If kids won’t eat their veggies, you can always juice them! Juice removes a lot of beneficial fiber from fruits and veggies, but you do get some of the fiber and a lot of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients in home-made juice.
Juice is pretty sugary (even if it’s homemade, especially if we use sugary fruits like apples, oranges and pineapple). It’s good remember juice can always be watered down for kids and it’ll still taste great and be extra hydrating.
Juice is often recommended to help small children with constipation. Apple, pear and especially prune juice are typically recommended, but most juice will help move things along due to the water, fiber and digestive enzymes in fruits and veggies.
Food-play activities with juice can start at the grocery store (or garden, if you’re getting any ingredients from the garden). Let kids help choose the fruits and veggies to juice. Check out this great post about A Child’s Connection To Nature Food And Self from the blog Greener Me for even more reasons to get kids involved in the process of bringing food to the table.
Kids learn so much about foods from trips to gardens and grocery stores! They also see how you are interacting with foods. Each trip to the grocery store is an opportunity to teach kids how beautiful and amazing each food is that we pick to put in our bodies. And if you think about fruits and veggies as beautiful and amazing, over time your kids really will learn to see them that way, too!
If you have a juicer, you can pick almost any fruits and veggies for your juice. Have a field day! Though you may want to go with some tried and true combinations as you’re learning what tastes good together. I learned this one the hard way! My first juice home-made juice was an undrinkable hodge-podge, and that’s putting it nicely! I went back to juicing one fruit at a time until I built up a little confidence with combinations. One-fruit juices are definitely a delicious option!
If you don’t have a juicer, citrus is your best bet for hand-juicing (though you may want to stay away from citrus if you or your child has reflux.)
Let kids help wash fruits and veggies before juicing (another opportunity to touch and learn about food) and then juice away! Follow safety instructions for any equipment with a blade and make some juice!
If your picky eater isn’t ready to drink juice, you can play with it to learn about it and get comfortable with it.
Language and Senses:
Focus on using your senses to explore the juice and give your child the language to talk about how the juice smells, moves, feels, tastes, even what it sounds like. Can they hear the sound when it drips or splashes?
Pour from cup to cup or little pitcher to pitcher. I like using creamer pitchers with kids because they’re the perfect size for little hands.
Spoon juice from bowl to bowl. This is a great activity to practice using a spoon with thin liquids. It takes a steady hand and concentration to spoon juice or soup broth. This is a great way to practice for kids who are used to using a spoon with puree.
Drip juice on a tray or plate using a straw, a spoon or your finger. Explore how it drips, how it runs.. Play connect the drips with your finger, a spoon or straw.
Add A Song:
Make up a song about what you are doing with food. Keep the words and message positive. We don’t want to sing about how gross the food looks, but other than that, pretty much anything goes! I make up a lot of songs to the “I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas” song. You can give kids the language of what you’re doing in a song and tell them that you like doing it, that it’s fun!
You could sing that you like to drip the juice on the tray, that you like squeezing an orange, that you like pouring the juice. Have fun!
Enjoy! Happy food-play!