4429 - How to Get Your Children to Eat More Fruits & Vegetables

State of Illinois
Department of Human Services

Variety is the Spice of Life!

  • Offer at least one fruit, vegetable or juice that is high in vitamin A every day.
  • Offer at least one fruit, vegetable or juice that is high in vitamin C every day.
  • Offer at least one serving of a high fiber fruit or vegetable every day.
  • Offer a cabbage family vegetable several times a week, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, bok choy, kale, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, beet or mustard greens.

Set a Good Example

Be a role model for your child.

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Serve Fruits and Vegetables Raw Instead of Cooked

Serve your children raw slices of apples, pears, carrots, celery, radishes, cucumbers, broccoli or cauliflower. The crunchy texture is a real hit!

Don't Mix Foods Such as Peas and Carrots

Kids like to know what they are eating. Serve all foods separately. Let your child mix the foods if he or she wants them mixed.

Think About Color, Smell and Texture

The wrong smell, color or texture can turn kids off to fruits and vegetables. Avoid strong smells, drab colors and mushy textures. Serve vegetables raw or cooked tender-crisp. Combine vegetables with favorite foods like low-fat cheese.

Be Sure Smooth Foods Don't Have Lumps

Kids are suspicious of those round, bumpy mystery objects in their mashed potatoes that are supposed to be smooth!

Offer Dips or Dressings on the Side

Many veggies and fruits taste great with a dip or dressing on top. Dressings add dash and zip to fruits and vegetables.

  • Serve low-fat or fat-free lemon yogurt on cantaloupe or honeydew melon.
  • Place a bowl of low-fat salad dressing on the table as a dip for carrot sticks and green peppers.
  • Mix up instant pudding with skim milk and use it as a dip for fruit and berries.

How Big Is a Serving?

  • 1/2 cup cooked beans, cooked vegetables, chopped fruits, raw vegetables or berries.
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit. That's the same as a small box of raisins.
  • 3/4 cup (or 6 ounces) of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice.
  • 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables such as lettuce or spinach.
  • 1 medium piece of fruit, tomato or potato.

Kids Love to Cook!

Let your kids wash, peel and chop the veggies for recipes the whole family can enjoy. Kids will gobble up the foods they help fix.

Try this quick-to-fix recipe!

Oven Wedge Fries

Makes 4 servings

  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 tsp olive or vegetable oil

    Preheat oven to 450 F. Scrub potatoes well. Cut them lengthwise into 6 wedges the size and shape of dill pickle spears. Dry them on a paper towel. In a large bowl, toss the potato spears with olive oil until they are well covered. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet, and dust them with paprika or parsley or one of the Seasoning Variations listed below. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until fork-tender.

Or, cook them in a wire basket on the grill.

Seasoning Variations:

Dried spice mix, Parmesan cheese, 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, Cayenne red pepper or chili powder.

Nutrient analysis per serving: 80 calories

1 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 mg sodium, 13 percent of calories from fat.

Recipe from: Eater's Choice: A food Lover's Guide to Lower Cholesterol

Offer Old Favorites and New Foods Together

Encourage your child to taste any new veggies. Have old favorites around to complete the menu. If they don't like the new food the first time, remove the food and try again in a few weeks.

Add Vegetables to Favorite Foods

  • Shred veggies such as zucchini or carrots into meat loaf or casseroles.
  • Use veggies and fruits to make a sandwich face. Have Fruits and Vegetables Around and "In Sight"

It's hard to choose grapes over potato chips if they aren't in the house. Studies show that families that have fruits and vegetables around will eat more of them!

  • Put a few extra fruits and vegetables into your shopping cart this week.
  • Visit the local farmer's market or grocery. Let your child pick out some favorites or something new.
  • Put a bowl of fruit on the table.
  • Keep carrot and celery sticks in a clear container in the refrigerator.

How Many Vegetables and Fruits Should Kids Eat?

Experts recommend that children eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

How Big Is a Serving?

  • Fruit - 1 cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice or 1/2 cup dried fruit count as a 1 cup serving.
  • Vegetable - 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice or 2 cups of raw leafy greens can be considered 1 cup.

For more information:

Call or visit your Illinois Department of Human Services' Family Community Resource Center (FCRC).

If you have questions about any Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) program, call or visit your FCRC. We will answer your questions. If you do not know where your FCRC is or if you are unable to go there, you may call the automated helpline 24 hours a day at:


(866) 324-5553 TTY/Nextalk or 711 TTY Relay

You may speak to a representative between:

8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday (except state holidays)

For answers to your questions, you may also write:

Illinois Department of Human Services

Bureau of Customer and Provider Assistance

100 South Grand Avenue East

Springfield, Illinois 62762

Visit our web site at:


This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

DHS 4429 (R-05-17) More Fruits & Vegetables  Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois.  10,000 copies PO#17-1741