|Playing with their food|
Playing with their food
By Alyssa Rolnick RD., MHSC.
As parents, we all know the importance of healthy nutrition, but don’t often get the chance to talk about it with our children. Now that school’s out and your kids tend to be around the house a little more, why not take this opportunity to teach them about healthy eating with some fun cooking ideas and activities.
You can start by reminding your kids about the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide and encouraging them to keep the food groups – especially vegetables and fruit – in mind when making meal and snack choices. Have them look at their plate when they eat to see what food groups may be missing. Then, talk about ways they can include them.
Try these fun, healthy eating ideas and recipes this summer with your kids:
Food adventures Take a trip to a local farmer’s market, pick-your-own farm or grocery store and go on a veggie and fruit find. This is a great way to encourage your kids to try new things and the produce is plentiful during the summertime. My kids love picking and eating sweet peas right out of their pods or choosing a new variety of fruit to try such as mangos and kiwis.
Crafty snacks Being creative with food sometimes makes it so much more enjoyable to eat. Have your kids make ants on a log, (cream-cheese filled celery sticks topped with raisins), or a smiley face on a plate using two whole-grain crackers for eyes, a low-fat cheese cube for the nose and sliced grapes for a smiley mouth (full-size grapes can be a choking hazard).
Dream dinners During a cooking class my younger son recently attended, he made “sandcastles” using cooked, whole-wheat couscous mixed with steamed frozen carrots, corn and peas, packing the mixture in a paper cup and upending it on a plate. He never used to eat couscous at home, but now can’t get enough of his “sandcastles.” Another fun meal my kids love is mini slider hamburgers on mini whole-grain buns. While your kids can’t really help cook these burgers (for food safety reasons), they will love topping them with sliced tomatoes or avocado. Plus, sliders are the perfect serving size for little hands and stomachs.
Tasty treats Most kids love sweet treats and this recipe for ice cream cake cones is always a real hit. Rather than satisfying a sweet craving with empty-calorie foods, encourage your kids to eat more fruit, and what better way than these kabobs drizzled with chocolate. They are so much fun to make and eat together anytime of the day.
Energy spenders Remember, your kids need to be physically active every day of the week. Before or after meals, take your kids to your local park and play catch or tag, ride your bikes for a half hour, or turn on some music and play dance freeze.
Posted: July 2011