Our experiences with our kids have confirmed that nutrition is, in fact, as important as those experts say. Maybe even more important. Over the past months, we have been working diligently to improve what we are eating. Unfortunately, healthy food has a bad rap for not being the tastiest. A major nutrition makeover can be a little tricky with 6 kids to please. Here are some ways we are staying healthy AND happy.
- Give choices. While we have a strict you-must-have-a-veggie-at-lunch-and-dinner rule, we let each kid name their veggie within reason. Favorites include cucumber chunks and slices, unpeeled, raw carrots, frozen sweet peas, edamame, yellow split pea stew, roasted broccoli, green beans, and Caesar salad. I do my best to keep at least one veggie that each kid likes in stock. The more expensive choices I tend to only buy occasionally, and I buy in bulk whenever possible. This freedom of choice may seem like more work than it’s worth, but we’ve made it work by requiring our older kids to be responsible for preparing their own vegetables. The dishes that require prep by me are special treats.
- Grow it. The more I find out about mass food production, the less I want to eat. Because homegrown produce does not have to last through transit and retail time, it can be harvested (and eaten) at its peak ripeness. Ripeness means more natural sugar and enzymes which improve the taste and decrease the risk of digestion issues. You may be surprised to find you and your family like a wider variety of veggies than you thought. If you do not have the time or space for a large garden, try container gardening or join community supported agriculture (CSA).
- Roast or grill it. Gone are the days of mushy broccoli and limp asparagus. No wonder veggie eating has always been such a chore. If you haven’t already, try roasting your favorite (or least favorite) veggie. Standard protocol is to spray or brush it with your favorite oil and lightly salt it. Then, roast it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until tender crisp (barely cooked) or toasty crisp (cooked until brown and crunchy). Broccoli gets toasty crisp if you roast it long enough, but we prefer our asparagus tender crisp. Other things to try are green beans, kale, cauliflower, radishes, beets, and turnips.
- Blend it. When all else fails (or when you are in the mood for something sweeter), make a smoothie. Our current favorite is a variety of frozen fruit, hemp hearts, powdered calcium supplement, powdered vitamin C, water, and frozen kale. If the vitamin C makes it too sour, we add a shot of agave nectar. You can also add spinach or carrots.
Remember to shower your kids with praise when they go out on a limb and try something new. Encourage them to be creative and help you find more ways to make tastier veggies and better food choices. If you have something that works for your family, please share!
Image Source:// All Author’s Own