Max is my whole life. Really he is. He makes me smile from the minute he wakes up until the time his head hits the pillow. Except when it comes to eating healthy. I try and I try and I try but a lot of the time he just doesn’t like my healthy versions of food compared to the the junky, florescent orange competition from the grocery store. So here is my list of healthy food ideas that helps me feed my son Max a little better.
Explain How Food Effects Health
Max is 10 now. He can understand a little about what makes your body function properly so I let him know it’s not good to eat his Halloween candy for breakfast and why. He’s experienced stomach aches and headaches by now and so he knows that feeling sick is not fun. He’s also experienced sleeplessness after parties where he drank caffeine. I don’t harp, I just point out that food affects how your body feels. Good food makes you feel good, bad food makes you feel bad.
Don’t Give Up…Try, Try Again
I am constantly having Max taste new foods, though sometimes they are not so new (i.e. cauliflower mash). We eat this every once in awhile and I make him taste it each time. He still doesn’t like it but I’m going to keep trying because eventually his taste buds might change. This has finally worked with salads. While not his favorite thing to eat, he will now eat salads with his dinner. Think of all the good foods I can put in a salad! So I try to remember this little victory when I’m preparing something new for him.
Stock Your House With Quick & Healthy Snacks
Sometimes you just don’t have the time to prepare meals and snacks. Since you can’t eat what is not in your house, makes sure you stock up on some quick & healthy snacks. Scour the web (or Pinterest) for good snack ideas and make a list. Have these things in your house so when your child asks for a snack and you don’t have time to cook something, pull these out for them to eat. Here is a few things that I usually have on hand at my house. Actually I just photographed them from my kitchen. I buy many of them from Aldi’s and Trader Joes:
string cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, good cheese
nut butters (or peanut butter) and Larabars
apples, grapes, pineapple & bananas
pretzels, popcorn, pumpkin seeds
I love Aldi’s Gluten Free pretzels. As a matter of fact I have a slight addiction. Max likes them too but loves popcorn more. Usually we air pop it the microwave with a brown paper bag or make it my favorite way which is on the stove with coconut oil.
filtered water is our only option most days
Forget about soda and juice and just drink water. If you really miss soda, make your own with some mineral water and stevia drops. Or buy healthier options such as Zevia, Steaz or R. W. Knudsen Spritzers. But life is simpler, cheaper and healthier when you just drink water.
Other Quick Snack Ideas
Max doesn’t east as many veggies as fruit but he will always eat carrots. Also crackers and cheese are seomthing he loves. While it’s easy to find good cheese, it’s not so easy to find healthy crackers. (I make my own crackers but Max doesn’t love them…yet. I will try, try again.)
Things To Make If You Have A Few Minutes
If you have some time these are nice snacks to make or have on hand.
Blender Drinks: Smoothies are a great way to add nutrition without them knowing. For Max I just use frozen fruit, almond milk and go from there. Sometimes I add yogurt, greens, Great Lakes gelatin, chia seeds, flax seeds, or a combination. Smoothies are a great way to add the fruits and veggies that they are missing in their die. However, you can also buy super foods powder that contain loads of fruits and vegetables. I often have one of these on hand or Vitacost’s brand which is pretty good. As for the frozen fruit, I buy ripe bananas at the grocery store for pennies and take them home, peel and freeze. Frozen bananas add sweetness and texture to your smoothies and are perfect for blender ice cream. Other fruit that I buy comes frozen from Aldi’s or Costco.
I also make fruit slushies after school sometimes. All you do is add some fruit, water and ice. If more sweetness is needed I add honey or coconut sugar. Did you know you can buy coconut sugar at Target now? It’s really good and low glycemic so buy a bag next time you are there. It’s has a caramel-y, brown sugar type flavor.
Homemade Broth and Soup: Homemade bone broth is GREAT to have on hand. I make a big batch in my crockpot and freeze it in containers. When the containers run out I make another batch. Max loves my wedding soup (which you can find the recipe here) and will always eat some so I always make extra and freeze it.
It’s practically a meal in itself. In one bowl he’s getting protein (chicken and beef), veggies (carrots, celery, greens), starch from the pasta, and all that nourishing bone broth.
Frozen goodies: Have you ever made blender ice cream? It’s super easy. Just throw some frozen fruit (bananas are a must here) and almond milk in a blender and blend until you have a creamy soft serve ice cream. If you like it harder, just put it in the freezer for a little bit and it will be harder like ice cream. Again if you want more sweetness try some of the Torani syrups, honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar. My FIL loves this stuff!
I just started making my own regular yogurt and frozen yogurt. It was pretty darn good but I haven’t gotten Max to try it yet so I’ll keep you posted on a recipe for that. If you have an ice cream maker you can buy some good quality flavored yogurt from the store and put it in your ice cream maker for another ice cream like treat.
Some other frozen goodies we make are popsicles out of smoothies or fruit slushies, frozen grapes and yogurt drops. In the summer Max loves to eat frozen grapes. Also you can take a flavored yogurt and make yogurt drops by putting the yogurt in a baggy, cutting off the tip and using it like a pastry bag. Put little drops on a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet and freeze. Gather the dots when they are frozen and put them in a baggy to have on hand.
Trail Mix: This is a fun snack you can make with your kids. Actually is essential that you get their input because if they don’t like part of it they might not eat it. Chex cereals have quite a few gluten free options so I buy Rice Chex for this. You can add yogurt covered raisons, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, you name it. Just try to buy the best quality of ingredients you can. Aldi’s has a lot of different dried fruit now (bananas, blueberries, apricots) and some cool organic options too… all at a reasonable price.
Thoughts and Ideas for Meal Time
I aim to have protein, veggies and starch at every meal. So if I’m making a meal in which I know Max won’t eat the protein option (curry for instance), I give him some cottage cheese. He really likes cottage cheese and it’s full of protein. In the same way if there are veggies that I know he won’t eat (he still has to try it) I’ll cut up an apple for him. Now that he’s getting older, I rarely have a problem with the proteins at meals and he always loves the starches so I’m still working on those veggies.
Here are some last pointers about getting your kid to eat healthier foods:
- Make sure your child is hungry at dinner time. Don’t let them fill up on after school snacks so that they are not even that hungry at dinner time. They are more likely to enjoy healthy food if they are hungry.
- Only try one new food at a time and pair them with some of their favorites foods. If they are happy about the chicken and mashed potatoes you are serving, they will be more likely to try the spinach dish you made with it.
- Be a good role model and eat the food yourself. Social cues matter and kids are always looking to you for what is right and wrong. Same for healthy eating.
- Limit drinks such fruit juice and soda which will fill them up before a meal. Just serve water and drink it during your meal.
- Limit your snacks. Though I’ve offered you a number of snack ideas above, don’t offer too many snacks that they are not going to eat their main meal. Family meal time is all so important and even if you can’t do it everyday together, it’s hard to eat healthy if your kids have already filled up on healthy snacks. Family meal time should be a pleasant bonding experience.
So that is it for now. I gave you a few ideas of what I do with Max and I’m constantly trying new ideas so if you have any, please share!