Thank you to Deb Glasser, a registered dietitian and the founder of kidchencoach.com, for today’s guest post!
Getting Your Family Involved in Their Food
Recently published data shows that food preferences and eating patterns develop early on in life. Helping children establish a healthy relationship with food not only benefits them during their adolescence but throughout their life span. This may seem a daunting task. Fear not, here are five simple (and fun!) ways to get your kids excited about helping to prepare a meal.
- Make the kitchen a fun and social place. Get children involved in the preparation of their own meals. There are countless age-appropriate ways for a child to assist in the kitchen. A toddler can pluck basil leaves from a plant for a fantastic pesto or tear lettuce for a salad. For the budding chef, a black bean, broccoli and cheese quesadilla couldn’t be easier. Use a whole grain tortilla, cheddar cheese, steamed broccoli and canned black beans. Assemble ingredients into the middle of the tortilla which is then folded over and either microwaved until the cheese is melted or sautéed in a lightly oiled pan until crispy.
- Plant an edible garden. The awareness brought to your children about where food actually comes from is an effective tool in getting them to consume more fruits and vegetables. Planting seedlings or small plants also lends itself to discussions on living greener. Simple ways for going about starting an edible garden include visiting your local farmers market and garden store to purchase small herbs, potting soil, and a pot. Tomato plants can also work in small spaces. More complex gardens can be planned depending on climate, garden size, etc. There are informational websites and books that can assist.
- Try it, you’ll like it. Encourage your family to try new things by experimenting with something new and interesting yourself. Explore new recipes or incorporate unfamiliar ingredients into already well received meals in your home. Add or substitute thin sliced zucchini or eggplant for noodles into your favorite lasagna recipe. Use Greek yogurt atop baked potatoes in place of sour cream, or toss quinoa into your next salad for something different.
- The secret’s out. I’ve never been a proponent of hiding or masking vegetables in food. Use mealtime as an opportunity to educate your family about basic nutrition and the importance of vegetable and fruit consumption. My three year old will be the first to tell a visiting friend over dinner that “carrots are good for your eyes”, “broccoli makes your body strong”, or “I am really tall because I eat cheese”. For the record, this makes me very proud.
- Make the farmer’s market a regular family outing. The abundance of beautiful and delicious produce available at local farmer’s markets is inspiring. Sampling items is often encouraged and the perfect way to figure out what is in season. Shopping at the farmer’s market is a fantastic opportunity to get your family involved in meal planning while supporting local farmers.
Nurture and grow your family’s future by feeding their bodies and their minds.
Family nutrition coach Deb Glasser is a Los Angeles-based dietitian with a focus on working with parents and children to build a healthy food foundation. Deb teaches both kids and their parents about food choices and nutrition while encouraging them to cook together and have fun in the kitchen. Additionally, Deb advises parents having feeding difficulties (picky eaters, specialized diets, weight loss/maintenance) and shows working parents how to shop for and prepare quick, healthy and delicious meals for their families. As a food enthusiast, Deb uses cooking as a tool to educate and inspire families to make good nutrition a priority. For more information, go to kidchencoach.com or email her at [email protected]