As a mom of two boys, I’ve learned that the easiest way to interest them in something is to fully engage them in activities focused on that topic.

In my house, while learning our colors, we spent an entire day submerged in all things green: wearing head-to-toe green clothes, playing with dinosaurs and eating a lunch full of green foods.

When my oldest started to learn American history, we made sure that our beach trip included a tour of a WWII fort, and during the month of November we created a huge Tree of Thanks in our foyer as we remembered to be thankful.

When I started my tenure at Produce for Kids this spring, I wanted to make sure that my family was walking the talk: eating healthy fruits and vegetables and loving it!

Children are more likely to try new foods when they are part of the preparation. In other words, if you want your children to eat their veggies, bring them into the kitchen with you and let them help!

With this thought in mind, we recently visited a local orchard to pick our own apples. Even though the boys do eat apples, I thought bringing them to an orchard would get them excited about trying more apple dishes. Plus, an orchard visit would be the perfect way to show them how apples go from farm to table.

We went, we picked, we conquered. They boys learned about the different varieties of apples, which ones we liked the best and what happens to all the apples that fall off the trees.

I was happy with how engaged they were and surprised with the questions they asked (“Why are apples shiny in the store, but not here?”).

I was also able to give them a little insider knowledge of the extra steps taken when we buy apples at our local grocery store and remind them how lucky we are to be able to access fresh, delicious and healthy food whenever we want.

Our next challenge: to find ways to eat all of the apples we picked! We will definitely be making this Pork Chops & Cinnamon Apples recipe, one of my favorites, and I can’t wait to try even more of our apple recipes.

I’m hoping that activities like this one, along with allowing them to work next to me in the kitchen, will inspire their growing pallets and encourage them to try new foods.

I believe that children hold so tightly to control what they eat because in their worlds, amongst rules, bedtimes and sometimes too many no’s, it may be one of the only things they can control.

Unfortunately, in our family, that equates to dinnertime battles. Maybe if my boys learn more about the fruits, veggies and other foods I serve, these battles will subside and our dinner table will be a peaceful place to come together, decompress from our day, learn from each other and eat a healthy, nourishing meal.