We all know how vegetables play an important role in living a healthy life. Vegetables and fruits both are filled with essential nutrients which keep our bodies nourished and help in growth and development. Now the big question comes, when we ask ourselves how can we have our kids eat enough of them. Making kids eat vegetables, is not an easy job and if your kids do eat them, then I am pretty sure you are on cloud 9. For the rest of us parents, there is an easy way which is called Smoothies! Now I know that for your little ones, the call for avocados or carrot smoothies will not get them on their toes to the kitchen, but along with the mixture of some cool and colorful fruits, a vegetable smoothie can become a fun part of your kid’s meal.
Here are these two amazing veggie smoothie recipes which your kids will love!
Carrot Orange Smoothie
1 cup peeled, chopped carrots
1 orange, peeled and chopped
1 frozen banana, chopped
1 cup ice
1 cup orange juice
Layer the ice, banana chunks, orange segments, and carrots in the blender, add the orange juice, and blend until smooth.
Strawberries and Cream Smoothie
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup fresh or frozen mix berries
1 cup almond milk or any non-dairy beverage.
1 cup orange juice
¼ cup fresh baby spinach
Directions: Layer all the ingredients, and blend until it has a creamy smooth texture.
Author: Zakia Akber, BSc Food and Nutrition.
So what if I offer certain foods but my child still doesn’t eat it?
The concern here now is mainly if my child is getting all the nourishment that he/she needs. I went through the same thoughts and feelings as any parent would.
First, I like to take note and look back at what my child ate or has been eating. If I see gaps in certain food groups, I know that may be of concern. When the child does not eat a variety of foods over the span of a week that may be a red flag for me. Food jags are common however for children and if the child is stuck with one food that is ok! It will pass.
The American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend a vitamin and mineral supplement if the child has poor eating habits, following a fad diet, or is undernourished. According to the Vitamin Supplement Journal, certain vitamins such as calcium, folate, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C and zinc were found to be deficient in certain percentages of American children.
Here is a list of foods that have a high source of the specific vitamin:
There are others worth mentioning such as fluoride for tooth formation and water should be of adequate amount in the child’s diet. This list does not mention other important vitamin and minerals, so remember it is a good idea to refer to the basic food groups for proper nourishment.
A multivitamin may be beneficial due to a busy life but keep in mind natural food provides more fiber (better for gut health) and phytonutrients to help fight free radicals and inflammation.
When I do pick out vitamins for a client, I consider their age, gender, illness if any, and their preferences as well. In the huge market of nutrition supplements, what do you buy!?? What is a good quality product? I would choose the highly recommended, quality products for my clients. Below is a good link to a review to some supplements out there.
1/4 - 1/3 cup mashed and previously cooked butternut squash
2 T brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour (I use ½ cup whole wheat and ½ cup white flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Beat cooked mashed squash with brown sugar, milk and egg until smooth
In separate bowl, stir sifted flour, baking powder and salt.
Stir dry ingredients into squash mixture.
Heat pan with cooking spray and drop in batter one spoon at a time.
When bubbling on top and golden brown on bottom flip them and cook.
Serve with maple syrup.
If you have leftover cooked squash, you can freeze it and label for the next time you make these pancakes! Get your kids to do the stirring or break an egg!
They love the process!
This recipe was one of the assignments I had during one of my rotations at a skilled nursing facility. I was assigned a food demonstration and that month the vegetable spotlighted was squash as it was Fall. I picked butternut squash because I found it on sale at the local stores. I tried out a few recipes by scrolling through the Internet. I had fallen in love with the butternut squash recipe for pancakes. I still use that recipe today and have tweaked it a bit for the measurements and my kids love to eat it. It also helps to know they are getting in their Vitamin A from the squash in the mornings too! In addition, squashes are considered nutritional goldmines!
How to cut Butternut Squash?
Cut in half, peel and chop.
This webpage has good pics!
How to cook it now its all cut?
I like to just steam the diced squash on the stovetop (15 to 20 minutes) or microwave it (around 10 minutes) for pancakes. I don’t recommend boiling.
