Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting kids to eat their veggies

From the desk of PHA nurse practitioner Romina Gieseman:

Our nurse practitioners at PHA provide nutrition consults and have experience not only as health care providers but as parents who also try their best to provide nutritious meals to their own families.

The biggest obstacle in presenting vegetables to our children is in making them taste terrific. Here are some tips and recipes from our nurse practitioners:

1) Start with vegetables that are in season. They cost less money and taste the best. In spring it may be brussel sprouts, cabbage, green beans and asparagus. In summer: carrots, broccoli, spinach, alfalfa sprouts, corn and cauliflower. In fall: kale, zucchini, squash, pumpkin and cucumbers.

2) Do not overcook vegetables. Remember that boiling takes the most vitamins out of your vegetables. Overcooked vegetables has the least amount of flavor, color, look soggy and have lost most of the fiber that gives it its shape.

3) Steam vegetables in a steamer basket (a metal one that opens and closes and therefore is adjustable to fit in your pots) It is acceptable to serve these vegetables with a little margarine and salt to taste. This method retains the most vitamins. Steaming most vegetables for 5-7 minutes works the best.

4) Bake french fries at home. Cut sweet potatoes or Idaho potatoes and place on cookie sheet and spray with canola oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 min. Bake cut up cauliflower on a cookie sheet after mixing it in a bowl with canola oil, followed by bread crumbs, powdered parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 min. turning once.

5) Stir fry broccoli in a wok with one tablespoon of canola oil and a minced clove of garlic. Only stir fry for 5 minutes. Add soy sauce or salt to taste. Stir fry fresh kale in the same way and serve with black beans from a can and brown rice for a filling meal.

6) Serving vegetables as an appetizer before dinner may get them to eat them as they get hungrier waiting for dinner to be ready.

Be the best role model you can as a parent.  Kids are most likely to try vegetables only after they see their parents eat them and sometimes it takes 17 tries before they will taste it. Be patient and do not push them; let your child come around to it on their own.

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