How to get your kids to eat healthy food
One of the greatest nutrition challenges facing mothers is, how to get their children to eat healthy food, especially fruits and vegetables. In our world of sugar, fat and salt laden processed foods, made to entice the taste buds, and induce addiction to keep you coming back for more the challenge is fierce. Is it possible to get processed food loving kids to eat their fruits and veggies? Absolutely.
The first step is to clean up the home environment. Kids may beg for their usual treats and snacks and you may face resistance at first, but over time they will become accustomed to new, healthier eating habits. Remove any snack food that contains: White flour, sugar, MSG, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors or any ingredient you do not recognize.
Once you have cleaned up the pantry, it’s time to introduce fun, healthy, kid friendly foods. Start by having the kids make a list of their favorite fruits and vegetables. Post the list on the fridge and each time they ask for a snack, refer to the list and have them choose. Giving children a choice of their favorite fruits or vegetables will help melt away resistance.
One of the greatest arsenals in a mothers bag of tricks is, hiding vegetables and fruit in favorite foods. This is one sure fire way to get children eating their fruits and vegetables without much resistance. I have added black beans, shredded zucchini and beets to brownie recipes with success. I make cookies with mashed banana, applesauce and 1 Tb. stevia instead of high sugar varieties, add some grain sweetened chocolate chips and the kids will truly enjoy these healthy cookies.
Blend yellow squash, carrots, zucchini or other lightly flavored vegetables into sauces you put on casseroles, pasta or other dishes. The blending hides the vegetable in the sauce so children will not know it is there.
The addition of carrot juice to tomato based sauces creates a delicious flavor and a hint of sweetness. This can be added to marinara, salsa, enchilada sauces and other tomato based sauce. Why add carrot juice?
It adds a lot of nutrition to the meal, in 1 c. of carrot juice you add the following percentage of the RDA to the meal: protein 2g, vitamin A 1935%, Vitamin B1 20%, vitamin B2 12%, vitamin B6 39%, vitamin C 27%, vitamin E 18%, vitamin K 41%, calcium 6%, iron 6%, zinc 6%, manganese, 17% and many other nutrients and phytochemicals.
Tips for fun kid friendly snacks:
Celery with peanut butter and little raisins on top
Make very thin apple slices and spread peanut butter or almond butter on one slice, top with another slice for apple sandwiches.
Cabbage leaf spread with peanut butter or almond butter, filled with sliced banana. you could also add [raisins, apple, grain sweetened chocolate chips, or berries]
Have your child help you make a salad with their favorite veggies and fruit, make a poppy seed dressing with your child and then sit down and enjoy your salad together.
Vegetables in fun foods for kids:
Cheese sauce: 1 potato, 1/2 c. onion, 2/3 c. carrot steamed until softened, put in a blender and add: 1/2 c. cashews, 1/3 c. nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder and 1 tsp. salt. Add some water if needed and blend until creamy.
My kids love to dip their veggies in this cheese sauce, it also works well on whole grain pasta, steamed veggies and sautéed spinach or kale.
Make a vegetable Panini sandwich with whole grain bread, spinach, cucumber, avocado, grated carrot, dash of salt. Grill in a pan until browned.
Green smoothies: The best way to make a smoothie for a child is to use blueberries or a slice of fresh beet to color the smoothie and disguise the greens. Simple recipe: 1 c. water, 1 banana, 1/2 c. blueberries, 1 c. spinach, 1/2 Tb. flax meal.
Add shredded yellow squash, zucchini and other vegetables to casseroles and other dishes.
Homemade fresh fajita bean dip for veggies.
Spiralize vegetables and fruit to make them fun for kids. This can be done with beets, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, daikon radish, cucumber, apples, and many other fruits and vegetables. You can lightly steam the vegetables with a dash of sea salt and top with the cheese sauce or marinara, or use them raw with poppy seed dressing or your child’s favorite sauce.
One great way to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables is to have them help you prepare the meal. Children enjoy the opportunity to select the foods they eat and help prepare the meal they eat. This is a very simple, and yet effective way to allow children to be creative, involved and enjoy healthy food they have prepared themselves.
What are the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables?
1 medium Zucchini
Protein 2.5 g
Vit. A 17%
Vit. K 9%
Omega 3′s 11%
Vegetables are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals that fight disease. In fact, vegetables also contain a good amount of protein as well. According to the Center for Disease Control fruits and veggies matter website: “Compared with people who consume a diet with only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers.”
The vitamin C complex found in whole fruits and vegetables boosts the immune system, promotes healthy teeth and gums, and promotes healing from injury. Isolated supplemental vitamin C does not contain the whole complex of compounds and cofactors that offer these health benefits, we need to get these nutrients from whole food.
Fruits and vegetables contain omega 3 fatty acids necessary for optimal health. 1 zucchini contains 11%, 1 c. steamed spinach has 15%, 1 yellow squash has 11%, 1 c. blueberries 8%, 1 c. raspberries has 14%. Fruits and vegetables contain a healthy balance of fatty acids, including omega 3′s.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Regular consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer disease, cataracts, and some of the functional declines associated with aging.”
Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):517S-520S.
Fruits and vegetables have shown to have powerful, positive effects on health, mothers should encourage their children to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day. It may prove a challenge at first, but the health benefits for your children are well worth the extra effort.
About the Author
Bachelors degree in Natural Health Science with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition, Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University, Certificate as a Nutritional Herbalist, Owner and Chef of The Peaceful Kitchen. http://www.thepeacefulkitchen.blogspot.com http://www.healthydietplanrecipes.com