Originally posted in Brown Box Newsletter 2013. Tips for parents (below).
We LOVE kids! We are passionate about preventative health and know that what kids grow up eating will have a huge impact on their lifelong health. It’s no small thing to us that we get to be a part of many families endeavor to make good food a mainstay in their homes. We think that it is fantastic that parents recognize that they have the ultimate responsibly to protect their children’s growing bodies. We know the best foods are colorful chemical free fruits and veggies served with other organic unprocessed foods. We also know that big companies are targeting children from processed food manufacturers to industrial farming new GMO’s. See more on this below. These added hurdles make raising healthy children a challenge!
People often ask me how we get our kids to eat their veggies. This makes me laugh! We have some very different preferences in our family so it would be impossible to cater to the specific requests every time. The truth is my children sometimes talk like they are picky but they eat what we serve them. The Browns like to eat! We did learn a few things from naturopathic doctors, nutritionist and friends that I believe may have helped us along the way.
#1. Start young. We served organic produce as first foods and they were included in every meal and given as snacks when our children were young. Still, it’s never too late. Already have older children? Start today. Every little bit is a big step in the right direction.
#2. Work Together. We have always had our children prepare with us and help plan the menu as they grow older. Even tiny toddlers can rip lettuce or help stack veggies on a tray. Older children can make amazing meals!
#3 Make it Easy. Keeping our home stocked up on fruit and vegetables makes it easy to grab the good stuff. (Part of our mission at Brown Box)
#4 Don’t Buy It. When we were first changing to organic and whole food eating we had a very tight budget. This meant we had to give up the expensive processed foods. The result was fantastic. We ended up eating the good stuff because that is what we had. Since then I remember not to bring processed junk in our home unless I determine we want our kids to eat it.
#5 Don’t Give Up. Some children are more reluctant to try new things. (Adults too!) We have found some things we serve over and over before they are received well. I have to admit. I didn’t like most vegetables until I had tried them several times several ways. I wouldn’t even eat a bell pepper, onion, cucumber or beet until I was in my twenties and learned to cook them myself.
#6 Make it fun. There are tons of great resources on-line about making fresh fruit and veggies fun. My kids seem to especially like when I make fresh produce into design on their plate. I recently saw palm trees on a beach made with orange slices as the ground, bananas as the tree trunk (sliced) and kiwi peeled and wedged as the palm tree leaves. I made that for afterschool snack and all the ages loved it.
#7 Hide it. We haven’t used this technique very much but there are entire books on strategy to hide produce. I would do this if that’s what it took. *wink* The closest thing we do is make muffins and breads with shredded zucchini and carrots. We also put a LOT of baby spinach in our smoothies and soups since our children like a break from chewing. They know it’s in there (the green color gives it away) but it doesn’t seem like a huge pile to chew on. In the summer we freeze our smoothies in popsicle containers.
#8 Be the Example. Simple as that. Let them learn by watching you. My kinder age son did a mothers day paper recently at school. On it he listed salad as my favorite food. That isn’t my favorite food, but I do eat it almost every day. They are watching!
#9 See it Grow. When our first son was tiny we lived in an apartment. We grew a few things in pots and visited many farms. Seeing food grow makes it more exciting. Want a growing experience for your family? Give us a call or email. We can schedule something.