Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Getting little ones to eat healthy

Having trouble getting your kids to eat spinach?  Here's some tips on how to "sneak" nutrition into your child's meals and get them involve with making healthy choices.
          From the desk of Brittany Jimenez, RN
Brittany Jimenez, RN
All Hands on Deck: Keep those little hands busy! While at the grocery store or farmer’s market let your child help to put fruits and veggies in the cart. Encourage them to pick out foods by colors and letters- turn shopping into a game! By being active participants at the store, you are also helping them to develop good eating habits for life!

Main Squeeze: Buy a healthy whole-wheat pancake mix or make your own. Put the batter into a squeeze bottle and let breakfast (or dinner) fun begin! Squeeze the batter into letters, numbers, and fun shapes. Bring out the creative genius in your child by letting them make there own pancake (supervised, of course). Don’t have syrup on hand? Problem solved- offer fresh fruits and encourage your child to decorate their very own pancake! I bet they will eat the whole thing!

Master of Disguise: Parents often feel at a loss when it comes to getting healthy foods into the mouths of babes. Become a master of disguise and slip nutritious foods into every day dishes! Most children love noodles. They are fun shapes and can be very colorful. Open a jar of spaghetti sauce or make your own- slice and dice your way through a few leaves of spinach, kale, or fresh basil, throw it into the sauce and serve! Delicious and nutritious!

What child doesn’t love a colorful smoothie? Buy fresh or frozen berries, plain yogurt, add any milk (soy, almond, lactose free), a handful of oats and blend away! Keep it green- add spinach, kale, apples and cucumbers! Children love to watch as the ingredients become blended into a colorful and delicious drink. Add a crazy straw or fruit kabob, maybe even a little umbrella and pretend you’re at the beach!

Skinny Dippin’: Children love to dip their food! Most children are more willing to eat and try new foods if they can dip it! Yogurts, applesauce, hummus, peanut butter (if there are no nut allergies in the family) are all healthier choices then ready made ketchups and dressings. Make your own healthy ketchup or ranch dressing using yogurt instead of sour cream--let your child help to stir and make the dressing and chances are they will be more apt to try that slice of red pepper or cucumber later on!

Taste Test: Have your very own taste test at home! Slice up a few different fruits and veggies and then tally each family members preferences on a poster board or piece of paper. Who frowned their nose at radishes or kiwi and then discovered how delicious they were? Who liked carrots or pineapple the most, the least? Not only do children love games and spending family time together, they may discover a new fruit or veggie they love!

Bob the Builder: Let you child into the kitchen! Tie on an apron or a parent’s old shirt and let that little chef out! Small hands are great at rolling out pizza dough. Offer healthy toppings (even some of that sauce that has disguised veggies!) and let that little chef make their very own pizza. Children love to watch as their pizza comes alive! Make fruit kabobs with a yogurt dip, breadsticks, or granola bars- the possibilities are endless!

Have a Ball: Children like meatballs- they are easy to eat with and can be dipped as well. Gather healthy ingredients like lean ground beef, turkey, chicken or tofu. Use oats, and spices like garlic or basil, and an egg. You can add things like chopped peppers, onions, spinach or kale depending on your family’s preference. Mix all ingredients, roll into small balls, and bake in the oven. The meatballs can be reheated in sauces or soups or for a quick snack or toddler meal with cooked noodles or veggies.

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