Wouldn’t it be great if kids grew up loving fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and everything that was healthy and nutritious for them? When parents prepare healthy meals for their kids, they are helping to develop exactly the right habits that will allow them to grow up not only eating, but enjoying all types of healthy and nutritious foods. So let’s see what’s involved in preparing a healthy kids meal.
In order for a child to enjoy healthy foods, the foods need to be appealing to children. Why do you think there are chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs? Breakfast cereals come in bright colors shaped like all kinds of cartoon characters? Fast food kid’s meals come with toys? The food industry knows that these are all appealing to a child’s imagination.
Healthy kids meals will all have the following characteristics:
· Have fun and imaginative names that your child can identify with
· Have bright colors and come in interesting shapes and/or designs
· Have familiar textures, crisp vegetables, crunchy snacks, juicy fruits, etc
· Come in kid sized portions
By introducing children to foods that are healthy and nutritious in a fun and imaginative way, it is already appealing to them and they will want to try it. Nothing is more difficult than getting a child to eat his/her Brussel Sprouts ‘because I told you they are good for you’. Also, by appealing to your child’s imagination, you can start to engage him/her in some of the planning and preparation.
Kids love to help mom and dad do stuff, whatever it is, so this is an excellent chance to get them involved and start developing those healthy eating habits. To get your child involved, and keep their interest, all recipes should:
· Use basic ingredients found in most home pantries
· Be simple to prepare allowing the child to help
· Be fast to prepare (~15 minutes)
Although most kids will have a favorite food that they want to eat every meal of every day, variety is also important since it allows you to introduce a wider range of healthy foods into their diet. Also, not every meal is going to be a well balanced dinner. Healthy eating habits means selecting healthful and nutritious options for all meals including:
· Packed lunches for school
· Prepared lunches at home
· Evening meals
The goal is to have your kids enjoying healthy foods, and eating well balanced and nutritious meals before they even realize it’s good for them, and by that time they will like the foods so much, they won’t care. So instead of engaging in a battle of wills over who’s not leaving the table until they finish their broccoli, prepare healthy kids meals that are so much fun they’ll be asking for more.