Getting children involved in cooking and learning to make healthy food choices at an early age really helps to develop those good eating habits. Ask your child to help make a healthy menu plan for the week, and let them help with the shopping.
When the kids are feeling involved and part of the planning and decision making process they will tend to eat and enjoy what is being served.
Kids prefer their vegetables raw in most cases, which is perfect since fresh raw fruits and veggies are full of valuable nutrients. Cut up a colorful array of vegetables along with a homemade dip, or cut up some fresh fruit and serve with a yogurt dip.
Sushi sandwiches – spread/layer sandwich ingredients on a slice of fresh crustless bread, roll up and slice into pinwheels. These are easy to eat, pack easily, and look great!
Sandwich shapes – Assemble sandwich as usual and then cut into shapes with large cookie cutters.
Pancakes – Experiment with whole grain flours or a combination. One of my favorites is buckwheat pancakes, not only are they delicious but they look incredible too! Serve with berries and real maple syrup..
Pizza – Let each family member make his or her own. Get all the toppings ready: pita bread, sauce, peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, grated cheese, veggie pepperoni, and then let the fun begin. Let everyone personalize their pizza with a funny face or shape made from veggies. Put under the broiler until cheese is golden and bubbly and enjoy!
Muffins – using whole grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, they make great snacks or a quick breakfast along with a glass of milk. Avoid sugar, and use maple syrup, honey, or molasses instead.
Jello – Mix 1 tbsp agar-agar (A gelling agent made from red saltwater algae) with 3 ½ cups fruit juice and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour into mold with fresh fruit/berries and refrigerate.
Nut butters – as long as your child is not allergic, are great sources of protein, good carbs and fats. Try almond butter, cashew butter, and sunflower seed butter for a change. Nut butters contain the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, which are important for brain development, healthy immune system, and healthy skin.
Quesadillas – Everyone loves these. Sauté chicken or firm tofu cut into thin strips, and sauté a variety of coloured peppers, and a large onion cut into strips. Assemble chicken or tofu on soft tortillas, sprinkle with grated cheese, roll up and bake in 350o oven for 10 minutes. Serve with sour cream and salsa. These are a huge hit at my house.
Ice Cream – Peel a number of very ripe bananas. Break into one-inch pieces and freeze in a zip lock bag. Just before serving, run through a juicer or blender with a small amount of liquid (water or juice). Serve immediately. Add carob powder or berries to blender for different flavors or top with fruit.
Soda Pop – Fresh fruit juice diluted ½ and ½ with mineral water. Herb tea – Kids especially like those with rose hips, lemon grass, or hibiscus and when cold, mix with mineral water or fruit juice.
Healthy Alternative For Candy– Snicker Snackers - ½ cup ground sunflower seeds, 1/3 cup honey, ½ cup nut butter (cashew, almond, or peanut butter), ½ cup unsweetened carob powder, ¼ cup wheat germ, ¼ cup unsweetened coconut. Add ingredients one at a time and blend in a food processor until mixture forms a ball. Pinch off small amounts and roll into bite-sized balls. Roll in extra sesame seeds or coconut if desired. Store in refrigerator in airtight container. N
Healthy Cookies – Convert your favorite recipe using natural sweeteners, and whole-wheat flour. For a special treat, buy natural food store animal crackers.
CLICK HERE For PART ONE: The Importance of the Family Dinner Table
CLICK HERE for PART TWO: Nutrition For Today's Children