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No, I won't eat it!

If your children aren't fond of healthful foods, try these five ways to make fruits and veggies more appealing to kids.

Do your picky eaters turn up their noses at everything from A (apricots) to Z (zucchini)? If so, here are some homespun strategies for transforming young fruit and veggie haters into more adventurous (and healthier) food lovers.

1 Plant seeds for change. Picky eaters may be more enthusiastic about food they’ve grown themselves. Start them off with tomatoes or green peppers in pots. Clipping herbs from their own window garden might help change your yuck brigade into garnishing gourmets.

2 Organize a field trip. Visit a farmers market, where the farmers themselves can help kids choose the best cantaloupe or the tenderest butter lettuce.

Next stop: an ethnic grocery store. Savor the aromas, and have kids name the shapes and colors of the exotic fruits and veggies.

3 Raise the bar. Kids are more apt to eat something they’ve created themselves. So set up a family meal bar—a countertop buffet with bowls of sautéed or fresh veggies and all the other fixings for nutritious, build-your-own burritos, stuffed potatoes, salads or sandwiches.

4 Hide in plain view. Slip kale into smoothies, puree peaches to make a sauce for baked chicken or layer spinach into lasagna.

5 Name that food. Try boosting menu appeal through rebranding. Anyone up for snowballs (cauliflower), Jack’s giant raisins (prunes) or spare spears (asparagus)?

Whip up a new veggie dish with your child’s help, and name it after your young chef. The next thing you know, you may get regular requests for Josh’s Posh Squash, Avery’s Savory Yams or Eileen’s Silly Beans.

In the end, the more involved kids are—choosing recipes, shopping, peeling vegetables, stirring pots—the more likely they are to try new foods. And cooking together might help create habits for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Academy of Pediatrics; U.S. Department of Agriculture
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