How to get kids eating healthy food in an unhealthy world
First things first - never give up.
Their healthy patterns for life are at stake. Even if your children seem to dislike a new veggie at first, keep on trying. It can take between five and 10 exposures for your children to warm up to a new food.
Here are some tips that work when trying to pump your children full of the good stuff. By Earthsave team member Jennifer
Ground flaxseed can be hidden in ANYTHING. Smoothies, sauces, mixed into condiments, sprinkled between layers of casseroles, etc. It is high in protein and fibre, and provides a healthy dose of omega 3s.
There are alot of greens that look similar. Mix it up. Iceberg, leaf, romaine, kale, mustard greens, swiss chard. If you get into the habit of shredding it all, it looks relatively the same.
Don’t ask them. Just serve. If you attempt to get your kids’ opinions about trying new foods, chances are, you’ll be disappointed. Just slightly change a fave dish (instead of lettuce on those tacos, use cabbage or kale), and hopefully they’ll be more receptive than if you introduced a whole new one.
Make your own food. Instead of canned chili, make it. It’s super easy, and then you can control what goes in there. (Add flax.) This way, you can get your kids involved in the process, and at the very least, you’re not exposing them to foods that were swimming around in BPA. (Toxic plastic.)
Don’t buy anything white– use whole wheat or better yet, sprouted grain. By substituting white bread for sprouted hemp, it adds a whole new wack of nutrients. Don’t comprimise. Just stop buying the empty stuff and start with the better products. If they don’t have a choice, it will be easier.
You can throw hemp hearts and rolled oats into all of your baking. Also, cut the sugar in half.
Purchase items with fewer ingredients. For example, some snack bars have about 20 different ingredients in them, whereas others have only 4 is better.
Make it fun. Let your kids sprout with you or plant veggies. If they see it grow, they will be more likely to try it.
Make breakfast smoothies. Smoothies are fun, and a great way to incorporate different varieties of fresh or frozen produce. You can also make popsicles (make a fruit & veggie smoothie, and then pour into moulds). I like to throw an avocado in smoothies– you can’t see them or taste them, but it makes them super creamy.
Puree veggies and add them to sauces.
Example: if you’re making pasta, puree some butternut squash and an avocado, and add it to the sauce. It will be delicious, and your kids will never know.
Vary your grains. Instead of making rice, make couscous or quinoa. Instead of cold breakfast cereal, try oatmeal. Think ‘variety.’ Your kids probably like a whole host of good food–they just haven’t tried it yet.
Some kid-friendly healthy snack and meal ideas:
Snacks: Apples and peanut/almond butter, veggies with hummus, hummus and grainy crackers, smoothies, fruit salad, homeade trail mix (kids like making this), frozen blueberries, dried fruit, fruit kabobs, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Get creative. If your kids see melon balls with toothpicks sticking out of them, they’ll probably go for it, big-time! Make applesauce with them! Bake pears with cinnamon and oats! Make brownies with black beans!
Meal Ideas: Lettuce wraps, fajitas (use vegan ground round or mushrooms instead of meat), make your own veggie pizza, veggie kabobs, chickpea dishes (kids usually love chickpeas and kidney beans). Sides? Try homeade yam or sweet potato fries, or mash some cauliflower into your potato dish– the idea is to just try and vary the foods your kiddies are consuming.Have the Buffet:
If all else fails, try the “buffet”: assemble a plate of healthy snacks, and let your kids go at it. Fresh and whole trumps processed every single time.
More from Jennifer Browne here