The obesity rate amongst South African children is increasing at an alarming rate, largely due to unhealthy eating habits.

It’s recommended that children (and adults) eat at least five portions of different vegetables and/or fruits a day. But, any parent can attest, this is sometimes a difficult task to achieve.

In light of National Obesity Week, Leanne Kiezer, a registered dietitian at Pick n Pay, has provided seven creative ways for parents to sneak extra veggies and fruits into their child’s meals and snacks:

1.  Add veggies to their favourite meal

Mix peas in mac and cheese, add shredded carrots to the spaghetti bolognaise sauce, or stir colourful beetroot and zucchini noodles into a regular spaghetti pasta. You could also make a deluxe pizza with a whole-wheat pita bread base and top it with vegetable toppings.

2.  Make it interesting

Blitz or purée vegetables and add them to rice and mashed potato for extra colour on their plates.

3.  “Fortify all your saucy meals

“Fortify” all your saucy meals, such as soups, stews and casseroles, with extra vegetables or canned beans.

4.  Offer raw finger foods

Children often prefer uncooked vegetables. They also love to dip them so choose a healthier dip options like tzatziki, hummus, salsa or even peanut butter.

5.  Use bright colours

To keep veggies appealing, steam or microwave them in a small amount of water, or stir fry them in a little oil. The main goal is to keep the cooking time to a minimum to ensure you keep the vegetable colours bright and the nutrients intact.

6.  Start a veggie club

Try to taste vegetables from A to Z, ticking off letters of the alphabet as you go. As you shop, ask your children to identify vegetables corresponding with each of the respective letters, allowing the veggie journey to become a family adventure!

7.  Make it a fun

Find a children’s book which features vegetables as characters, then as you read the story together, also taste the vegetables.

To assist in promoting healthy food choices and instilling lifelong healthy eating habits, over 200 Pick n Pay stores across the country now offer free fruit to shoppers’ children under the age of 12.

The Free Fruit for Kids initiative was originally launched in selected stores but was recently rolled out to include more stores nationally after overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers. Apples and bananas will be available all year, while other seasonal fruit will also be offered, such as nectarines, dessert peaches and plums, in the summer months.

For more healthy eating tips for kids, contact Pick n Pay’s registered dietitian on 0800 11 22 88 or via


Issued by Corporate Image on behalf of Pick n Pay