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.