Last week my younger niece, Isa Bella, stayed with us for four nights. I know she enjoyed her stay and playing with Uncle Luke (sometimes pronounced “look”). Yet, I sometimes struggle with what to feed her.
Okay, I tend to obsess about it.
When it comes to nutrition I tend to offer different foods than what she is used to getting at home. She is a real trooper and willingly tries new foods. For instance one morning I was slicing red bell peppers when she asked for a slice. I gave her one. She popped it in her mouth, said “yum” and asked for more!
Also, the last time we were in the grocery store she specifically asked me, “Tata can we get those? (pointing to the red bell peppers).” I was thrilled she wanted them! Red bell peppers are an excellent source of Vitamins A and C; plus they make a delicious raw snack.
So how do I get my kids to try new foods?
Whenever my nieces stay with me I remember to employ these three lessons I have learned from (ahem) previous stay-overs.
Kids are literally hands on and so when I am making breakfast or lunch I try to keep their food interactive. This last week I used a cookie cutter to make star shaped sandwiches and french toast.
I doubt she’ll enjoy the complexities of a fig blended goat cheese spread on a brioche raisin bread (although that sounds so good right now). Instead, I prepare their meals with as few ingredients as possible. The french toast I prepared was a slice of whole grain bread cut into “logs and stars”. It was dipped in an egg white mixture (2 egg whites, 1/2 yolk, 1 tbsp of milk, 1 tsp of vanilla, 1 tsp of cinnamon) and cooked over medium heat until golden and fluffy. We drizzled a small amount of syrup on top with apple slices and a cup of milk.
She finished everything and wanted more!
My Fiance and I eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and when my nieces come over they follow the way we eat: whole grains, vegetables, fruit and lean meats. Kids will often follow the same eating patterns as the adults in their lives. So lead by example and hopefully your child will follow in your footsteps.
I have no doubt Isa ate more vegetables and grains while staying with us and only had dessert once the entire week! No one needs, especially growing children, a bag of donuts nor should they have free access to candy and junk food. Instead, try treating fruit as dessert with drizzled honey or dark chocolate. Sliced apples with lemon juice are just as delicious, too!
What healthy snacks do you give your young ones?
The American Dietetic Association states “Experts are adamant that parents should not put babies or children on diets or restrict nutrient-rich foods.” When we give children junk food or sweets we are denying them nutrient dense foods they need to grow and develop.
Let’s get back to basics and rediscover the wonderful tastes of fruit and vegetables!
- Children’s nutrition: 10 tips for Picky Eaters (MayoClinic.com)
- Kid’s Recipes, including special diets (KidsHealth.org)
- Nutrition Education Games (Nourish Interactive)