BOOK JOAN

Simple Ways to Get Your Child to Eat Healthy

Growing up healthy

Growing Up Healthy

Children's Health / / November 23, 2008

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Take them grocery shopping with you.

Teach them about bright colored fruits and vegetables - those are the ones that are the best for you! They guard against cancer, obesity and heart disease.

Depending on their age, your children can help out in kitchen and getting them involved often promotes better eating habits. Little guys can help assemble a fresh fruit salad and children enjoy this and tend to eat the fruit when they have been involved. Include the fruits your family likes but keep introducing new ones. As your children grow older they can start to mix ingredients together, help stirring pots and eventually they can help chop.

Make them aware of the difference between whole grain bread and white bread, and explain that whole grains are filled with nutrients and fiber that make them healthy and strong. Seeing you buy and eat healthy foods will have the biggest impact on their adult eating habits. Let them see you choose to cook brown rice rather than white rice. This is your chance to teach them that they need to eat 2-3 servings of whole grains each day. Only 12% of Americans eat 2-3 servings.

But take out is so much easier! How can I make healthy versions of my family favorites? It's really not that hard to cook fast healthy meals. But there is a perception that cooking healthy foods like brown rice is harder or takes longer. And it's true that it used to take one hour to cook brown rice! However Uncle Bens thankfully has solved that one for us. You can now get Fast and Natural Brown Rice that cooks in only ten minutes, which is the same amount of time it takes to cook white rice. So it is no longer a valid excuse that it "takes too long to cook the healthy stuff". Now you can cook a chicken and brown rice stir fry in less than 10 minutes, and that's faster than the delivery. Here is an easy recipe that will please everyone.

My Quick Southwest Chicken and Brown Rice Stir Fry

This is a Southwest version of chicken and rice which most children like. In a wok or large frying pan simply add a little chili powder to some canola oil. As it begins to cook, throw in some frozen sweet corn, some sliced red bell peppers, and some shredded rotisserie chicken. Then you can add your quick cook brown rice. There are even microwaveable packets which only take 90 seconds! And that's it.

Want Chinese? Just add broccoli or asparagus and onions/celery/mushrooms; then add a little soy sauce with your brown rice.

Want Indian? Just add a little curry powder, steamed cauliflower and carrots.

Want a Thai inspired dish? Just add peanut sauce, shredded carrots & bean sprouts.

Want a tropical version? Just add pineapple and scallions.

Brown Rice with Butternut Squash, Prosciutto and Sage.

I think your family will love the taste of this combo. Get the quick cook brown rice that takes only 10 minutes and cook it with some chicken broth. In a skillet cook some diced butternut squash till its soft, and push it to the side and add 2 ounces of prosciutto and sage to the other. Sauté that and then stir in the brown rice. Add a little salt and pepper and you're ready to serve. You can add chicken, pork or veal to this recipe and it's a one-dish meal.

How can I teach my kids to eat healthy?

You can't control what they eat everywhere else, but in your home--YOU are in control. You are solely responsible for the eating habits of your kids. My little twins get fruit at every single meal, and I make sure that they get lots of veggies and they are going to grow up loving fruits and veggies. Same goes for whole grains, my children will grow up expecting to eat whole grain bread and dishes with brown rice, and they will understand that they need 2-3 serving a day.

What to keep around for quick snacks.

Keep your cabinets and fridge stocked with bite-size, ready-to-eat nutritious foods and treats, healthier options. Give them a snack of apple and cheese instead of Twinkies and ding dongs. You're not trying to win the popularity contest, you are trying to give them a healthy start and teach them healthy habits. Giving them snacks and meals high in fats and sugar and loaded with calories isn't doing them any favor.

A lot of people forget that fruit is a great choice for dessert. And before you say, "oh come on", here's a peach crisp recipe that your kids will love (or you can make this with apples, plums or berries).

Just mix together ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup flour, ½ cup oatmeal, and 1½ tsp cinnamon in a bowl. Blend in ½ stick of softened butter and sprinkle that mixture over 3 cups of sliced fruit (fresh, frozen, or canned) in a 10x6 or 8x8 baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.

For more play time with your kids, consider doubling or tripling the crisp mixture and refrigerating it in a glass container. The next time you want to make a crisp, all you have to do is prepare the fruit!

About The Author
Growing up healthy
In Growing Up Healthy, Joan Lunden, one of America's most trusted journalists and most visible working moms, teams up with Dr. Myron Winick, a leading expert in childhood nutrition, to produce a guide that contains the lifesaving knowledge we all need to shield our children from disease and help them grow into strong, fit adults.
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