5 Kid-Tested Tips for Healthy Eating

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve healthy eating, but then again, so do some of my worst memories.  So how do you get your kids to remember eating their veggies as a good memory instead of the traumatizing them for life?

Bad childhood memory time…please don’t serve Lima beans straight out of a can on a regular basis or mounds of steamed brussels sprouts the size of golf balls. Why not?  Because of you do this I can almost guarantee that all of your efforts to get your kids to eat healthy will be in vain.  Think about it, even if they manage to stomach them now, of all the vegetables you will serve them in their lifetime these bad experiences will probably be what stands out in their minds when they are adults, making them shy away from nutritional powerhouses like brussels sprouts in the future.

Even myself who pretty much loves eating every fruit or vegetable still struggle when I get to lima beans and ugh steamed whole Brussels sprouts really…can I get a side of cheese sauce with that.  The smell of Brussel sprouts steaming alone is enough to clear the table.  Try a fresh shredded brussels sprout and apple salad or even sautéed chopped brussels sprouts with onions and garlic as a sandwich topping instead.

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My husband liking his Brussel sprout salad….30 years later and a Sauteed Brussel Sprout Sandwich mmm…

So what else can you do to make healthy eating a good childhood memory?  The following 5 tips are what worked for my parents when they were raising me and what has worked for me so far with my kids, check them out.

1.  Get cooking…..together.

My best childhood memories are set in the kitchen, cooking with my grandma.  Not that everything she taught me to cook was “healthy” but it sure was fun.  All kids want to “help.” Yes, I know 6 year olds may not seem like the best helpers, especially after they spill a pitcher of fresh squeezed juice all over the floor, but that is just part of being a parent.  When learning about food and healthy eating it is important to know what goes into your meals. What better way to teach kids what is in their meal than by having them help prepare it.  Kids are more likely to taste something new if they had a hand in making it because not only are they are proud of their creation but they are curious.  A few ways my son helps me in the kitchen are…

  • gathering ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator.
  • washing the produce.
  • chopping soft foods (such as mushrooms) with a butter knife.
  • mixing and measuring.
  • layering ingredients (sandwiches, pizza, lasagna…pretty much anything that has to be assembled in layers).
  • pressing the button (on the blender, toaster, food processor, juicer, etc) with adult supervision of course.
  • setting the table.
  • and my favorite, cleaning-up.

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My oldest son “helping” make fresh squeezed juice

2.  Serve the rainbow.

You hear this over and over but what does it mean? No you don’t have to spend hours making your food look like perfectly sculpted rainbows, animals and such. Just add a splash of color to each meal. How do you do this?

  • Serve a side of fruit or veggies.
  • Add finely chopped veggies to family favorites.  (Put some avocado or diced tomatoes next to your quesadilla.)
  • Use a variety of fruits and vegetables. (After a while even favorites get boring, you can only eat broccoli so many ways in a week.)
  • Make burgers.  After-all, eating burgers and fries is not the unhealthy mistake most people make, scarfing down greasy take out on a regular basis is the mistake.  Burgers should be layered with color green guacamole and lettuce, purple onions, and juicy red tomatoes, and surrounded by crispy baked sweet potato fries.

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Dinner and some lovely rainbow chard at the farmer’s market

3.  Take your kids shopping.

Who loves going grocery shopping?….Um not me. But for some reason picking, counting and weighing produce is fun, to my son. That is probably because he doesn’t notice the 1,000 other people trying to get to the tomatoes on Sunday evening at HEB. Yeah, I go to the grocery store and not everything in my house is organic because really I do have a life and driving to 20 different places to buy the things on my list is just not realistic.

The goal is to know what to buy when you are at the store, if it comes in a box with a long list of ingredients you don’t understand….it is probably not the healthiest choice.  You should shop for ingredients to make meals; not packaged meals.  Frozen veggies are a better substitute for fresh than canned veggies.  For one, they just come out looking better plus they don’t have as many preservatives.

Make it a goal to go to the local farmer’s market (as a family) at least once a month, taste what the vendors are offering, and buy a couple of your fresh seasonal favorites.  Click here for a listing of RGV Farmer’s Markets.

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Fresh cherry tomatoes and serrano peppers.

4.  Make eating a family affair.

Who really likes eating alone, come on, that is just sad and you know it. Even if it is just me and my 11 month old at home and he is not hungry but it is lunch time for mama, guess who is going to sit in his high chair and have a bowl of diced fruit. Yeah it may mean your meal is not very peaceful and that you will slip on a slobbery piece of apple when you stand up but seriously they are so cute even when they are a mess. Make a goal for how many times you will eat as a family this week.

