Moms constantly tell me they wish they could get their kids to eat more vegetables. A study done back in 1982 showed it can take preschool children as many as 10 tastes over a period of weeks before they embrace a new food. My experience with my own kids exactly matches this result. When they were very young, I continued putting a small serving of vegetables on their plates every day (the ones they didn’t like). After many weeks they started eating them. My oldest daughter wouldn’t even touch a salad and now she asks for one every evening at dinner. We even have a running joke in our house about whose oven roasted vegetables taste best – Mom’s or Dad’s.
We’ve made in a point in our home to discuss why we eat the foods we eat. Years ago I decided to teach my kids what I’ve learned in my own personal research so they could better understand why our pantry and fridge look so different from some other homes. We discuss sugars, whole grains, why we buy organic, genetically modified foods, corn syrup, etc. We try to prepare our kids for life outside our home and help them make informed choices for themselves. Every day, every time we eat, we have a choice to make. “Will I eat something that provides nourishment for my body or something unhealthy?” My girls know it’s often as simple as that.
My friends always ask me if we ever splurge. Of course! For example, I tell the kids that if they go to a party featuring candy, soda, and cake, maybe they should choose to eat the soda and cake but leave the candy out. It’s simple little choices like this that my kids now understand they have the control to make.
Last week my daughter’s class wrote about healthy eating. Bubbling with excitement, she handed me this:
“Eating healthy food is very important because it keeps our bodies physically fit. Eating things with small amounts or no sugar in them is a good way to keep your body healthy. Another way is to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy. Healthy foods can really help prevent sickness too. It can really change the way you look and how you feel.
Eating things with small amounts of sugar or no sugar at all can keep your body healthy. For example, if you ate candy for a snack, that is not very good for your body. But, if you ate a granola bar instead, it would be a healthier choice because it has less sugar. When I get home from school my mom always says to have a fruit or vegetable for a snack. Eating things with less sugar is a good way to stay healthy.
To stay healthy, eating lots of fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy will help a lot. These are very healthy because they have a lot of the vitamins and minerals you need every day. Also, drinking water instead of soda is a very good way to stay healthy. When I went on vacation once, I had a lot of treats. At the end, I just really wanted a salad!
Healthy foods can help prevent sickness too. For example, if you eat junk food all the time you can get sick quick. But, if you eat healthy foods, you have a less chance of getting sick. My mom cooks very healthy foods, and by that I haven’t gotten sick for about two years! Eating foods that are good for you can really change you a lot.” ~ my 9 year old daughter.
As you can imagine, I was so proud to read these words and to know that if we teach our kids about healthy eating, they can understand so much, so quickly.
I had the opportunity to appear on Life.Style show along with Michelle Stern this week where we discussed the topic “Cooking with Kids”. If you’d like to hear more on this topic head on over to The Pulse.
My kids are huge fans of oats with maple syrup and cream so I thought I’d change it up a bit and use amaranth. Amaranth is a gluten-free grain that can be used as a porridge or also ground up and used as flour. It has 28 grams of protein in one cup and contains high amounts of magnesium, iron and fiber – a great way to start your morning. So this week, bring your kids into the kitchen with you, teach them about a new grain and let them have fun putting on their own toppings. I’m pretty sure they’re going to love it.
The maple sweetened coconut flakes is a mixture of 1/4 cup maple syrup and 2 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes. Stir the two ingredients in a bowl, spread on a baking sheet, and bake at 300ºF for about 8 minutes until toasted. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Maple sweetened coconut flakes
Dried apricots, chopped
The night before stir together amaranth, lemon juice and 1 cup of water in a small bowl. Leave at room temperature overnight.
The following morning bring 1 1/2 cups of water to boil in a medium sauce pan. Add amaranth, stir, and lower to medium heat. Simmer amaranth for about 15-18 minutes until tender. Spoon amaranth into bowls and top with maple syrup, cream, coconut, apricots, and walnuts.
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