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Mealtime Struggles Banished
We grew up in an era of TV dinners, Saturday morning cartoons, and drinking water from the garden hose. As our parents prioritized convenience over health, so too do we in our children’s world, which is an ever-on-the-go lifestyle. Combined with an innate preference for sweetness, today’s lifestyles can make it difficult to convince children (and adults, if we’re honest) to ditch the chicken nuggets for a variety of healthy food options.
So, how’s a parent supposed to win dinner-time battles when time and money are a premium?
Swap grease for the grill
There is no denying that grilled foods are healthier than those deep-fried and battered. Grilling, especially if you have a propane unit, may actually even be faster than frying and comes with the added benefit of exceptional flavor. When you grill foods, their natural flavors are more prominent and they will wind up juicier and more visually appealing. Be cautious when you fire up the backyard barbecue, however, as an unmaintained grill can cause injuries. Angie’s List offers grilling safety tips for both gas and charcoal grills.
Make each night unique
While leftovers are certainly a staple for lunch, avoid the temptation to overcook on Monday and eat the same thing throughout the week. Variety is the spice of life, and that’s not just hyperbole. Give your family a taste tour with themed dinner nights. And we’re not just talking about taco Tuesday. You might, for instance, plan a slow cooker Sunday, Mediterranean Monday, or sushi Saturday. Slender Kitchen offers more ideasand links to numerous healthy recipes, including baked blackened tilapia and roasted poblano cheeseburgers.
Visit the Farmers’ Market
Your farmers market has so much more than vegetables. These often open-air marketplaces will allow your children the opportunity to meet and greet the people that grow their food. They will be awarded an opportunity to taste new things, especially at the beginning of each season when farmers are more than happy to slice open a watermelon or dice up a few peaches to tempt tiny taste buds. Plus, it is a fun afternoon outing that will give you and your family a chance to unplug.
Go for diversity
It is not enough to swap up your style of cooking, if you want to truly enjoy health benefits, you need to include a diverse range of foods. In other words, beef tacos followed by Mongolian steak and noodles won’t cut it. Dr. Deanna Minich, author of The Rainbow Diet, explains that eating foods from a number of categories will enhance the diversity of your gut microbes, lower your risk of developing a food allergy or intolerance, and help reduce systemic inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Don’t skip the grains
Grains get a bad reputation. Foods such as white bread and flour-based cakes aren’t the best option for a healthy diet, but the Mayo Clinic asserts that a diet rich with whole grains is actually good for you. Sources of whole grains include brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and pasta for you spaghetti lovers. Even more good news: popcorn is considered a grain. Just make sure you use an air popper and don’t smother it in salt and butter.
Let the kids lend a hand
Finally, if you want your entire family to eat well, you have to give even the smallest members of your pack a voice when it comes to what they eat. This does not mean you have to let your four-year-old dictate dinner, but listen to their concerns about the menu. Kids should also be encouraged to help out in the kitchen. One great way to keep them interested is to let them pair some of their favorite fruits and vegetables with things they may not like. For instance, raisins go quite well with hot oatmeal, and there are few things more delicious and refreshing than a strawberry and spinach salad.
End the Veggie Battle With Your Children
What’s the deal with vegetables and so many kids’ reluctance to eat them? If you, like millions of equally frustrated parents, fear that nary a leafy lettuce leaf or crunchy carrot ever will pass through your child’s clamped lips, do not despair! Try these suggestions:
Variety! Cooked vegetables don’t haveto be boring. Boiling a vegetable for 10 minutes in unsalted water and plopping them seasoned with just a bit of salt on a plate isn’t appetizing at all! To change things up, check out these recipes.
Get excited! You don’t have to hold a pep rally with every vegetable dish, but excitement’s contagious. Who wouldn’t want to see why you’re super excited about eating squash?
Be a role model.Set good examples with your own eating.
Prep the kids!Don’t surprise your kiddos with something brand new on their plates, especially if they’re naturally suspicious of “new stuff.” Invite them to check out the vegetable before you cook it and then explain to them what you’re adding to the dish to make it taste good.
Invite them into the kitchen.Let your kids squash a tomato, peel a carrot, or slice a cucumber with a kid-safe nylon knife(yes, they really work). Give them a tour of your spice rack and ask them to choose the flavors to add to cooking vegetables (and other foods).
Go for raw! Many kids don’t like the texture of cooked vegetables, but a crunchy baby carrot or cauliflower florette tastes great dunked in a little hummus or veggie dip.
