In recognition of the coming spring and National Nutrition Month in March, we want to help you and your family eat healthier together. We know it’s not easy. Preparing a healthy snack isn’t as quick as grabbing a pre-packaged one (although it can be pretty fast). Whether your kids are picky eaters, or you’re just too overwhelmed between work and parenting to even think about introducing more nutritious food, hopefully these 6 tips can help.
Sometimes simply cutting up fruits or vegetables and eating them with your children can increase their fruit and vegetable intake. Ask them if they want apples, and you might get a “no.” But try this: put some sliced apples or blueberries or carrots in a bowl on the table for snack time. Don’t order your children to eat them, but just talk or play a game at the table and watch as the food (most likely) disappears.
Creating a weekly ritual can get kids excited about trying new fruits and veggies. Introduce “Try it Tuesdays” (or whatever evening works best for you), and make this the night your kids taste and rate a new fruit or vegetable. They can just give a thumbs up or thumbs down, and you can write down the results as evidence for later (YES…you really did like that kumquat, see??).
A fun way to incorporate new and healthy foods into dinner is to have a meal centered around one color. Maybe you have a “red night,” and serve pasta with tomato sauce, red peppers and strawberries.This works equally well for green (lots of veggies!), yellow, orange and even blue/purple (think of eggplants, blueberries and meats cooked with plums). And by letting kids choose the color and come with you to the store to get the ingredients, they will have a greater sense of ownership and connection to the meal.
Introduce healthy ingredients into foods your kids already love. For mealtime, add some grated or shredded zucchini, spinach or carrots into your kids’ favorite recipes, such as lasagna, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce, rice dishes and muffins. Or for a snack, try smoothies—a delicious, easy and super-healthy treat that many kids love. Try this: Pour some low-fat milk, fresh or frozen strawberries and a banana into a blender. Turn it on for a few minutes and and voila! Done. Anything goes in a smoothie and if made right, these drinks can make any healthy food (even spinach!) taste good.
Go easy on yourself.
Look at how much nutritional food your children are eating for the week, versus the day. Don’t beat yourself up over one day where the kids have way too much starch, and not enough fruit or veggies, for example. If you keep in mind what they ate in the days before, you’ll probably find plenty of healthy food groups represented, and that’s a good thing!
Try, try again.
Don’t get discouraged. Even if kids don’t like a new fruit or veggie the first time, try serving it again. Researchers have found that children may need 8 to 15 offerings of a new food before they decide to like it. So stay strong!
For more ideas and resources related to healthier eating, visit The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. If you have a creative idea that helps kids eat healthier, please share it on our Facebook page!
This delicious alternative to traditional macaroni and cheese, which comes from our friend Brianna at Red, Round or Green, packs a healthier punch due to the benefits of quinoa (pronounced ‘kinwa’). At $1 a pound, this healthy grain is cheap and nutrient dense. Quinoa is a complete protein and compared to other grains is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc.
Looking to spice up your trips to the grocery store with the kids? This scavenger hunt game should do the trick! Our list includes challenges such as find a cheese that came from a foreign country and find one item in the produce section that came from the state where you live. If you’re feeling creative, add some new challenges to the list. Not only is this game fun, but it’s educational too!
As March 20th is the first day of spring, this month’s conversation starters are all about looking ahead and putting a spring in your step. Take that groundhog!
What will you miss most about winter?
If you were a season, which season would you be, and why?
Name three springtime activities that make you happy.
Pick someone you care about and talk about how you could put “a spring in their step” today.
Spring is often said to be a time of regrowth or change. Is there anything you would like to change or do differently this season?
In the movie GoundHog Day starring Bill Murray, the main character keeps living the same day over and over again. Describe in detail a day you’d like to live over and over again.
Do you have a favorite memory of spring from when you were younger? What is it?
Actress Marilyn Monroe once said, “Designers want me to dress like Spring…I don’t feel like Spring. I feel like a warm red Autumn.” What season do you feel like? Why?
As spring is associated with hope, what is something you hope for–for yourself, or someone you love, or the world?