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Helping Children Learn to Love Nutritional Foods

January 14, 2016

A friend and I often give each other ?Nutritional Nuggets.? Little ideas to help us encourage healthy eating in the home. With two young boys who could easily be pegged picky eaters, I am always looking for new and inventive ways to ensure they?re eating nutritiously. So here?s my nutritional nugget to you:
Reintroduce, reintroduce, reintroduce! I make it a habit as a parent to NEVER confine my children?s palate to a once or twice reaction. In fact, we avoid assigning likes and dislikes to food as we understand it to be ever-evolving . I encourage my children that our tastebuds are always changing and that it?s exciting to try foods again and again waiting for the day that our mouth appreciates them.
Some people are shocked when my five year old begs for broccoli with dinner, but they might be more surprised to learn about the year my son fell in love with broccoli. As a two year old he was offended by the site of it. I would tell him that he didn?t have to eat it, but it did have to stay on his plate. Over time it?s smell and appearance became acceptable to him and we were ready to encourage a lick. The first lick resulted in full on body chills. It would be weeks before that lick turned into a bite. It was never a source of contention as I would simply ask ?Let?s see what your tongue thinks of broccoli today.? Becoming familiar and comfortable with broccoli meant pretending they were little trees sometimes or coloring pictures of broccoli and learning about the many nutrients in broccoli and how those nutrients help our bodies stay healthy. While still in the infancy of our broccoli love affair, we looked at broccoli seeds and learned how broccoli grows.
When a friend remarks ?You?re so lucky that your son loves vegetables!? I think back to those early days of chills and repulsion and can say with complete confidence that loving vegetables can be learned. Would you believe that from the days of praying he?d take a lick, it is now the first thing eaten off his plate at dinner time. In fact, sometimes the only thing, but I?ll take it!
If I could leave you with one ?Nutritional Nugget? to encourage your child?s healthy eating habits it would be to avoid entertaining the idea that there are nutritional foods they don?t like. We easily fall into patterns and adjust our shopping and cooking to the likes and dislikes of our children until we are no longer introducing certain foods assuming they don?t like them. Children are much less likely to make long-term decisions about foods or activities than us adults, and it?s helpful if we don?t put that level of commitment into their daily whims. Also by avoiding saying ?S/he doesn?t like broccoli? we are not attaching this to our children and they have more freedom to change their minds.
Recently I took my son out to eat at a diner where he was allowed to choose ANYTHING he wanted off the menu. He ordered ?Carrots, an apple, and french fries.? Okay, you?ve got me on the fries, but the point is that these are the foods he wants to eat, not the foods he has to eat. And don?t even get me started on how many times I picked up spit out carrots off my floor before he actually started to swallow them. Good luck with all your nutritional goals for this year and happy reintroducing!


Baked Broccoli Bites


Call it our new alternative to a tater-tot. Kids love tater-tots and who doesn’t? But they are just not the best thing for you. Even if you make them at home with good fats, it is still just potato, and in my mind, that is the least nutritious vegetable you (or your kids) can eat. Instead, let’s make it green. Let’s use broccoli, with some cheddar, and you have a tasty broccoli-cheddar-soup-like-snack, yum! Add some eggs and almond meal to help bring it all together, and now what we have is a flavorful, cheesy morsel you can serve to your kids to dip in their favorite condiment. We made it with dinner as an appetizer, and as you can see, the kids loved it. This will definitely be made again, in bulk, and kept on hand to throw in the oven any day we feel we will need an extra snack. And there are veggies in it, hallelujah! Finally a snack with veggies not just the adults, but the kids can enjoy. Did I mention they are gluten-free? Yep, no breadcrumbs in this recipe, just some almond meal for binding. Took me roughly 25 minutes to make, and if you have pre-steamed broccoli on hand or frozen, it is even quicker. Easy, healthy and tasty; the perfect snack for the whole family any time of the day. Enjoy!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup steamed broccoli, (about 2 cups raw, chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, from grass-fed cows
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2 pastured eggs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • grass-fed butter to grease pan

What to Do:

  1. Prepare to steam your broccoli by bringing 2 cups of water to a boil in a steamer. Add your chopped broccoli and steam for about 10 minutes or until fork is inserted easily. Allow to drain and chill in freezer while you prep your other ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add chopped broccoli, cheese and almond meal and gently mix together with a spoon
  3. Preheat oven to 375?. Using your hands, form the broccoli into bite sized balls and place onto greased pan.
  4. Once you have used up all your ingredients, bake in preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, turning half way through until golden.

Makes about 20 bites


source: icpa4kids.org


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