How To Get Your Kids To Want Healthier Foods!
If you think it’s hard getting kids to include lean protein with their meals try getting them to eat fruits and vegetables!
We all know fruits and vegetables are good for you. They are natural sources of vitamins and minerals.
Although fruits and vegetables are primarily carbohydrates, there are some varieties like mushrooms and soy bean that contain a healthy amount of protein.
And you can choose among a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that have low Glycemic Index ratings to keep their blood sugar under control.
For example, apples, oranges, grapefruit, broccoli and cauliflower have low Glycemic Index ratings.
In school, children are taught the many benefits that can be had with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Still most children leave their vegetables untouched on their plates.
The reasons range from the scientific: a study from Yale University shared the theory that children associate vegetables with poisonous plants, to intuition: parents often associate eating vegetables with “punishment”.
Regardless of their apprehensions, we cannot ignore the importance of having a healthy variety of fruits and vegetables in our children’s diet. The good news is it may not be as difficult as you think!
How To Get Your Kids To Eat Fruits And Vegetables
Add Vegetables To Their Favorite Foods
Kids love hamburgers! And meat is a great source of protein.
But did you know that adding vegetables into your patty not only makes your burger more nutritious but also juicier and tastier?
• For every kilo of 80/20 ground beef, dice 100 grams of onions, one large bell pepper, 100 grams of mushrooms, 10 cloves of garlic, 1 small carrot and a 1 celery stalk.
• In a pan, lightly sauté the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil or organic, unsalted butter. Mix in the following seasonings:
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
• Set the sautéed vegetables aside and wait to cool down.
• Mix in the cooled vegetables with the kilo of ground beef and mold into five 200 gram burger patties.
• Let the patties set inside the fridge for 15 minutes before grilling or pan frying them. Don’t forget to add sea salt lightly before cooking.
The vegetables make up approximately 1/3 of the burger mix. Lightly frying with extra virgin olive oil will not remove the nutrients.
In fact, cooking will caramelise the sugars found in vegetables and intensify its flavour.
Top with a grilled tomato to garnish the burger. Grilling a tomato activates more lycopene than eating it raw!
Get The Kids Involved
One of the best places to take kids for an education is the local supermarket.
The fruits and vegetables section is always an interesting destination. You are greeted with a plethora of smells and a vibrant array of colors.
Share valuable information and popular trivia with your kids before you pick your fruits and vegetables.
A better idea would be to let your kids pick them!
When you get home, have your kids get involved with the process of preparing vegetables.
Show them how to wash vegetables properly, correct handling and storage techniques.
While you are slicing the vegetables, explain to your kids why this vegetable is needed for this particular meal. Touch on its health benefits and how vegetables enhance flavour.
Finally, have your kids mix the vegetables into the recipe. If possible, get them to add the seasonings which when combined with cooking enhance aroma.
One way for kids to develop a taste for vegetables is to through smell. Our sense of taste is influenced by what we smell.
As they get immersed in the smell of cooking vegetables, they will come to associate it with good tasting food.
Group Vegetables Strategically
Researchers from Texas A & M shared results of their study on children’s eating behaviours which revealed an interesting twist on why they don’t eat vegetables.
According to the study, children did not eat vegetables when paired with their favorite foods such as chicken nuggets or pizza.
But when vegetables are paired with less popular food like baked potato or deli slices, children tend to eat more of them.
The idea is not to create competition among food groups.
A better approach would be to use the data to come up with meals that complement each food group and offer greater variety of choices.
Instead of burgers for dinner, why not grilled Chilean Sea Bass or Mahi-Mahi with a small serving of tomato, lettuce, cucumber and carrot salad lightly tossed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon and mustard dressing?
The tartness of the salad dressing goes well with these choices of fish which are very flavourful.
Make Desserts or Smoothies
Kids love sweets! But popular desserts like ice cream, donuts and cake are high in refined sugars which are bad for their health.
A better alternative would be to make desserts or smoothies.
Here are a few recipes you can try. All you need to do is add the ingredients in a blender and press “start”:
• Pineapple Carrot Puerto Rican Smoothie
- 1 cup frozen pineapple slices
- 1 small diced carrot
- ¾ can Coconut Milk
- 1 tablespoon natural honey
• Greek Yogurt Smoothie
- ½ cup orange juice
- ½ cup baby carrots
- 1 cup frozen pineapples
- ¾ cup Greek Yogurt
- ½ cup frozen mango slices
- 1 tablespoon honey
• “Berry” Healthy Smoothie
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 cups frozen mixed berries
- ¾ cup Greek Yogurt
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
Let your kids pour the ingredients into the blender and have one press the “start” button.
These smoothies are not only packed with nutrition but taste insanely great too!
Create Healthy Snacking Alternatives
Instead of having chips, cookies and lollies as snacks in the home, create healthier alternatives that also taste good.
Potato chips are high in sodium, fat and carbohydrates. A healthier alternative would be sweet potato fries.
Sweet potatoes are very flavourful and are good sources of healthy fibre.
Slice them thinly, sprinkle with a little salt and olive oil then bake in the oven. They will come out crispy and great tasting!
Instead of ice cream, why not offer a chilled yogurt dessert? Fill a few wine glasses with granola, muesli or uncooked oatmeal.
Top with Greek Yogurt and leave overnight in the fridge. Top with raisins before serving.
This dessert is high in fibre, protein and healthy carbohydrates.
Healthy food has been unfairly cast as being bland and lacking of flavour.
You just need to be creative in how you mix and match fruits and vegetables to come up with healthy yet great tasting meals.
As you have read, getting your kids to eat fruits and vegetables is not all that difficult.
Best of all, you get to find new and interesting ways to have quality time with them.