Healthy Living: Kids can enjoy healthful food
by Julia Blanton
Feb 17, 2011 | 1786 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I can't help but smile and feel a sense of modest pride when I remember the look on my friend's face as the five children (ages 1 to 6) sitting at my dinner table chanted, “More tofu! More green beans! More quinoa!”

OK, so the 1-year-old yelled something more like "Aaahhhhh!" but her message was crystal clear.

My friend, and fellow mom, was in disbelief that I got them not only to eat a fresh, healthy meal without bribery or threats, but actually to beg for more.

You may be skeptical, faced with the typical challenge of the “picky eater” and swayed by the undeniable convenience of packaged snacks and processed foods. Those factors, along with multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns aimed at convincing us that Froot Loops, Goldfish, Go-gurt, and Lunchables are healthy choices, often override our better judgment about what to feed our children. (You can learn more about behind-the-scenes marketing tactics in Marion Nestle's, “What To Eat.”) What we’ve come to identify as “kid food” is truthfully mostly processed junk food made from poor-quality, cheap ingredients.

Children need fresh, nutrient-dense foods to support healthy development of their body, nervous system and brain. By making a weekly trip to your local farmers market and sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store (and out of the aisles), you can easily achieve this. The farmers market provides a great opportunity to get kids involved; let them sample the foods and help choose which to buy.

As for drinks, kids should mostly drink water. Limit juice to no more than one cup of 100 percent fruit juice per day, and avoid soda, diet soda and other sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages all together.

It is our job as parents to teach our children healthy eating habits that empower them to thrive physically, emotionally and socially. To deliver on this important promise, we must set aside time to shop for and prepare fresh, whole foods.

Here is a sample menu of healthy kid-friendly meals, snacks and desserts that have won star approval from my toughest critics. Find more ideas on my website.

Breakfast

Warm oatmeal (not instant) with a drizzle of pure maple syrup and a dollop of coconut oil. Mix in a spoonful of nut butter for a protein boost.

Lunch and snack for school

Turkey (nitrate- and nitrite-free) sandwich on sprouted multigrain bread, snap peas, sliced apple, peanut butter pretzels and water.

Dinner

Browned tofu cubes (briefly marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, honey and powdered ginger), baked sweet potato and steamed green beans.

Dessert

Frozen mango chunks.

These meals are healthy and delicious. Enjoy!

Julia Blanton is a nutrition, fitness and wellness coach. An avid runner, she works at Club One in Scotts Valley and keeps a health blog at www.juliablanton.com.

Did you follow Julia’s January detox? E-mail Julia your experience at ask.juliab@yahoo.com.

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