Introduce foods early.A baby’s taste buds are most receptive to change between age seven and 12 months. If you start with too-bland foods, introducing stronger flavors later can cause “taste bud overload.”
Don’t ask your kid to taste, eat, or try a vegetable. Instead — invite your child to interact with the vegetable in a different way. Create a contest to see which of your children can crunch celery the loudest.
Create a reward chart. If charts motivate your kiddos, use a reward chartfor them to track how many fruits and vegetables they eat each day.
Don’t force kids to eat what they don’t like. It can take eight to 10 (or more) times of presenting a new foodbefore a kiddo decides she likes it. Try the “one bite, chew & swallow” rule.
Disguise them!Puree vegetables like carrots and spinach and add them to spaghetti sauce. Dice carrots, celery, and leafy vegetables, and add them (with little beans) to chicken or other soups. Add to a smoothie. Sometimes changing the presentation’s all it takes.
Take him shopping.Spend time wandering through the produce section. Allow your kiddo to touch the different vegetables and fruits to feel the textures and check out their smells.
Visit the Farmers Market
Want your kids to experience shopping in a completely new way? Take them to the farmers market! They’re perfect for teaching your kids about food and its sources. Plus, many vendors offer samples and that encourages everyone to try new textures, flavors, and ingredients.
Often, you get to meet the farmers — and then the kids have a chance to ask a lot of questions. If your farmers market is open year-round, it’s also an opportunity for your children to see how local produce changes with the seasons. Make a game out of choosing one new vegetable or fruit to try each week. Encourage your kids to pick the new food and help you look for recipes when you’re ready to prepare it.
In addition to providing an opportunity to see food closer to its source, farmers markets reinforce the value of local food and community building. These markets thrive when they’re well-supported, because you’re buying food directly from the farmers.
The best advice? Approach vegetables with a new eye: relax your ideas of what vegetables should taste like. Try new presentations and new flavors. Add different spices, herbs, and other ingredients. If you’re having fun with vegetables, your kids will want in on that fun, too.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
Your donations help us bring affordable access to local fresh food to those with limited resources.
The mission of the Danbury Farmers’ Market Community Collaborative is to provide Affordable Access to Local Fresh Food – thus all of our programs – and sustainability of CT farms.
Every Saturday, from the end of June through the end of October, the Danbury Farmers’ Market Community Collaborative (DFMCC) enables everyone to share in the excitement and benefits of fresh local fruits, vegetables, specialty food items, music and special events.
Better Food For Better Health
Obesity and poor nutrition at all ages, underlying factors in most chronic diseases are strongly associated with the inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables. Those with limited resources tend to purchase less fruits and vegetables. Through direct cash incentives at the market, the DFMCC continues to attack disparities in food purchasing power. Research shows that 79% of the project participants increased their intake of fruits and vegetables.
Striving to provide equitable access to fresh food for all Danbury area residents, and promote health and nutrition, the collaborative of more than 30 community stakeholders, works to both enable those now excluded by limited resources to purchase fresh, local food at the Danbury Farmers’ Market and enhance the market experience for all. Healthy shoppers, healthy vendor profits and a healthy local economy are the goals. At its core, Better Health through Better Food is a community-wide health and nutrition enhancement and engagement campaign, a sustainable agriculture initiative, and an economic development strategy.
DFMCC Nutrition Incentives
For those with limited resources, providing additional cash (purchasing power) is the best incentive to increase buying of local fresh fruits and vegetables. Using a market coin system, DFMCC enables Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly know as Food Stamps) recipients to use their benefits at the market and matches up to $25 per market to buy nutritious food. DFMCC also matches up to $9 per market for Seniors and Women, Infant & Children’s program (WIC) recipients using Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Vouchers (FMNP).
For those not receiving government food assistance, Fruit and Veggie Certificates are available through 2 community health centers.
We’re looking forward to our third year on the Danbury CityCenter Green with adjacent complimentary parking, weekly live music, food demos and tastings, the FREE Downtown Trolley and lots more.
So much happening makes this THE place to be on Saturdays.
Look for more Family Days and Free give-away days.
NEW THIS YEAR Each market, we will match any amount of your SNAP/EBT dollars. We’ve taken the cap off SNAP.
FREQUENT SNAP Shopper PROGRAM
Each time you spend $5 of your SNAP money you get a punch. After 5 punches, you get a $10 bonus of fruit and veggie coins to spend.
Double your SNAP Money! Plus
We will also match your WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Vouchers.
Our Food and Nutrition Demos with the $15 market produce gift certificates will continue and special health produce certificates for Veterans will be available.