to eat more.

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Young carrots make a great starter puree when first weaning

3) Popcorn? A vegetable?

Ditch the crisps and embrace lower-fat popcorn – yes, it really is a vegetable. Pour a 10 pence-sized drizzle of vegetable oil into a saucepan and add a handful of popping kernels, put the lid on and turn on the heat. Make sure you let it cool before dishing it out, and don’t smother it in salt or sugar!

4) Sweet tooth? Try veg cakes

Be inventive – you can add a serving of grated veggies to cake batter, even if it’s not in the recipe. Try courgette or carrot, or our yummy chocolate and beetroot cake recipe.

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5) Have a taste adventure

“Enjoy having samples together and exploring new tastes and textures,” suggests Sue. “This was how I discovered my youngest prefers many vegetables raw. It seemed a bit odd to let her have raw broccoli, but it’s healthier that way anyway (as none of the vitamins have been cooked out) and easier to prepare, too!”

6) Be a smoothie

Just because it’s winter, this doesn’t mean you can’t be a smoothie operator. “Kids love throwing different types of fruit in the blender, pressing the button and seeing what shade it comes out,” says Tanith Carey, author of How to be an Amazing Mum When You Just Don’t Have the Time . “Try bananas, pineapples, papayas, mangoes, peaches, nectarines, pears and all the different berries. And throw in some nuts, oat flakes or plain yogurt to make the smoothie more substantial.

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A Winter warming recipe

7) Invent new combos

If your little one doesn’t like the standard veggies you’re serving up, think outside the (veg) box. Mashed up sweet potato and butter beans is a tasty combo (and really quick to make), while sweetcorn combined with tinned tomatoes is another fave.

8) Be souper

Soups are perfect for the colder months – warming, cheap and you can get five-a-day into one meal. Use up old vegetables to create your own recipes. It’s really hard to make a bad-tasting soup, so most combinations are fine.

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A fun recipe that your toddler can help you make

9) Use your loaf

If you’re the lucky owner of a bread maker, make sure you chuck in some extra goodies before you flick that switch. Onions, herbs and garlic make tasty bread for little mouths.

10) Build your own

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Let your toddler design her own pizza. Think faces, animals, buildings – with veg toppings. Pineapple, sweetcorn and mushrooms are great options, while you can boost vitamin C by making your own sauce using whatever veg you’ve got – plus tomatoes, of course.

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