Have a Good (Food) DayAugust 2, 2017
Back To School Recipe: Green Machine PopsiclesAugust 29, 2017
Mothers and fathers of a “fussy eater” can attest to it being one of the many challenges of parenting. As parents, we hope that our children grow into forward thinkers – men and women with minds of their own who challenge and influence the ideas of today to shape the future…but perhaps they can use those forward thinking, stubborn minds on issues other than the food in their lunch bag or on their dinner plate? Food preferences are expected to change over the course of one’s life – with most changes occurring during major growth phases. Picky eating tends to be the most prevalent in children between the ages of two and six – which unfortunately for parents is also the time when children learn how to say ‘No’ and for some when children are starting school. Ensuring a fussy eater is consuming the recommended amounts of essential vitamins and minerals to promote growth and development requires a perfect balance of meal timing and presentation. This period of time is critical, and how we handle it is equally as important. But – don’t sweat it! Your children can still get their fruits and veggies in with a little bit of patience..and creativity!
- Offer one new food, in a small portion, when they’re hungry – It’s difficult to see your child upset, so staying strong and avoiding “giving in” on this tip can be a challenge for you, but children will not allow themselves to go hungry. As a matter of fact, they rely more on their cellular hunger than adults, who can be fooled by eye hunger, nose hunger, and heart hunger. When your child is hungry, try presenting them with a small portion of a new fruit or vegetable, plated in a creative way. Try an open-faced cheese sandwich with cherry tomato eyes and a cucumber smile or a festive snack of broccoli Christmas trees. Start slow, with small portions at the right times.
- Mix your colors wisely – If children don’t’ like vegetables, they tend to go into a state of panic when they see green. In a child’s developing brain, green means gross. But luckily, with a plethora of fresh foods to choose from, you can ease into adding these healthy additions to foods just by picking a color they won’t shy away from. If you have a little ‘carb-loading’ toddler, start with white fruits and veggies. Start by mixing mashed cauliflower with mashed potato to assess the reaction. If they tolerate it, begin to slowly reduce the potato portion until the majority is cauliflower and they begin to tolerate the taste. It is easier to play with texture once the taste of the food is accepted by your little one. That’s where the patience comes in.
- Tomato sauce is your friend – I have yet to encounter a child who doesn’t enjoy spaghetti. I’m sure they’re out there, but for the most part, pasta makes the world go ‘round for young ones. If your child tolerates/enjoys tomato sauce – use it wisely. It takes a few extra minutes to throw a few carrots, mushrooms and peppers into the food processor before adding them to your sauce. Depending on how much you blend them, your sauce could come out looking untouched, or in the event that they are chopped finely, but not smooth, you come out with a “meaty” sauce, which could easily masquerade as ground beef/chicken.
- “Fries”, anyone? – Children tend to give the green light for anything fried. Why not lightly bread a few new options, bake them, and see how they react? Try zucchini or sweet potato to start as they can give that crunch the kids are looking for.
- Everything tastes good with chocolate! – With the extra fussy ones who need a little bit of extra ‘hide and please don’t seek’, try pureeing vegetables like spinach, carrot, squash or beets into brownies, or even chocolate pudding! The dark color won’t give anything away, and the mild tasting vegetables can go unnoticed.
- Avocado is the new black – Avocados are definitely in the running to being one of the most versatile fruits on the market – not to mention they are an excellent source of fibre, unsaturated fat, and potassium. Their creamy texture can make them staples in creamy salad dressing, pudding, smoothies, or popsicles. Sneak one into any of the aforementioned foods and boost the nutritional value instantly.
Remember to be patient and revisit these foods as your children get older to see how their preferences and sense of adventure have changed. But in the meantime, while you wait out the “terrible two’s”, the above tips can help ensure your little ones are getting the nutrition they require for optimal growth and development.