It’s August, 2022 already!
And with that, many of us start thinking about the change of seasons and the kids returning to school. Even though there are no children in my house now, I’ve spent my entire life dancing to that rhythm, and I am not expecting the pattern to change anytime soon. So with that as the music in the background, this month, we start looking at what we can do to boost our kids’ plant-powered nutrition profiles.
There are many ways we can improve our children’s food selections. You may have heard them before, but these suggestions are worth repeating. As our children get older, it is essential that we keep these recommendations in mind AND put them into practice as often as possible.
Make the best choice, the easy choice.
We know kids of all ages will eat fruit if it is easy to grab. So with that as the goal, buy fresh fruit in season like melons, peaches, nectarines, grapes, mandarin oranges, berries, and cherries.
You can cut the larger fruits like melons and pineapples into slices, wedges, or cubes and put them in a bowl in the refrigerator. Wash small fruits and leave them within easy reach. Fruit salad is a great option, but there is no need to be fussy. Fresh cherries, berries, and grapes are perfect just as they are—no prep needed beyond washing and leaving them in sight.
You can also batch cook beans, lentils, and grains and leave them in the fridge. For younger kids, pre-make power bowls or tacos and leave them in the fridge to be heated up quickly when they come in from school or other activities. Older kids might like pre-made meals, too. They might also be ok with making their own. Either way, making the ingredients easy to get and eat will lead the children to make the more healthful snacking decision.
Go for junk reduction. Keeping junk food out of the house is another part of making healthy food choices easy. That means we must think about reducing or eliminating nutrient-poor, processed, and animal-based options every chance we get.
Here are some suggestions:
- Stop buying junk food, chips, and candies.
- Stop buying chicken nuggets and other processed meats.
- Stop buying dairy products.
- Avoid fast food and sugary beverages.
- Purchase nuts, seeds, nut butters, unsweetened fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruit.
- Keep whole grains and legumes cooked and ready to eat.
- Have raw, steamed or roasted veggies like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, zucchini, spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower.
- Keep leafy greens washed and ready.
- Purchase (or make) whole grain breads and tortillas.
- Keep plant-based milk available.
- Be the change you wish to see your children imitate.
Make it fun.
- Keep the attitude light! Play with your food and get the kids in the game! Ask the kids to choose a recipe. Enlist them to help make it. Let them add in other ingredients (within reason).
- Try giving them a warm flatbread or tortilla, some yummy humus, and a rainbow of cut or shredded veggies. Ask them to make a picture using the bread as the canvas and the hummus as the glue to hold the veggies in place.
- When they complete their artwork, take photos of their creations and enjoy watching them eat it!
- For school lunches, you can do the same thing. Package all the ingredients in small containers or a bento box and send it to school for your young person to assemble. Did you know this is the exact strategy employed by Kraft Lunchables that makes them so appealing to kids???
- You could try taste testing different greens, citrus, beans, or nuts and seeds.
- Remember to keep the atmosphere light and non-judgemental. Food is serious business, but we don’t have to make it somber or overbearing. Besides, NO ONE wants to feel put down because of the food they choose. Respect for the child and your relationship is paramount.
For more suggestions, detailed information, and deeper insights, please refer to https://nourishthebook.com/
Save the Date for this FREE Online Event
September 27, 7:00 PM, Central
Featuring Ann & Jane Esselstyn
Kids: Using Food to Keep ’em Strong
More info to come!