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Sneak Veggies in Your Kids' Foods — They'll Never Know!

The Sneaky Chef is an expert on food, health and nutrition and gives the absolute best tips on how to keep your family the healthiest they can be — in easy, and sneaky ways. Today, we’re featuring ten amazing tips on food, health, nutrition to keep in mind when creating meals for your family. Oh, and there will be lots more of the Sneaky Chef coming — many, about sneaking healthy foods into your kids meals.

1.Skipping Breakfast?

Did you know kids who skip breakfast have a more than 250 increased risk for developing tooth decay, according to a study of more than 4,000 children aged 2 through 5? A wonderful breakfast food for kids is oatmeal — its easy to hide healthy foods in your kids’ oatmeal like adding blueberry juice for example — that way, your kids won’t even know they are eating fruits! Toss a handful of ground slivered almonds on your kids’ breakfast cereal. They’re a crunchy, heart-healthy addition that also provide longer lasting energy. You can also add them to such kid favorite recipes as “Breakfast Ice Cream” (also known as pureed frozen fruit!).According to a Harvard Medical School survey, children who eat breakfast do better academically and emotionally in school, resulting in better grades, behavior and attendance. Kids who eat more nutritious foods, like fresh fruits and veggies, have improved attention span and more balanced behavior and moods

2. Prevent Illness — Buy Organic!

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recently revised its cancer assessment guidelines, concluding:
-children accumulate half their lifetime cancer risk by age 2
-On average, children up to age two are 10 times more vulnerable to cancer-causing chemicals than adults.
-Some cancer-causing substances are up to 65 times more potent for infants than adults.
-Children from age 2 to 15 are three times more vulnerable to carcinogens than adults.
Conclusion: buy organic when you can. Many organic foods are not much more expensive than their conventionally grown counterparts when you know which ones are most important to buy.

3. Snacks

Think of snacks as “mini-meals” and try to provide a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats. For example, fruit paired with a slice of low fat cheese and a handful of almonds will provide for more sustained energy than fruit alone. You can also easily hide healthy foods in kids’ favorite meals, like pureed cauliflower in mac n’ cheese, or spinach in brownies (without them ever knowing!).

4. Avoid the Top 3 Offenders

Food label alert! Try to stick to packaged foods that only have five or fewer ingredients listed. These tend to be more natural and less processed. At all costs, avoid the top 3 offenders in kids’ packaged foods: partially hydrogenated oil (trans fats), high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Most of us know these common hidden offenders by now. Imagine how great it would be to see superfoods on kids labels, like spinach and vegetables rather than a bunch of chemicals. Go for heart healthy “good fats” like those in nuts, seeds, fish, avocados and olive oil. No problem if you can’t get kids to eat these healthy foods straight up–you can easily sneak these into kids’ favorite meals with a few ingenious yet simple techniques, like pureed avocado in fruit smoothies (they’ll never know it’s in there!) or finely ground nuts in whole grain pancakes, or peanut butter and jelly muffins kids love.

5. Teach Them NOT to Clean Their Plate

No more “clean plate club.” Teach kids to listen to their bodies’ cues and stop eating when they are no longer hungry. Forcing kids to finish everything on their plate will weaken this natural internal sense and lead to overeating in the future. One great way to have them fill up on healthier foods is to substitute highly nutritious vegetable “fillers” for some portion of a denser calorie meal. For example, a little pureed spinach and blueberries substitutes invisibly into part of a hamburger without anyone knowing the difference (yes, spinach and blueberries!) or try easy ways to hide pureed cauliflower in mac n’ cheese. In the end, kids have healthier versions of their favorite foods, with less calories and fat. Find out how easy it is, plus lots more, at HYPERLINK “http://www.TheSneakyChef.com” www.TheSneakyChef.com.

6. Don’t Ask “What do you Want for Dinner?”

Never ask open-ended questions like “What do you want for dinner?” They can always answer “pancakes” or “a banana split.” Instead, offer limited choices like, “Would you prefer peas or broccoli with dinner?” But if you’ve got a picky eater on your hands and you’re serving pasta, add pureed veggies into the pasta sauce or avocado in the chocolate pudding! Even adding a little pureed spinach and blueberries (yes, blueberries!) into part of a hamburger without anyone knowing the difference (yes, spinach and blueberries!) or try easy ways to hide pureed cauliflower in mac n’ cheese.

7. Serve Dessert

f you’re going to serve dessert, do it as close to the meal as possible. When sweets are consumed with, or just after, a protein meal, the sugar is absorbed considerably slower. The same is true when sweets are combined with fat. And the kids are still full from the meal and will tend to eat less dessert.

8. Add Cinnamon!

Cinnamon has been found to be one of the most effective ways to balance blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes, plus, kids love it. Use it in baked goods in combination with whole grain flours to slow down the absorption of sugar even more.

9. Pasta? Go Italian

Most Italian brands of white pasta have one more gram of fiber per serving than American made white pastas. But can your kids (or you!) tell the difference? The same holds true for pureed carrots and yams in tomato sauce, or pureed cauliflower and white beans in mac n’ cheese.

10. Skip Fast Food, Buy the Toy

Skip the fast-food, but buy the toy. This is usually what the kids want anyway. Most fast-food restaurants will sell you the toy by itself for under $2. Plus, save the wrappers. A recent study shows that kids prefer the taste of everything if it comes in a fast food wrapper (scary, but true). So run with it–take the wrappers home and put healthy things like carrot sticks in them. Sneaky!


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