Got picky eaters in the family?
With the overwhelming abundance of junk food that is now available everywhere we go, it's no wonder we have a health crisis nowadays. Not to mention the availability of processed and packaged foods being offered to our children in schools, cafeterias, after school centers, etc.
It's so important to start kids eating healthy at a young age because their bodies rely on nutrition for growth and proper development. This also sets the stage for the habits that they will adopt later in life as adults.
"Healthy adults start with healthy children!"
We as adults have the responsibility to set the example by teaching our kids how to choose and cook real foods instead of on relying on convenience foods.
We know this is often easier said than done... But don't worry we got your back!
Check out some of our favourite ways to make kids' meals nutritious and delicious without starting World War 3 at the kitchen table...
Kid-friendly meal ideas
Who doesn't love a good plant-based smoothie? We sure do! Smoothies are a great way to boost your nutrient status and to add in those greens which, let's be honest, can be a challenging thing to do with kids. Check out some kid-friendly smoothies to make at home that will nourish their cells and tastebuds.
Adding extra vegetables to soups and stews is another way to sneak in some extra nutrition. The best part? They'll never even guess you managed to slip broccoli into their bellies.
Instead of white pasta, choose fiber-rich options like black bean, quinoa, or chickpea pasta. This will help keep blood sugar balanced and sustain energy levels, so your kids have the energy to run around without getting hangry. Pasta dishes are also a great way to add extra veggies into sauces or as add ons like broccoli or tomatoes.
An easy snack to bring in the car or your purse for a quick energy boost packed with nutrients, and better than concentrated fruit juice which is full of sugar.
Eggs are a great protein source that kids love. Make an omelet or scrambled eggs with some added veggies like spinach or zucchini for a delicious energy-dense breakfast option, great before school!
Probably the easiest breakfast ever, oatmeal is a sustainable option to keep your kids satisfied until lunch. Add some fat like coconut milk and toppings like fruit, almond butter, nuts, seeds, raw honey, pure maple syrup, or cinnamon for increased nutrition and flavor.
Healthy eating made easy
We know it's easier to grab the convenient foods or order takeout but getting into the habit of making your own meals at home will make it easier for your kids to associate eating with real food.
Here are some strategies to implement healthy eating into your daily life with your kids:
Stock up on frozen fruits and veggies
Life gets crazy and hectic, we get it. This is when frozen fruits and veggies can come in handy! Picked at the peak of ripeness, they are often more nutritious and can last for a while in the freezer. Add to soups, stews, smoothies, and stir-fries.
Make a vegetarian meal every week
If you tend to eat animal protein every night, try switching it up with one vegetarian meal per week. Make it fun by exploring some new recipes and get the kids active in the kitchen. Who knows maybe they might even enjoy it!
Eat as a family
Having regular meal times as a family is not only an important bonding moment but it also ensures you and the kids are sitting down for regular meals while teaching them proper meal hygiene. Avoid TV or electronics and enjoy each other's presence.
Keep healthy snacks available
To avoid grabbing the bag of chips or cookies, keep some healthy snacks ready for when the kids need that extra energy boost. Veggie sticks with hummus or guacamole, yogurt with berries, smoothies, hard-boiled eggs, and fresh fruit are all good options.
Having a plan in place can help you avoid caving in to fast food and takeout at night. Meal prepping ahead of time and planning out your meals for the week can make a difference in saving time, energy, and also money. A great way to stay on track is to schedule one or two days a week for meal prepping and grocery shopping so that you can save time and energy!
Remember as adults we set the example for our kids, and the earlier kids are introduced to real foods the easier it is for them to continue to choose these foods as they age. Not to mention, their tastebuds won't even want the processed sugary stuff! So what are you waiting for? Happy cooking!
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.