When it comes to getting your kids to eat healthy, some of us struggle and some of us manage. One day our child loves her steamed zucchini and the next day she stares at it like it's a mushy booger sitting in her plate. One day blueberries are so amaze balls that she eats a whole half pint and the next day their just...well...balls to throw on the floor.
I thought I'd share some fun shortcuts to getting your child to eat healthier without having to sacrifice too much of the yummy stuff they love!
Below are some easy and nutritious short cuts to take.
Classic Peanut Butter and Jelly. Don't, just don't, buy the prepackaged stuff. PUH-LEASE. Since those are prepackaged and need a longer shelf life, there are many added preservatives in there that can be very unhealthy. The Fix: Whole wheat bread, natural or organic peanut butter (almond butter is even healthier) and natural or organic jelly. Many jellies are full of high fructose corn syrup which is just plain awful! Look for a brand that doesn't have it and contains only what you need!
Classic Macaroni and Cheese. Make your own or purchase Annie's -- it is free of anything artificial and no preservatives. It often times contains organic ingredients as well. Their shells and cheese taste JUST LIKE Velveeta! In fact, my husband passed a joke about us eating "processed" macaroni one day, and then I told him my secret (it was Annie's). He couldn't tell the difference!
Cereal. Nix the cereal right away! Unless you are serving organic cereals that don't have sugar (like the nastier cardboard tasting ones that kids hate), then don't serve cereal at all; that's just a belly of processed sugar. Make it an occasional treat, and more so for the weekends! The Fix: Try oatmeal with fresh fruit and honey for naturally sweetening! Another shortcut is to simply bake or make breakfast at night. While you're eating dinner, pop a can of biscuits in the oven or cook some eggs in a muffin pan in the oven and save over night. Make pancakes and heat them up in the morning! Nuke these quick items in the morning, add some fruit and milk and your child already had a healthier start! Try these blueberry pancake bites that are amazing!
Snack time. Kids love their snacks, and if you know me personally, you know I love my snacks too! There's nothing wrong with snacks, but in moderation. The only unhealthy snack we keep is Oreos. The Fix: If your child loves cookies, bake a big batch from scratch over the weekend because then you know your child is eating a cookie with ingredients that you can pronounce and that are real; not fake, toxic preservatives that we don't need. Hate baking? Pilsbury makes a line called Simply Pilsbury that has NO artificial anything in there and they taste GREAT! In my house we shoot for fruit for snacks and then from there, our "pre-packaged" snacks are usually organic granola bars or Annie's crackers or something that I make myself.
Ice Cream/ Smoothies. I'm not saying to give up ice cream by any means (that's just a crazy thought), but if you want a healthier alternative you can make banana ice cream! Just freeze some cut up bananas and blend along with anything you want! We love to add a few frozen peaches, a tad of honey and then top with chocolate chips! It is a toddler hit I tell you! And as for smoothies, well that is just an easy way to get a child to load up on fruits and veggies! They will feel so cool drinking what they consider to be an "adult type drink." If only they really knew what was in there!
Dinner Time. If you're food isn't organic or necessarily natural, don't sweat it. Not everyone strives for that or has the budget for it (although there really isn't much cost difference) just strive to cook things that don't come in a box! The fewer boxes in your pantry, the better! I am by no means a Rachel Ray, I just strive to cook real food that is as organic and fresh as I can make it. Sure I use some processed staples (like I don't make my own tomato sauce -- I'm not that talented), but many of our meals are made of real food with little additives and preservatives.
What are some of your shortcuts or tricks to get kids to eat healthier? My new one to try is zucchini and egg plant noodles! Little Bug has tried it once and loved it, so perhaps this is a great way to sneak in some extra veggies!
Kids need their fruits and veggies to strive, grow and focus. Let's all strive to serve our kids what they deserve, because we all (myself included), can slack at times. While it's okay to be lazy and indulge here and there, we can't let life get in the way of healthy eating!