Kids are picky and go through eating phases. It's pretty normal and expected… believe me, I have had my fair share of those with my own 4 year old! My experience has been to just ride the wave and stay consistent by offering fruits and vegetables at every meal, and I have found that eventually they decide they do like those foods once again. It might take a week, a month or even longer, but with persistence they will most likely reach for the bowl of fruit at breakfast. Children will follow our lead; they watch us, they observe and mimic everything we do, including our eating habits. So, if we want them to eat their veggies, then we should eat ours too, and we need to try to be the healthiest role model out there.
The aim is not to have a perfect diet, but rather to focus on diet improvements and find realistic ways to add more fresh foods throughout our day. I offer fresh food with most meals, but the truth is my son sometimes chooses to skip them all together. So, to ensure my family does get their daily intake of nutritious meals, I find creative and delicious ways to present them.
Here are my secrets:
1. Cauliflower rice: When preparing a rice meal that doesn’t include a vegetable, I mix in riced white cauliflower. You can rice cauliflower by placing it in food processor for a couple of minutes. This is also readily available in the fridge or freezer section at most stores . It is so delicious! Mix in equal parts rice and cauliflower and cook as usual.
2. Smoothies: I throw in a handful of spinach or frozen cauliflower in every smoothie I make, my husband has no idea, and raves about how awesome my smoothies are!
3. Zucchini in burgers or meatballs: I add grated zucchini to the meat mixes; It blends in very well and actually makes the meat more moist.
4. Bone broth to make rice, pasta, quinoa, soup and stews. This is such a simple way to elevate the flavor and nutrition of these comforting foods. Bone broth is so easy to make and I typically use a slow cooker overnight; place chicken or beef bones, veggies of your choice, spices of your choice and some apple cider vinegar (this helps pull out the nutrients from the bones) in a slow cooker then cover with water. Cook 12- 24 hours. Voila!
5. Use apple sauce in oatmeal or in cookie dough: Apple sauce blends in very well without altering flavor, and it is a natural sweetener... so you don't have to add any more sugar!
6. Tomato sauce: Include riced cauliflower or pumpkin puree in your tomato sauce. They work like a charm! When I make a batch of tomato sauce, I add some pumpkin pulp or sautéed riced cauliflower to your sauce then blending it with a hand blender... Voila, rose sauce!
I never add too much as the taste can be overpowering, and the sauce could change color. My son is going through a phase where he wants pizza for every meal, so we make homemade 'pizza' using Ezekiel tortillas as a base, homemade tomato/riced cauliflower sauce topped with cheese... I love how easy and nutritious this is, best of all my son LOVES it!
7. Dates in truffles: I use dates in my 5 Ingredient real chocolate truffles, try these frozen, they are divine!
We live in a world that is busy and rushed, where fast food and boxed goods are inexpensive and available at every corner. Our society and busy lives make it challenging to stay on track, but we need to make a conscious effort to provide healthier choices for ourselves and our families. Let's be the change that advocates eating less processed foods and more fresh foods, this is doable especially since fresh foods are affordable and widely available year round.