Great Food Choices - Getting Kids Hooked Early
It’s important for our family to have healthy choices at home. Growing up, my mom always stocked the fridge with fruits and vegetables. Left overs were always flavorful because they were cooked with a lot of veggies and herbs. As a result, I stock my own fridge with wholesome foods as an adult, and although we indulge in fast food once in a while, I always feel a tug towards fruits and vegetables, so I decided to raise our son the same way. After 7 years of giving our son healthy options, we have seen him push away the fries while eating our weekend burgers and many times leaves birthday cakes half eaten because they are too sweet. We also limit sodas to special occasions and eating out, so cranberry juice has become his go to drink at home.
Sugars are also kept to a healthy medium. I make it a habit to bake a dessert on Fridays. (Keeping dessert day to Fridays has helped us all control our sweet tooth cravings.) Brownies! I’m sure your probably thinking. That’s not healthy at all. Oh but it can be. No, I don’t make it with blended carrots or squash. We use dark chocolate brownie mix instead of milk chocolate to start. Dark chocolate is a great monounsaturated fat that also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the feel good chemical your brain produces naturally. Dark chocolate also improves blood flow, helps prevent formation of blood clots, and may prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). To give them a yummy and healthy kick, I add dried cranberries and browned ripened banannas to the mix and for an added antioxidant bonus, we throw in some dark chocolate semi-sweet chips. Here's a full breakdown of dark chocolate benefits.
Vitamin C is critical to absorbing other nutrients and minerals in your body. I always thought orange juice was the best source for natural vitamin C. Not so. I was surprised to find that bell peppers and white grapes have even more. I swap out processed sweets like fruit roll-ups for natural sweet treats like these in my child's lunches. It is a great way to ensure he gets enough vitamin C to absorb all the important vitamins and minerals from his food. Kiwi, papaya and strawberries are also good sources of vitamin C. Here's another great website with detailed information and a list of fruits and vegetables high in vitamins for you and your children.
When it comes to eating meat, we choose grass fed beef. It's lower in fat (among other things) as well as higher in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids and the taste is noticablly better. When looking for grass fed beef at the store, I make sure to read the labels. There is a difference between “vegetarian” fed and grass fed. Vegetarian is grain fed (corn, protein supplements and antibiotics), and grass fed is all natural. Here is a comparison between grass fed and vegetarian fed beef.
These are just a few healthy habits we're instilling in our children so they get hooked early and grow up making good food choices for themselves as adults. I hope these tips help in any way. If you have any healthy food ideas, dishes or recipes you'd like to share, please feel free to post them below.
- Olga Lane