Feeding Kids

All My Child Wants is Cheetos and Mac N Cheese!

“Chicken nuggets or pizza please!”

If I had a nickel for every time I heard that response when my children were younger I would be a millionaire.

I certainly am not perfect. My children have had hot dogs, pizza, birthday cake, chips and have occasionally eaten something off the floor that has been there longer than five seconds. But as I studied nutrition and became more aware of what was in our food, I started paying attention to what I was feeding them as well.

I speak to many holistic health care providers that see children day in and day out with chronic ear infections, colds, sinus infections and sore throats. What I’ve heard from those practitioners is that many of these ailments flare up because of a child’s diet, and that tweaking the diet can help bolster the child’s immune system and ward off some of these illnesses.

I can already hear what you’re saying. “But my kids REFUSE to eat vegetables. It’s hard enough to get protein in them!” I know, I hear you.

Once again, consistency is key. Our children’s plates shouldn’t look different from ours. Half vegetables and fruits, a quarter protein, and the other quarter whole grains, along with healthy oils and fats and a lot of water throughout the day!

As much as possible, choose ingredients that are organic, local and unrefined. Stay away from items that have a long list of ingredients as that probably means there are chemicals in the food.

While I don’t generally advocate deceiving our children, I don’t think it hurts to mix certain vegetables that aren’t identifiable into a child’s favorite dish (even if in pureed form when they are young). Brownies made with chickpeas? Try out the recipe below.

Watch out for extra sugar added to so much of our food, including yogurt, applesauce, tomato sauce, and child-friendly protein bars. Fruit juice often contains unbelievable amounts of sugar that our children don’t need, so if they’re set on having it, limit to one serving per day, make it the highest quality juice you can find, and even consider cutting it with water.

I always like to have fun with child clients when discussing food or a healthy lifestyle. I let them be the health coach for a bit, or I’ll have our meeting in a treehouse, or I’ve even been known to try sprinting faster than a dog to demonstrate how much fun exercise can be. Involving children in the process produces the best results and it’s easy to do this at home too. Let your child be your sous chef for the evening (of course, age appropriate tasks only!). Not only will this pique their interest in food and flavors, it will give them an added sense of independence.

Still struggling for recipe ideas?  Here’s a few kid-friendly recipes to get you started:

  • Baked Sweet Potato French Fries

  • Ingredients

    • 5 sweet potatoes
    • 1/8 cup olive oil
    • Pinch of salt

    Steps

    1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

    2. Wash and then cut the potatoes to look like French fries.

    3. In a large baking pan, combine the sweet potatoes with the oil and salt.

    4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until brown and crispy!

  • Burritos

  • Ingredients

    • 4 whole wheat, sprouted grain or corn tortillas
    • 1 can black beans
    • 1 can refried beans
    • 2 cups cooked brown rice
    • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 onion, diced
    • Romaine lettuce, chopped
    • Sour cream
    • Parsley or cilantro, chopped

    Steps

    Arrange all of the ingredients so that everyone can make up their own burrito. Feel free to include other items, such as avocados or salsa.

  • Brownies

  • Ingredients

    • 1-1/2 cups semisweet carob chips
    • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 4 eggs
    • 2/3 cup agave nectar or 1-1/4 cup date sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    Steps

    1. In a small bowl, melt carob chips in microwave for 2 minutes. Or place carob chips in a heat-resistant bowl on top of a boiling pot of water until melted.

    2. In blender or food processor, combine chickpeas and eggs.

    3. Add sweetener, baking powder and melted chips; process until smooth.

    4. Pour batter into an approximately 9-inch nonstick pan.

    5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

    6. Allow to cool; cut and serve.

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