Okay it's official - Kids love pasta! It's quick and easy to rustle up and the carbohydrates help to re-fuel their energy. Good news is it can be made healthier than the typical white refined pasta dish. Why not try a more wholesome options for your pasts. There are delicious varieties available made from spelt, rice, veggies, and now from quinoa, brown rice, chickpeas and edamame.
Second: Make your own tomato sauce to avoid buying the one that is full of added sugar. This is another quick thing to do on your prep day. You can divide it up and freeze in portions. Rather than just making your sauce with tomato and onion, use this as an opportunity to increase vegetables into their diet. Chop up vegetables such as carrots, pepper, zucchini, egg plant or fennel, roast or sauté them first and then add to your tomato base. Once it is cooked throw it into a blender or food processor to puree it. They don't ever know the difference but still get the pasta they love.
8. Portions and timing.
This is a very important point. Remember kids don't need adult portion sizes, especially if most of it
is in empty calories with white pasta or white rice. Just remember that the most important thing is to see that at least two thirds of their plate is filled with vegetables, and plants and then the rest with good carbs and lean protein. As a rule offer vegetables first. Even before lunch or dinner put down a large platter of veggies with some healthy dip that they can munch on those whilst your are finishing preparing dinner - it's also important that they learn to stop eating once they are full. The younger they learn this they will have a healthier approach to eating in later years. This can be tricky when they say they are full just so they don't have to east some of the more healthier options.
9. No 'Big Deal' eating.
OK, the kids will start rebelling against all the new changes ... that's human nature at least to some degree. So my best advice is: don't make 'healthy' a BIG DEAL. The more you go on and on about how you are trying new healthy ingredients and you aren't sure they will like them but better eat them because they are healthy for them and so forth, it just directs too much attention to the wrong thoughts. By all means educate your kids about healthy food choices, as I'm a big believer that if we
know why we are doing something then we are more inclined to try it and stick with it. The more you push it, the more ammunition they have to wind you up and push your buttons by being difficult about eating it. Try not to make food a battle of wills and power. Just present new foods, new ingredients, new ideas, with a 'no big deal mentality'. The less fuss you make about what goes on the kitchen table the better - then children have fewer pre-conceived ideas about what they like and don't like. Let them figure that out for themselves. Remember, children aren't born only liking sweet, plain and bland foods, we have a lot to do with that, so broaden their horizons by persisting with new ways of eating without any judgement.
10. Get them involved.
This advice has been around for a while, but in reality this can be difficult for many reasons. Getting your kids involved in planning and preparing food help broaden their knowledge about food and cooking so here are a few practical tips that you may find helpful.
Do it on weekends when there is more time. It's more difficult on weekdays when there is chores and homework to attend to.
Find tasks that children can easily help with such as rolling dough, tearing apart herbs and lettuce, whisking together ingredients, counting out precise number of ingredients for recipes, washing vegies and of course using cookie cutters.
As often as possible, create meals where kids can create their own dishes and have control over it. Burritos, tacos, stuffed baked potatoes or sweet potatoes, wraps, pasta dishes, rice paper rolls etc. Remember the more healthier options you give them the better the outcomes.
Ask their opinions about recipes: try getting them to guess ingredients or make suggestions in what they might include.
In a relaxed way start teaching them about the food they are eating. Ask them questions about the ingredients - e.g. Do pickles come from bushes, are avocadoes fruit or vegetables, etc. Get them thinking.
We use to have one day of the week where each child could choose what they wanted to cook. It had to have healthy ingredients but they did get to choose. Of course they had to help prepare it as well, which was fun for everyone.
With all the cooking shows on TV now, why7 not watch these and see if there is anything that you might be able to make together and have some fun with it.
Overall just keep it light, encourage involvement but don't force it, help them find the fun in helping in the kitchen.
I hope this helps guide you on a healthy food journey with your kids.
I would like to acknowledge deliciously Ella who also has a passion for healthy eating for kids.