Developing your child’s healthy eating habits at a young age is essential to programming little taste buds to autopilot their way around the junk and make–and crave–wholesome food choices. Eating healthy not only makes for happy kids, but happy parents, too! But where to start?
In their new book, “The Little Big Cookbook for Moms: 250 of the Best Family Recipes,” (Welcome Books) New York City working mothers Alice Wong and Natasha Tabori Fried (above) lay down their Top 10 Ways to Get Your Child to Eat Better (p.30 in the book).
It’s just one of many such lists in the small, but mighty cookbook. Compact (6.5” x 6.5”), but comprehensive, its 352 pages pack in 250 delicious and nutritious get-it-done recipes–for kids and adults–as well as a variety of guides, menus and loads of practical mom-to-mom advice to calm the nerves and bolster the kitchen confidence of moms everywhere.
“Natasha and I talked across our desks daily about creating one go-to dream cookbook that would answer all those concerns we had about how to feed our children the best food possible and efficiently! Sure, there is tons of information online, but what mother do you know who has the time to plow through it all? This is a cookbook for the whole family. ” More + Alice and Natasha’s healthy snack recipe for Baked Kale Chips, at the bottom of the page.
Top 10 Ways to Get Your Child to Eat Better
1. Take time to introduce new foods. Children’s taste buds aren’t always ready for new flavors or textures. Be patient if your son or daughter shows resistance to trying new foods. Introduce a new food again at a later date or sneak it into a dish that you know they already love. Of course, revealing that a favorite relative, celebrity, or hero likes spinach can work wonders to get your tot to try it.
2. Break that fast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day—make it count. You can prepare whole-grain waffles on the weekend and freeze them for the coming week. Pop them in the toaster oven in the mornings and top with fresh fruit, yogurt, and honey for a quick, delicious, and nutritious way to start the day.
3. Plan ahead. Keep your pantry packed with basic staples that make it easy to whip up nutritious meals. Think about variations on whole-grain pasta, bread, or rice; sautéed, steamed or fresh vegetables; and a protein source such as tofu, poultry, meat, fish, cheese, or beans. Casseroles, stews, and chili are also easy ways to serve a balanced meal in a single dish.
4. Encourage young cooks. As your children grow, encourage them to participate in shopping for, preparing, and creating meals. When kids can be creative in the kitchen, they’ll naturally show more interest in what they’re eating
5. Dress it up. If your children aren’t excited about fruits and vegetables, try creative sauces, hummus, and salsas. Blend plain yogurt with seasonings for dipping vegetables or fruit (page 144). Try salad dressings on raw veggies (page 201). Make smoothies or blended fruits (pages 58 and 63).
6. Pack a picnic. If you know that you’ll be spending a fair amount of time driving the kids to and from school and extracurricular activities, maintain a cooler in the car to keep the munchies (and grumpies) at bay. Stock it with fresh-chopped veggies, nuts, granola, yogurt, water, apples, and bananas.
7. Don’t make a fuss. Try to resist making comments on what or how much your children are eating. As long as you are doing your part to serve them balanced and nutritious meals, the rest is up to the kids. Telling them to finish every bite of their dinner may end up creating resistance rather than compliance.
8. Create simple, flexible menus. Don’t get trapped into making separate meals for all the members of your family. Plan menus that you can serve family style, and allow your children to choose what they want to eat. Eventually, they may follow your example to sample everything.
9. Have a healthy attitude. Your approach to diet, health, exercise, and lifestyle sets an example for your children. If you skip meals or make unbalanced choices, your kids may think that’s okay for them, too. By listening to your body to tell you when you’re full or hungry, your children will learn to do the same.
10. Make food time a fun time. Get creative in the kitchen. You can turn a morning of pancakes into a smiley-face contest. Cut and arrange sandwiches to represent different animals. Make a meal of just mini foods or try serving “breakfast” for dinner. And take on ideas from your kids—your enthusiasm will be infectious.
Baked Kale Chips*
“We love the kale chips! It is so important to think about healthy habits early. If you start your 1 year old on cheese doodles, it’s going to be really hard to wean him off them for something healthier later,” Fried advises. “Kale chips are just as addictive as potato chips, but also great way to add nutritious kale to your child’s diet regularly. (See Great Greens Sauté (page 284) for nutritional information.)
1 bunch kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon pimentón (smoked paprika) (optional)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (optional)
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 275°F.
2 Remove the stems and tough center ribs from the kale and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Rinse and thoroughly dry the leaves—the leaves should be really dry! Toss with the olive oil and salt and arrange in a single layer on baking sheets.
3 Bake until the leaves are crisp but still dark green—they get bitter when they turn brown—turning the leaves halfway through the baking time, about 20 to 30 minutes total.
4 Sprinkle with the paprika and granulated garlic or with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve as finger food or crumble over popcorn.
Serves 2 to 4
*p.148 in “The Little Big Cookbook for Moms” Snacks & Small Bites section.
For more information and a peek inside “The Little Big Cookbook for Moms“–including the best roast chicken recipe you’ll ever make–please visit www.welcomebooks.com/littlebigcookbookformoms and click the LOOK INSIDE button. And pick up Alice and Natasha’s previous and perfect companion book, the bestselling ‘Little Big Book for Moms.” More parenting and children’s books, including the play-with-your-food sensation, “Funny Food,” can be found here.