It’s an age-old dilemma–how to get your kids to eat healthy foods. While our parents faced the same problem, children today are besieged by commercials and brightly colored fast food restaurants that influence their diet choices. Although an indulgence in a boxed meal with a toy is fine on occasion, the trick is to find healthy foods that your kids will love. The best way to do this is to empower your children and let them take part in the healthy food decisions.
Kids love sweets, and the best sweets for them are grown on plants. Strawberries, kiwi, bananas, apples, peaches, pears, raisins and grapes are all healthy foods that children love. If you’re feeding a toddler, remember to slice grapes and other round berries into halves or quarters to prevent choking. While fresh is always best, most kids will love dried fruit too, and it is an excellent snack that packs well for school lunches. Frozen fruit bars and fruit juice are great alternatives to sweetened desserts and soft drinks; the trick is to make sure you’re buying 100 percent juice, rather than a product that has added sugar. Keep some berries in a bowl in the freezer, and you’ll be amazed how quickly they disappear.
Most kids consider raw carrots and celery a tasty treat, but you can expand your family’s vegetable palette by making a game to find the vegetables they like the most. While every child has different tastes, allowing them to experiment with new foods without pressure will guarantee new-found favorite foods every month. Make a vegetable tray with broccoli, cauliflower, green and red sweet peppers, cucumbers and other vegetables as they come into season. Serve a nutritious dip or two. You’ll be amazed at how fast the vegetables disappear.
An excellent trick to getting your kids to love healthy foods is to make the foods they already love, but to use healthy ingredients. Kids love tacos, and you can turn them into a healthy food by packing them with fresh vegetables. Use romaine lettuce, fresh tomatoes and freshly grated cheese to boost their nutritional value. If your child is hooked on burgers, make them at home using lean ground beef, ground chicken or turkey; add ground soy or flax seeds for an extra boost. Serve them with lots of cheese and veggies on whole wheat buns. Chicken strips are a favorite of kids; grill or broil the strips for a quick, healthy entree.
When your kids just want something to munch on while doing homework or watching television, think outside the box when it comes to snacks. Granola bars, nuts and baked chips will raise a cheer; add flax seeds and sunflower seeds for a healthy twist. Consider popping corn in a pot instead of a microwave to give your kids a snack they’ll love that contains no additives and artificial flavorings.
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