Holiday Strategies for Serving More Whole Grains
In this week's guest post, Kanmani shares strategies for adding more whole grains to your family's holiday menus. For more tips, try taking our free Go For Whole Grains lesson! You can find this free lesson under the Healthy Families category on wichealth.org.
The holiday season is one time of the year, where nutritional concerns go out of focus and get overshadowed by the glitter of candy, sweets, yummy desserts, cakes, cookies, and all the holiday goodies which may not be all that "goody good" for the body!
As a parent, it is important for me to make sure that my family maintains a healthy diet, even during the holiday season. But who wants to be a spoilsport and ruin the holidays by banning candy altogether? The goal is only to be more health-conscious, not become the holiday grouch!
Below are some strategies I plan to use, to ensure that my family, especially my child, gets plenty of whole grains and healthy nutrition.
I like to mix in the healthful goodies into the holiday feasts. The breakfast dosa ( rich South Indian crepes made of fermented and fried rice and beans) is my little one’s favorite dish in the mornings. I mix millet flour or barley flour into it, to include more whole grains into the dish.
My little one also loves sweet fruit smoothies and puddings. I often add some baby cereals and grains into them. These can be added without significantly altering the taste or texture of the food.
I also make sweet cereal porridges. The Instant Pot has been quite a handy device, to help me make a variety of different sweet cereal and fruit-based porridges quickly and easily. One easy recipe involves putting in some rice, jaggery (a type of brown sugar), moong dal (like split peas) or green gram, water and a touch of milk into the Instant Pot. I let the mixture cook for 3-4 minutes in the Instant Pot. Meanwhile, I heat some butter in a pan, with almonds, cashews, raisins, and other nuts. Finally, I cook the grain mixture into it, to make it into a sweet and nutritious yummy treat!
Popsicles, cakes, and candy pose a strong competition for a child’s interest. To get my child to eat more fruits, I have simply stuck grapes on a fork to make fruit "popsicles." Similarly, I can have some sweet rice cakes on a fork to make a simple grain popsicle! It is not easy to pass it off as a real popsicle. But this strategy does work sometimes. A grain or fruit "popsicle" is better than none in the moment!
Nutritional education is not just for the parent. It can also be for the child. I watch kids' videos with my child regarding nutrition, and then discuss what we learned on the show. We talk aloud about the different grains, fruits, and vegetables he eats at mealtimes. The more ingredients he can name, the more enthusiastic he gets eating about them. Grain talk, brain talk! The grain goes into my child’s body and the names go into his brain!
We also play "name the grain" games as well as games that name the vegetable, fruit and all the other ingredients in his food.
Lastly, it is very important to model the behavior we want to see in our kids. I try to make sure to show my kid that I enjoy eating different grains, fruits, and vegetables and that I enjoy a balanced meal. Often my kid wants to try something that I eat, especially if I say "yum" while I eat it.
Eating a well-balanced meal must become part of your family culture for kids to imbibe good eating habits. It may still be hard to counteract the temptations of soda, candy, and cakes. However, when there are good examples and habits established at home, it is easier to counteract the temptations of junk food or at the least, find some balance, despite indulging in them.
Enjoy your "grainy" holiday!
This blog was written by one of our guest WIC mom bloggers, Kanmani.
Kanmani is a WIC mom with a young toddler. She shares cooking tips, recipes and motherhood experiences on her personal blog, KanmaniWrites.com.