Teach older kids how to set the table and and enjoy mealtime conversation without the TV blaring. Yeah, it may take some time before your 6 year old learns how to eat with his mouth closed and not to speak with a jaw full of spaghetti; but this is the time to teach them.

Eating together also means eating the same food together. I know lots of parents who let their kids eat first because their food is ready first….because what they serve themselves is different than what they serve their kids….sorry guys but this is not cool. It is just more work for you now and more importantly, in the long run because bad habits are hard to break. Growing up if I said I wanted frozen chicken nuggets instead of wherever was cooking, it would not have been received favorably because my mom and dad were not short order cooks. Plus, if you want your kid to eat a variety of foods and have a sophisticated palette….serve them real food that you want to eat too and eat it together.

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My two little boys at the dinner table

5.  Be a food role-model.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to go on a strict diet.  A healthy relationship with food is beneficial for every member of the family. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too….just not at every meal. So what could you do?

  • Model eating a well-balanced diet throughout the day.
  • Choose fresh local foods when you can.
  • Make good restaurant choices
  • Enjoy meal time as family time.
  • Plan your meals. Not that you have to stick to a rigid plan but having an idea of what you are going to cook saves a lot of shopping time and money spent on things that sit in the pantry unused before getting sent to the food bank before it is too late.
  • Educate yourself.  For you this may mean learning about the food pyramid on choosemyplate.gov, taking a cooking class  at the McAllen Culinary Academy or making a new recipe board on Pinterest.  Whatever you do, take some time to reflect on your eating habits and make a couple healthy goals for you and your family.

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Orange Cranberry Muffins and Breakfast crepes are oh so sweet!

Check out my food blog and follow me on Instagram for more of my healthy eating ideas.

 Enjoy!

Audrey Cisneros

www.chileylimon.com

www.theimaginaryshop.com

 

P.S. Don’t forget to check out the McAllen Culinary Academy

2900 N 10th St McAllen TX 78501

(956) 683-0021

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Ever Wonder? Some Quick Nutrition Questions!

Hello RGV Parents here is a great article in regards to our kiddos nutrition! Happy Reading!

Ever Wonder?

Can eating chocolate cause acne? This is a common misconception. Hormonal changes are linked to teenage acne, rarely food choices. The best approach to healthy skin is to eat healthy, keep skin clean and get enough rest.

Are presweetened cereals more cavity promoting than unsweetened cereals? Carbohydrates in both starches and sugars “nourish” bacteria that promote tooth decay. Whether or not they’re presweetened, their cavity factor depends on how long cereals stick between teeth or in crevices in molars. Although not a dental issue, presweetened cereals often have more calories and don’t provide the fiber than unsweetened cereals often provide.

Do bleeding gums mean you are not getting enough Vitamin C? It’s not likely unless you a have a deficiency. Most cases of bleeding gums is poor oral hygiene.

What is the difference between “enriched” and “fortified”?
Both mean that vitamins for minerals were added to make a food more nutritious. Enriched means adding back nutrients that were lost during processing. Fortified means adding nutrients that weren’t present originally.


How many carrots do you need to eat to meet your day’s need for Vitamin A?

You need a handful a day to meet your daily needs.

How does frozen custard differ from ice cream?
It’s about the same. The only difference is that more egg yolks are used in custard.

Are dry roasted nuts are lower in fat than oil-roasted nuts? They have about the same amount per ounce. Nuts don’t absorb much oil when they’re roasted. The fat comes from the nuts themselves. They are also a good source and provide fiber.

Does sugar cause hyperactivity? Sugar has been wrongly accused as a cause of hyperactivity. Even though no scientific evidence supports the link between the intake of sugar and hyperactivity, many parents and caregivers seem reluctant to put this notion aside.

Why do you feel thirsty after eating salty food?
Salt is made of two minerals: Sodium and chloride. When you eat salty foods, your body uses water to flush extra sodium away. With water loss, you feel thirsty and you likely drink more.

Information in this article was obtained from Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 3rd edition. Roberta Larson Duyff

Good health is important from the inside out. Learn more about how Tiffany nourishes her body from the outside by checking out her website at tglenn.myrandf.biz Tiffany lives in Lorena with her husband Tim, son age 15 and daughters’ ages 9 and 13. E-mail: tiffanydglenn@gmail.com

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