From Relish Magazine, appearing monthly in The Greeneville Sun
By Jill Melton
Here is a mish-mash of ideas to get everyone eating better. The one thing they have in common? They get kids involved. Sometimes the simplest of ideas will get kids excited. Who knew?
Kids love noodles. Skip the Ramen, and pack these sesame noodles for lunch. They’re just as good cold as they are room temperature.
Combine 3 cups cooked spaghetti, 1 cup shredded cabbage 2 chopped green onions, ¼ cup soy sauce and 2 tablespoons each peanut butter, rice vinegar, oil.
2. Who Moved My Fruit?
When fruit was put in a colorful bowl in school lunchrooms, sales increased by 104%. The message—make fruit visible and attractive and kids will eat it. This works at home too.
3. Cool Trick
Place 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 cup half and half and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a quart-size zip-top plastic bag. Seal. Place that bag in a gallon size zip-top bag. Layer ice and rock salt in the gallon bag and seal. Toss back and forth until it’s ice cream.
4. Eat Your Colors
Add these colorful and super nutritious fruits and vegetables to your diet:
•Red for lycopene: Tomatoes, cherries, cranberries, watermelon and raspberries.
•Orange and Yellow for beta-carotene: Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, bell peppers and cantaloupe.
•Green for vitamin C, lutein and indoles: Broccoli, spinach, green beans, kiwi, and green apples.
•Blue and Purple for anthocyanins: Blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, and prunes.
5. Garden Party
Make cupcakes in flowerpots and decorate with lollipops or flowers.
6. Kids Tools
Create a kids utensil drawer or basket with easy to use and kid-friendly cookware.
7. Cool Lunch Bags
Get a fun insulated lunch bag that allows you to pack cold foods. We love the bags from Built and Kid-Konserve.
8. Draw It
Get a chalkboard and let your kids write the menu on it each night. They’ll learn about food and meal planning and get a little spelling and writing practice, too.
9. Remember Milk
Consumption of milk decreased by 35 percent when flavored milk was eliminated from school lunches, resulting in a decrease in calcium, vitamins D and A, and protein—key nutrients for kids. A little sugar may be a small price to pay for nutrients kids don’t get elsewhere. Plus milk, even when it’s flavored, is caffeine free. Source: Milk Processor Education Program
10. Try Sushi
For a quick dinner better than the drive-thru, try sushi. Kids love sushi. Try the California rolls or crunchy shrimp rolls, where everything is cooked. Sushi is made fresh daily at most supermarkets and is low in fat and super nutritious.
11. Better than Soda
Make fruit ice cubes and serve with club soda or in a cup on their own. Puréed watermelon, blackberries or any other juicy fruit will work well.
12. Low-fat Healthy Granita
Make some nutritious frozen treats and get the kids involved, too. Freeze juice in a shallow pan. Let kids scrape it with a fork into a slushy, icy treat. Voila, you have granita!
13. Add Protein
For an easy breakfast sandwich make a waffle sandwich. Layer 2 frozen toasted waffles with cheese and ham for a high protein breakfast that will last longer than the waffles alone. Better yet. Add milk.
14. After School Snack
Keep nutritious after school snacks easy and accessible. Hummus is a great one. Pair with carrot sticks and pita bread.
15. Almond Milk
If your kids have a problem with dairy products, give almond milk a try. It has a mild, nutty flavor that woeks great with cereal or on its own. It’s made from ground almonds and contains no cholesterol or lactose. It comes in a variety of flavors, is low in calories and fat and hig in vitamin D, E and B 12. T also contains 45 % of the daily values for calcium in one 8-ounce glass.
16. Use Chopsticks
Kids love a challenge, and chopsticks are definitely it. In addition to teaching coordination, it slows kids down, forcing them to eat mindfully and savor their food. Remember it takes the stomach 20 minutes to signal to the brain that you’re full.
17. Seal it with a Kiss
If your kids would rather have coco puffs than oatmeal, try topping it with a Hershey’s kiss. They’ll still get the benefits of the whole grain oats.
18. Pod Luck
Serve edamame, the green soybeans that come in a pod and are served in Asian restaurants. Kids will love getting the beans out of the pod, which will occupy them. Plus, they’re super healthy. To incorporate the bean into other snacks, try Edamame Hummus.
19. Breakfast Rule #1
Make breakfast a fiber opportunity. Buy whole grain breads with at least 3 grams fiber per slice, or cereals with at least 4 grams per serving.
20. Straws, Straws, Straws
Give a kid a fun straw and anything will be more fun to eat. Let them use straws to slurp soup, drinks, even ice cream.