5 a Day for Me, You, & Our Kids too!

February 28th, 2017 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Live Well Omaha Kids spoke to Stephanie Edson, MS, RDN, LD, LMNT – a registered dietitian/nutritionist and licensed medical nutrition therapist employed by SpartanNash – about easy ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into everyday meals. Her message aligns with Go Nebraska Kids’ 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® countdown, which recommends kids eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

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You most likely have heard that half of our plates should be filled with fruits and veggies; however, that is not always as easy as it sounds. While fruits and veggies provide many nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients, it can be a challenge to get children, and adults, to eat the recommended servings each day.

So how many servings of fruits and veggies do we need every day? Think of the ‘5-4- 3-2- 1 Go!® – The Healthy Kids Countdown: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, 4 servings of water a day, 3 servings of low-fat dairy a day, 2 hours or less of screen time a day, and 1 or more hours of physical activity a day’; This countdown not only applies to kids, but adults too! Since ‘one serving’ of fruits and veggies can vary based on age, an easy recommendation to remember is ‘one tablespoon of fruit and one tablespoon of veggie’ per meal per year of age. For example, an eight-year-old child should have ½ cup fruit and ½ cup veggies at meals and ½ cup of fruit or veggies at snacks. For an adult, 1 cup of a fresh fruit or veggie or 1/2 cup of canned or frozen is considered one serving. Two servings of fruit and three servings of veggies are appropriate and total the five recommended servings each day.

While it is important for parents to serve fruits and veggies at meals and snacks, it is up to the child to eat them. Instead of pushing your child to consume a specific amount of fruits and veggies, always put a scoop on their plate and make sure there is plenty available if they want more. This follows the Division of Responsibility in Feeding which allows children grow up as competent eaters. For more information on the Division of Responsibility in Feeding, please visit: http://ellynsatterinstitute.org/dor/divisionofresponsibilityinfeeding.php

When selecting fruits and veggies, go for color! Each different colored fruit and veggie contain different nutrients and by choosing a wide range of colorful fruits and veggies we will get the nutrition we need. If serving an apple at breakfast, you could serve grapes and broccoli for lunch, berries for a snack, and sweet potato for dinner.

A common question many parents find themselves asking is ‘How can I add more fruit and veggies into meals and snacks?’; Here are a few ideas to get you started:


  • Add fruits and veggies to smoothies
  • Add fruit to oatmeal or cold breakfast cereals
  • Add grated, shredded or chopped veggies to scrambled eggs
  • Add grated, shredded or chopped veggies to pancake or muffin batter


  • Use whole fruit instead of jelly on sandwiches
  • Use avocado or hummus in place of mayo on sandwiches and wraps
  • Add veggies to sandwiches and wraps


  • Replace half of the ground meat in a recipe with lentils or beans
  • Add grated, shredded or chopped veggies to lasagna, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce, casseroles, and stews
  • Add extra veggies to pizza


  • Offer crunchy veggies with hummus or a yogurt dipping sauce
  • Replace candy pieces with dried fruit in trail mixes


  • Serve fruit with a light yogurt
  • Serve cookies or other baked goods made with oats and have fruits and/or veggies incorporated into the dough or batter

Picky eater or not, here are a few additional tips to encourage your child to eat more fruits and veggies:

  • Get kids involved in the kitchen – Children enjoy being involved and take a greater interest when involved. In the kitchen, find safe and simple ways to engage your child from selecting which item to serve to add ingredients in a recipe to helping serve the item, children are more likely to eat fruits and veggies when they can help at some point in the preparation process.
  • Always offer a fruit and/or veggie at every meal and snack – Being sure to offer a fruit and veggie at each meal or snack for a minimum of five fruits and veggies each day.
  • Continue to offer fruit and veggie alternatives on a regular basis – Even if your child does not like a specific fruit or veggie, it is okay to still offer them on occasion. Instead of always offering the fruit or veggie prepared a specific way, try a different method of preparation or recipe.
  • Be a good role model – As a parent and/or role model, we should also be consuming 5 servings of fruit and veggies each day too. When we role model healthy habits, our children will notice and be more likely to make healthier choices.

For more information on adding fruits and veggies to meals and snacks, please visit: http://www.eatright.org/resources/for-parents and http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/ Remember, More Matters!

As healthy habits are established, eating the recommended five servings of fruits and veggies should become less of a challenge over time. Keep in mind the goal of a variety of fruits and veggies, and five or more servings of fruit and veggies each day to meet nutrient needs. When prepared with care just like main dishes, fruits and veggies take center stage on the plate. Check out your local Family Fare Supermarket for fresh produce and a variety of better-for- you foods at better-for- you prices. Have fun with your child on your culinary adventure to health.

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Stephanie Edson, MS, RDN, LD, LMNT is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and licensed medical nutrition therapist who is employed by SpartanNash as a Regional Wellness Specialist. Stephanie is a resource for employees and customers at the Family Fare supermarkets in Nebraska and Iowa. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from Iowa State University and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. Stephanie also completed her Master of Science degree in nutrition and health sciences from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Stephanie is ready to provide creative and realistic ways to incorporate healthy eating practices for all lifestyles. With a passion for integrative nutrition and overall wellness, she has a wealth of information to help everyone from busy families with young children to older adults. Stephanie was a 2015 Produce for Better Health (PBH) Supermarket Dietitian of the year and keeps up-to-date on current nutrition through continuing education opportunities.  Contact Stephanie at (402) 968-7070 or stephanie.edson@spartannash.com.

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