Would you like your kids to have fun in the kitchen while learning to make nutritious foods for themselves? The ideal way for children to learn about good nutrition is if they become our little kitchen helpers starting from the time they can hold a plastic spoon. Youngsters learn to like veggies when they can grasp and gnaw on a carrot stick, pick up peas or corn niblets with tiny fingers and watch a tomato plant bear fruit on a balcony. As they get older, children can help to prepare one or more favourite meals each week and eventually take an occasional turn as the main chef. It helps to set up a cheery atmosphere with music, with tasting allowed.
For some youngsters, it’s an eye opener to learn that soup doesn’t just come from a can and pizza doesn’t always come in a box. In fact, pizzas don’t need to be grease-laden; they can be a healthy way to pack lots of veggies into family menus. If children aren’t fond of homemade soups or cooked vegetables, they may become more ‘vegetable friendly’ when they assist with preparation and perhaps help choose the recipe or ingredients. To start, they can wash the carrots. When they are older and can handle knives safely, they may assist with chopping. We’ll likely find that half the carrot coins are eaten long before the soup starts cooking.
It is well known that most people live on six to 10 favourite meals, repeated over and over. It can help to introduce your kids to a few recipes that are health supportive that they will also love. And it can help reduce mom or dad’s stress of feeling like a short order cook. Tacos, falafels and spaghetti are favourites that work for families, including non-vegetarian, vegetarian and vegan eaters.
Vesanto Melina is a dietitian and co-author of nutrition classics Cooking Vegan, Cooking Vegetarian, Becoming Vegetarian, Becoming Vegan, Becoming Raw, Raising Vegetarian Children, the Food Allergy Survival Guide and the Raw Food Revolution Diet. For personal consultations, phone 604-882-6782 or visit www.nutrispeak.com
Fudgesicles: a cool, healthy treat
Cool off in hot weather with this recipe for Fudgesicles, which, believe it or not, are also a source of protein. Popsicle molds are available from dollar stores.
(And don’t worry about soy–it is a health food and intake in childhood is linked with prevention of the hormone related cancers later in life. The scare stories, widely disseminated by competing industries, originated from 2 men who unwisely lived mainly on soy–12 to 20 servings a day.)
Makes 6 popsicles (depending on size of mold)
- 2/3 cup fortified chocolate soymilk
- 8 oz (1 cup) firm silken tofu
- 2 tbsp cocoa or carob powder
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Place all ingredients in a blender and puree for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze until solid. Popsicles take about 4 hours to freeze, however, the exact time will depend on your freezer temperature. Each can be removed from its mold by running warm water over the outside of the mold, by dipping it in warm water or by squeezing it in your hand for a few minutes.
Per Fudgsicle: calories: 86; protein: 4 g; carbohydrate: 15 g; fat: 2 g.