People are often amazed when they see my three young daughters eat. It’s not because they are picky or eat like little pigs but rather because they are such great eaters. Parents are always asking me how I got them to love fruits and vegetables. The truth is I just introduced them to healthy food choices at an early age. They’ve also grown up seeing me eat a lot of nutritious foods which in turn made them want to eat like me.
Kids are very observant especially about what we say, how we act and what we put inside our bodies. If we teach them at an early age how delicious nutritious foods are and can be, they will have a positive association with them. Now, if your child does not like fruits and veggies or is a picky eater, there are simple swaps we can incorporate for them to have a change of heart.
If your child loves potato chips, instead of buying those bags filled with oils, acrylamide, salts, and fake flavorings make your own at home. You can bake a variety in the convenience of your own kitchen. And there is so much you can do. Sweet potato, plantain, yams, kale, apple, brussels sprouts, carrot, bok choy are just a few of the food items that can be baked into chips. And it is so easy to do that the process takes just about 20 minutes including prep time. Preheat the oven to 350 to 400 degrees (depending on your chosen food item), cut the vegetable into thin slices, mix with either grapeseed, coconut or olive oil and add your desired seasonings. Bake for about 20 minutes, let it cool and then serve them healthy and delicious chips.
What if your kids love those cookies, donuts, and pastries that have a year expiration date (yuck!)? Well then let’s swap those items with delicious yet nutritious ones. Fruit would be the first suggestion but I know its not the same as a cookie in a kid’s mind. So, let’s make them a healthy version of a cookie. We can add some oatmeal, peanut butter, dark cacao, tart cherries and instead of using butter, we use unsweetened applesauce. I’ve done a few different varieties in my household and each one has been unique, tasty and healthy.
If your kid loves pastries, I have found that using Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and filling them with fruits and jams has often satisfied their sweet tooth. Just keep in mind that Pillsbury rolls have trans fat and should only be consumed periodically.
If your kid is an ice cream lover, we can excite them with homemade frozen fruit desserts. I have frozen blueberries and bananas and have served them to a variety of kids and none have complained. But if they want more of that smooth and silky consistency, then all we have to do is put them in our blender. It’s as easy as a few frozen ripped bananas, cocoa powder, peanut butter, vanilla extract, and blend. If you want a little creamier then just add a little bit of plant-based milk. Immediately serve or freeze a few hours. You can add and change the equation to the taste buds of your kids. It is really easier than most people think!
Eating healthy shouldn’t feel like a struggle or inconvenience. We have so much information at our fingertips. The internet is a source filled with millions of unique, flavorful and healthy recipes. We need to become more involved and aware of what our children consume. There are so many toxins and preservatives in our foods and snack options that we need to become wiser consumers. It is our responsibility and duty to help our children have better selections. Since there aren’t many options out there, it’s up to us to just make them at home. Not only do we know what we are putting into their bodies but it gives us an opportunity to bond with our kids. You can cook and bake together and create cherished memories and sacred bonds. Cooking together shows our kids how to make healthy selections and feel accomplished at the end result. And who knows, maybe we instill healthy cooking traditions that our kids will use for years to come.