A few weeks ago I embarked on a new journey of healthy eating and I bought into shares of a local Organic farm. They send me a full or half bushel (pictured) of amazing organic fruits and veggies either every week or every other week depending on what you choose. Stay tuned for future blogs on just how I incorporated all these wonderful colours into meals my kids would eat . . . well, at least try!!
Today I want to share how I started raising healthy kids. We as parents start making decisions the minute our children are born that will affect how and what they will eat for the rest of their lives. I believe there are some simple steps we can take right from the beginning to give them a healthy start, and besides, we only have a few years before they start to "catch on"!!
Making your own baby food . . . I know I know - blah. Why make your own when there are inexpensive jars of "all natural" baby food on store shelves? Most of those jars are on store shelves because they have preservatives in them so they don't go bad. There are so many benefits to making your own - I realized that when I cook & puree my own veggies I can control the salt, the sugar & the consistency - add more or less water for thicker or thiner baby food . . hint, thicker food is less messy!!
ONLY whole wheat bread . . . my children have never had white bread. Well, not in my house! My oldest was 6 years old before she figured out there even was another kind of bread. Had it at a friends house and thought it was the greatest tasting invention ever! Still none in my house!
Pureed vegetables . . . my kids have long out grown baby food, but I still cook and puree tons of veggies. I am not above hiding vegetables in my spaghetti sauces, macaroni & cheese, hamburger helper meals and even in muffins, cookies and brownies. Why not? They get all the nutrients and I get none of the grief . .they don't even know its in there!! My latest sauce had so much spinach and cauliflower I thought I was caught . .you could see the green bits, but it was a huge hit here.
Healthy cereal . . . No, Fruit Loops are not a healthy cereal! I only buy low sugar, simple cereals for our cupboard which my kids can help themselves to anytime. I offer 4 different cereals but none of them have chocolate or marshmallow thingys in them! I do buy treat cereals for just that, a treat . . but that treat is a dessert or a car snack for long trips. It is never the food they start their day with!
Juice . . . once a day. I'd rather they have real fruit and yes, I know juice from concentrate can be good for you in moderation. I think that is the key. There are good vitamins in juice but also a lot of sugar (26grams in a cup of apple juice!). My kids have always only been allowed 1 juice a day. Once thats done, your other choices are milk or water. And those drinks pretending to be juice? Those crystals and drink blends and juice hidden behind a label that says 'cocktail' . . . they are not juice!! If you do buy juice, make sure it's 100% real juice!
Lastly . . . vitamins, because really I can't talk about healthy kids without talking about vitamins!! Even though my husband formulates, manufactures and sells (amazing!) vitamins, we still make sure our kids eat fruit, grain, vegetable, protein and drink their milk. The vitamins are the extra . . .our girls are not big eaters so we know they need a bit more to get their daily requirements. Once your children reach two years of age, find a vitamin they like to take . . make it a fun and enjoyable experience. These days there are chewables, liquids and gummies on the market, have your child help you pick them out at the store, hand them out at home and take your own vitamins and set a good example. Of course, watch your ingredient lists here too . . .all vitamins are not created equal! Look for ones without sugar fillers, sugar coating, aspartame, coloured dyes or ingredients you can't pronounce or recognize!
I know I can only make the decisions about what my kids eat for a few more years and then they will decide what choices to make at the cafeteria and the grocery store. I can only hope I have given them a few simple lessons to make informed & healthy decisions . . .most of the time! Do you have any simple tricks you use at home?