Although families differ in the kitchen, often parents’ energy is focused on stopping the endless battle of finding healthy foods that taste good and get the stamp of approval from the little ones.
Instead of focusing on the ‘drama’ of food choices, parents can take unhealthy pressure off the picky eater and eliminate the tension that closes doors to trying new foods. Remember not to give adult-size portions as they can be overwhelming for little eyes and little stomachs, so scale everything down by offering smaller servings on smaller plates. One mom got the bright idea after seeing her daughter host a tea party for her teddy bears, to start serving meals on toy dishes, reasoning veggies aren’t so bad when served on a pink princess plate.
Eating the same foods over and over often gives the child a sense of comfort and security. Some experts feel that new food has to be offered anywhere from 8 to 18 times before it is acceptable. Prepare the food in different ways, but offer it on a consistent basis, especially when your child will be the hungriest. Encourage your child to taste one of the “repulsive foods” before chowing down on one of the more desirable ones, but do not be offended if he or she refuses. Try offering your child a few nutritious food choices at the dinner table. What is not eaten in 20 minutes can be wrapped up and offered as a later snack. Give your child the power to choose, but from among healthy choices.
As a family, you can make fun and nutritious snacks together as the weather gets warmer. Start with a ‘smoothie bar’ in your own kitchen or out on the deck and have you kids be part of measuring out the ingredients and putting a straw in the smoothie drink once it is blended. Here are a few smoothie recipes to choose from that the whole family can enjoy! Get creative and design a ‘signature smoothie’ recipe that becomes your family’s favorite.
1 cup strawberry yogurt
1 1/8 cup fresh sliced strawberries
1 cup pineapple chunks
1 ripe kiwi fruit, peeled and diced
½ cup 100% orange juice
4-6 ice cubes
Fresh kiwi slices
Place ingredients in blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Add ice cubes one at a time until mixture is thick. Garnish with fresh kiwi slices.
Strawberry Banana Supreme Smoothie
1 cup 100% apple juice
1 cup milk
1 frozen banana
1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup strawberry yogurt
Pour all liquid ingredients into the blender. Add all frozen ingredients. Blend until smooth.
2 cups 100% peach nectar or apple juice
1 cup vanilla frozen yogurt
1 cup peach yogurt
1 1/2 cups frozen peach slices
Pour all liquid ingredients into the blender. Add all frozen ingredients.
Blend until smooth.
Guest Post by Kindy Peaslee, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach for the Everyday Health calorie counter tool. She also loves creating family-friendly recipes at her personal nutrition site healthy-kid-recipes.com.