Working as a nanny I have found that the most important thing to getting kids to eat healthy food is to start when they are young, and as they get older, making healthy food fun really helps them to stay on the right track. As parents and caregivers to the children in our lives, we are able to help pave a path that they can take and benefit from for the rest of their lives.
When working with infants I like to begin introducing solids with savory soft foods first like squashes and avocados and waiting before introducing sweeter foods like bananas and apples. Once they’ve acquired a taste and liking for sweet foods, it’s likely going to be harder to get them to eat their vegetables as well.
I’ve worked with a lot of infants and really young children over the years, and more recently have been working with older children as well, around the ages of 3-6. I am encouraged seeing how much kids really enjoy healthy food when they have the taste for it, when they get to participate in the preparation or be engaged with the food in some way while eating it and when it’s just fun. Kids always want to have fun, and this carries over into food. One way to make food fun is with the presentation and here are just a few protein and nutrient rich food ideas that I’ve used and had success with over the years. I will continue to add more with time. I do love these tasty treats and eat them regularly myself.
Almond butter is great of course because it is rich in protein. Apples, bananas and celery make for a great base, and cinnamon and honey are full of immune strengthening and anti-inflammatory properties.
I set these up usually to allow the kids to have as much participation as possible, unless under a time constraint of course. They love topping the celery with either raisins or Goji berries. Apples and bananas with either cinnamon and/or honey, and on special occasions I even pull out the sprinkles. If there is something here you’ve tried before or plan to make, I will love to hear what other wonderful ideas you come up with!
Note: A fun trick to making something like a plain apple or banana fun to eat is to slice a few pieces and then put them back together. Sell it to the kids as ‘Puzzle’ fruit!
This hearty, healthy and simple dish is easy to make, and a real delicious treat. I find it to be grounding, warm and soothing especially for the colder times of year. It’s something I threw together today before work and look forward to duplicating as well as expanding on with different herbs and spices. Give it a try, and be sure to let me know what you think.
Mushrooms (baby Bella)
Onion, sliced thinly
Garlic (fresh or powder)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Thaw and gently cook chickpeas over medium heat with a teaspoon or so of water, until soft when pierced with a fork.
2. Sautée onions with coconut oil, then add mushrooms and garlic. I also added a bit of ‘Earth Balance Roasted Garlic and Herbs’ vegan butter for easy source of extra flavor. (Opt.) Always fresh herbs are of course the best, but this is great for when you find yourself cooking with a time limit.
3. Cover chickpeas with several handfuls of rinsed spinach and let steam for a minute or two.
4. Combine everything, season with salt and pepper to taste and top with hemp seeds.
This simple dish came to life recently while sharing food with friends over the weekend. I’ve had the pleasure of picking up fresh produce from a local farm market for many weeks now and this time I found this wonderfully colored cauliflower. It was orange, unlike any I’ve ever seen and kept it’s color nicely when steamed. I tried to pick other vegetables that would compliment the cauliflower nicely, while also adding color to the dish. I do love the colors found in fresh, natural foods! In order to maintain the flavor of the cauliflower I separately sauteed the kale, using stronger spices, and then combined everything, the flavors from the kale then adding nicely to the dish as a whole. Of course I like just about anything topped with hemp seeds for extra protein and texture, and they are very mild in flavor. This dish came about the same evening I made Curried Spaghetti Squash and the two dishes complimented each other nicely when eaten or even mixed together.
saute kale (with cayenne, garlic and spices)
salt and pepper
hemp seeds (opt)
Steam cauliflower, carrots, onions, celery together until tender but not over-cooked. You should be able to tell desired tenderness by the feel of poking veges with a fork. Season lightly with vegan butter, garlic powder and salt.
Saute fresh garlic, kale, cayenne, coriander and cumin with coconut oil or grape seed oil and any other seasonings you may be called to use. Kale cooks quickly, be sure not to over cook it.
Combine together all ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.