If you're like most parents, you struggle to get your kids to eat healthy food. As adults, we understand that fruits and veggies are good for our bodies, and some of us even enjoy certain healthy foods. But it's a little harder to pass that knowledge and appreciation on to our children.
Many parents give up on trying to find appealing healthy food for children, and they resign themselves to serving "kid food." But this doesn't have to be you! Even if you're not a "health food family," there are creative ways to sneak some healthier choices into your kids' meals.
1. Be Deceptive
Being deceptive isn't usually a good thing, but in this case, this just means disguising those not-so-well-loved veggies! There are many ways to sneak veggies in, without kids noticing. Consider pureeing cauliflower to add to scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes (the neutral color will keep kids from discovering your secret!). Or, chop green and yellow zucchini (peeled) very finely and add it to other dishes. I once heard of someone throwing a can of black beans into her brownie mix, and beating it until the beans disappeared. Apparently the kids never caught on to that one....
2. Buy and Offer Healthy Choices
This method requires controlling what food you keep in stock. If your freezer is full of Eggo waffles, then of course your kids will want them! And those jars of sugar-filled Nutella are just calling your kids' names.... What if you make almond flour waffles (these often have no sugar and they are a protein-filled alternative) and keep them stocked in the freezer? They taste almost like the real thing, and because they are accessible, your kids likely won't complain. And what about the Nutella? There are healthy alternatives to that, too, and they taste just as good. (These are readily accessible at your nearby health food store. And sometimes typical grocery stores offer them, too!)
3. Offer Some Special Treats
The key to changing your kids' eating habits is not to take everything away from them. Instead, begin by offering grilled cheese sandwiches on whole-wheat bread once or twice a week. And maybe offer yogurt with fruit instead of ice cream. But don't take away the desserts and other favorite foods altogether, or you will have a rebellion in your house! And keep some yummy treats on hand--Just make sure they don't have too much corn syrup or too many preservatives. For example, whipped cream is a relatively healthy treat that tastes sweet, too. Give your kids a bowl of fresh fruit covered with layers of fluffy whipped cream....They likely won't complain about that healthy choice!
4. Make Fruits and Veggies Exciting
Do your kids have a favorite fruit or vegetable? If they do, build on that foundation. If your son likes cucumbers, or at least will eat them when forced to do so, then let him spread cream cheese all over his cucumber slices. Or build little boats with celery, peanut butter, and raisins. Eventually you might be able to branch out a little. "You really liked cream cheese on cucumbers, right? What if we try some cream cheese on these strips of bell pepper? You might really like it...." And so on. (Some of us adults still like melted cheese on broccoli, so that's worth a shot too!)
There are countless ways to get your kids a little more excited about healthy food. For more ideas, contact us.