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Dear Ellen,I need some creative ideas for back to school food for my kids that is healthy, quick and that will actually eat!
It is important for children to eat healthy foods starting with “5-a-day” fruits and vegetables. However, getting them to actually do so can be a challenge. Here I’ve compiled 5 Specific “S” tips to help you get those nutritious fruits and veggies into your child's diet
Smoothies are everywhere nowadays because they are both delicious and packed with nutrients. They can, however, also be packed with sugar, so try to make them at home! Use an inexpensive smoothie maker, blender or juicer, and get creative with your kids using variations on any of the following ingredients:
- Berries, Bananas, Apples, Mangoes, Melon, Peaches, Pineapple, Fruit Juice
- Avocado, Spinach, Kale, Pumpkin, Peas, Cucumbers, Carrots, Broccoli
- Milk, Yogurt, Soy Milk, Almond Milk
- Cocoa, Cinnamon, Vanilla
Or… ask your kids to surf the web for their own concoction!
While you’re smoothing it, think of soup! Try blending last night’s ratatouille, tomato sauce, cauliflower or broccoli into soup for lunch. Warm it up and put it into a fancy mug to accompany the kid’s sandwich. Alternately, use cucumber, melon or tomato to whip up a cold soup.
Kids love food on skewers! Add a healthy dip and lunch, snack or dinner is served!
- Beef, courgette, and red pepper with sun dried tomato pesto
- Fish or Shrimp with Lemon-Basil Pesto
- Pork and Pineapple
- Chicken and apricot with mango chutney
- Cherry tomato and mozzarella with basil pesto or olive oil dip
- Cherry tomato, shrimp, cucumber with tzatziki dip
- Ham, Cheese, Cherry Tomato with mustard dip
- Watermelon and Feta Cheese
- Chicken with Satay Dip
- Pineapple, ham, spinach leaves, dipped in.
- Mini hot-dogs with cherry tomatoes
- Mixed fruits with Honey-Yogurt Dip, fruit smoothie dip (see smooth it! above)
- Mixed fruits dipped in melted chocolate
Sneaking fruit or veg into dishes can be a great way to add texture, flavour and nutrients.
- In baked goods like pies, tarts or muffins, double the fruit quantity and replace half of the butter by fruit (banana or apple work well!)
- In baked goods, like cookies or brownies, replace half the butter with mashed banana or apple compote
- Add grated carrots to bolognaise sauce for pasta or lasagne
- Add raisins, bananas and other fresh or dried fruits to hot or cold cereals
- Add bananas or berries to pancakes
- Replace candy in bowls with dried fruit
- Keep a bag of frozen vegetables in the freezer to add to stews and stir-fry
- Add broccoli florets or julienne carrots to pasta, rice or potato salad
- Add spinach, mushrooms or zucchini to spaghetti sauce
- Mash beans, add corn or carrots to chili
- Shred zucchini, carrots or mushrooms into ground meat or hamburgers
Still stuck for what to give your kids as a healthy snack?
- Popcorn is a healthy whole grain when prepared at home with minimum oil and salt
- Dried Fruit such as apricots, raisins or cranberries
- Yogurt with fruit compote
- Whole grain cereal or bread
- Small packets of omega-3 healthy nuts
- Whole grain bread-sticks with peanut butter
- Piece of Chocolate with banana
- Homemade fruit compote, just cook and mix
It can be tricky to talk to children in just the right way in order to foster interest and learning without forming lots of rules around food. The aim is to build positive food associations from the start and encourage them to make healthy food choices as they grow, because they want to not because they have to. For young babies, read books and take them food shopping talking to them about what they see. For older kids try to associate foods with their own strengths and interests.
Since children generally seek to please their parents, acknowledge good eating habits and healthy choices they make with positive feedback. Try saying things like:
- “I like the way you chose that piece of fruit.”
- “I’m so proud that you’re learning to make good food choices to help you grow strong and be smart!”
- “Wow! I see all the food groups on your plate!”
- “Yummy, th ose vegetables and fruits are my favourites, too!”
If despite all your efforts, you still fear your children are not getting enough fruit and vegetables, consider supplementing their everyday diet with the best that fruits and vegetables have to offer with Juice PLUS+. The Juice PLUS+ Company places a great importance on a healthy diet, general well-being, and a healthy future for our children. The Juice PLUS+ Children’s Foundation was established to help improve children’s eating habits. Its focus is on the health of children and their families. The goal of the Juice PLUS+ Children’s Health Study is to raise awareness of the nutritional habits of children and their parents.
Now that we have tweaked the nutritional habits of our children, what about activity? Wondering how to get your kids to go viral about moving? Read next week’s article!
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