If today you tried, and it was a bust:
How I help my family eat healthy. . .even when they don't want to.
Getting kids to make healthy choices is a long process. Like years long. They seem to be born with an innate desire to avoid anything green or remotely healthy, unless it is Skittles or M&M’s. As a mom of 6 kids, I have had my own experiences with picky eaters, as I’m sure many of you have as well.
I know you’ve heard the tip about involving kids in the cooking process. How it helps kids
want to try something new or different because they’ve had a part in making it (it does). Or how it gives them a sense of accomplishment and belonging (it does). But the downside is it takes a lot longer to do anything when kids are involved. It just does. And sometimes, if I can be honest, that’s the last thing you want to deal with at the end of a long day. The same with the tips about letting kids grow something they’ve picked out. Or letting them pick out something at the grocery store or farmer’s market to try. These are all good ideas, and they do work. However, they take time and sometimes you just want faster and easier.
I have to attribute this one to my stepmom. What kid is going to fight a cool, creamy treat? Probably the one that doesn’t know you’ve put frozen spinach or kale in the blender, along with yogurt (using Greek yogurt ups the protein), your choice of milk or juice. But when there’s frozen strawberries, peaches or bananas to cover the taste, it’s even better! The combinations are endless (if you don’t believe me, just Google it) and the opportunity to make it healthy is equally as endless. Some of my boys’ favorite foods to put in a smoothie are frozen strawberries, frozen peaches, frozen blueberries, canned pineapple and of course, either fresh or frozen spinach. If you find you’ve made too much, freeze the extra and bam! Smoothie pops!
Vegetable powder. . .
This is a personal favorite of mine. My husband and I invested in a little dehydrator a few years ago and I went to it. I dehydrated just about anything I could get my hands on. Bananas, apple rings, tomatoes -- we’ve even tried jerky! After some successes, and many failures, I stumbled across articles on powdered vegetables. It hit me -- why couldn’t I add dehydrated crushed up vegetables to dishes to give my kids (and my diabetic husband) extra nutrition? Y’all, spinach is so very good but it’s green. And good for you. So, chances are, kids won’t exactly jump for joy over it. But what if it was dehydrated, pulverized and sprinkled in… oh, I don’t know… spaghetti sauce? Or in meatloaf? Or in every kid’s favorite blue box of macaroni and cheese? It looks like parsley! Spinach powder is a go-to for me in most of our dinners. Another favorite is mushroom powder, as well as black bean powder. I use these three the most. Y’all, I have even put them in oatmeal cookies. OATMEAL COOKIES!!! I had no problem giving my family those cookies, let me tell you. These powders add nutrients, fiber, protein, iron and vitamins, and I feel a little better knowing my family is getting these benefits.
While I haven’t tried these yet, I’m looking forward to trying them this spring and summer. To make yogurt bark, spread your favorite yogurt on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet, top with fruit, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or maybe even chocolate chips. Freeze and break into pieces. For yogurt drops, put yogurt in a Ziploc bag, cut the end off and squeeze little drops down on a parchment covered cookie sheet and freeze. Granted, these have to be stored in the freezer, but I figure these and frozen grapes will make nice healthy treats to help my kids (and husband) cool down, especially this summer.
I do believe the biggest tip I can share with you is to cut yourself a break. If today you tried and it was a bust, tomorrow is a new day full of new chances. Hang in there.
This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Magan.
About Magan. . .
I am a mom to 6, 5 of whom are boys, and my husband is diabetic. I have picky eaters (and toddlers) so mealtimes can definitely be a challenge. I love to cook and make things from scratch when time allows. I do my best to meal plan and shop wisely to make mealtimes easier, but I’m not above having hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for dinner, lol.
Want more information on this topic? wichealth.org has a free online lesson called Help Your Child Develop Healthy Eating Habits. Find it on wichealth.org in the Feeding Your 2 To 5-Year-Old category!