If your child wrinkles his nose at vegetables on his dinner plate, try juicing raw vegetables. Although fresh-squeezed vegetable juice doesn't contain as much fiber as whole vegetables, children still benefit from the vitamins and minerals in the juice, according to registered dietitian Elizabeth Ward, a medical adviser at Kaboose.com.
Veggie Juice Facts
If your child will consume vegetable juice, offer it. Many children refuse to eat vegetables, but any form of healthy vegetable consumption is better than none. For example, 1 cup of fresh raw chopped tomato provides 2.2 g of fiber, while an 8-ounce glass of tomato juice contains just 1 g of fiber. Don't rely solely on fresh vegetable juice to meet your child's dietary needs because too much fresh high-fiber juice can cause diarrhea. Continue to incorporate whole vegetables in soups, pasta sauces, casseroles and sandwiches, or serve them raw with a creamy ranch dip.
To get the most health benefits from fresh vegetable juice, wash the vegetables thoroughly. Choose organic vegetables over chemically treated produce, if possible. Clean the outer skins carefully because the whole vegetable will get juiced. Scrub away any soil from the vegetables using a vegetable brush with a brisk motion under cool running water. Avoid packaged produce washes, as they can leave chemical contaminants in the skin of porous vegetables.
Because children usually like sweets, pair vegetables and fruit when juicing. Beta carotene-rich carrots taste great with sweet, ripe apples. For extra zip, add a small wedge of lemon to the juicer. When juicing tomatoes, add a stalk of celery, carrots, green peppers and parsley. Or try a refreshing mix of cucumber and cantaloupe.
Serve fresh-squeezed vegetable juice immediately after preparing, to get the most nutrients from the juice. Add a few ice cubes to the child's cup and pour the juice in. If your child refuses to drink the colorful beverage, use the fresh-squeezed juice as a soup base. Add hearty protein-packed lentils, fiber-rich whole wheat noodles or cubes of cooked chicken for a simple soup. Fresh juice can also serve as the base for a homemade pasta sauce. Just add stewed tomatoes and your favorite Italian seasonings. When in doubt, freeze the fresh juice in frozen-treat molds for a warm-weather snack.
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