So I was all happy and excited that the school lunch program under the USDA law required healthier lunches, but now that I see the reality of it at my daughter’s school, I’m not so happy.
It’s great, that my daughter sees two vegetables, a fruit , a carbohydrate, protein and milk on her trays but she has started to tell me that she wants lunch from home just because it doesn’t taste good. I was joining her for lunch with my 1 year old for the majority of the time and I tasted the food on her lunch trays. How can our kids enjoy the food if it isn’t cooked correctly or not appetizing in certain ways? For example, take the green beans. I tasted it and honestly it really didn’t have any taste! It was soggy, which is understandable considering the possibility that the managers chose this type of cooking method to cater to the elementary school kids who are losing teeth. Next, consider the main entrée which is the pizza. It’s too hot for her to bite into, so she waits and tries the other foods on her plate. She then takes two more bites of the pizza and stops. I taste it to see why she has stopped and I see it is not very appetizing. Also now time is up.
I also went through the tray line with my daughter, and I noticed that the food service workers seemed quite tired, disgruntled and rather unapproachable. When my daughter reached out to pick her fruit, her favorite fruit banana was taken up by the child in front of her. She asked for a banana, but the food service worker said nothing and merely pointed to the fruits that were left. Knowing that my child is very picky about her foods due to her sensory issues, my heart was saddened but I did encourage her to take what was there even though I knew she wouldn’t eat it.
When I got back home that day I recalled my college years when I worked in the food service industry. I recall working 8 hour shifts and feeling tired by the end of the day. I remember thinking “I wish I was paid more for the amount of work that goes into this job.” Then I remember telling myself what an easy job it is. My coworkers would chant “mucho travajo poquito dinero!” meaning “lots of work and little money!” Haha so true!
So I began to think , if the USDA has made such positive changes to change the food trays and to make them healthier, what if they could also increase the wages of the food service workers in the industry? Wouldn’t that make a difference? Wouldn’t training at all levels make a difference aswell? I definitely think it would. A person would be happier at their job and probably pay more attention to how the food that is served to all the children is cooked. Paying attention to the small details in food such as temperature, display, size, color makes a big difference in it being appealing to a human being. I do see the school’s food service manager always having a smile on her face and encouraging the kids to try the “harvest of the month.” I’m sure this is one of the school’s nutrition/healthy eating initiatives, which is great as I see a harvest of the month newsletter sent home as well.
To add to my thoughts, when I did my internship at the Head Start program in Chicago, I really enjoyed my time there as I saw the recommendations for schools turns into reality in the classrooms and at lunch time. For example, according to consistent research, family meals were encouraged in food settings. I saw that the director had decided to implement this recommendation in her school. It was great to see the food service worker “the cook” take the meals in big bowls on a tray to each classroom, the teachers would offer a spoon from each bowl to the students, and they would accept it into their plates. That was considered the family style approach to eating. The teachers were also encouraged to eat the meals with the children in the classrooms. Another recommendation that was implemented was the teeth brushing. However, that did not do so well. The teachers had already implemented the handwashing prior to and after meal time, but to add tooth brushing after mealtime seemed to take much longer for the children to do. The teachers complained how this new job duty was not helping and was only making it harder for the 2-year-old classroom kids to fall asleep during nap time.
This reminds me that maybe all the recommendations that come from scientific research cannot be successfully implemented in society or real lives. It would take trial and error to see what works.
So back to the lunch trays. I wish the foods were more appetizing! I wish they were served at the right temperature! I wish the school lunchtime was longer! I wish the little ones had just a little more time as a lot of time goes into standing in the tray line, opening up the bottles, utensils and so forth.
I know I’m not the only one who thinks along these lines! An additional link on this topic:
Here are a list of snacks that my kids eat:
Its good to try and think of snacks as mini-meals that provide some protein or fat with the starch to keep the little tummies full.
Keep in mind of certain foods being choking hazards for ages 1 to 4 and always watch your child during meal or snack time.
Here is an additional link to some more healthy snacks!
*Remember to watch your child at all times while they are eating and to keep in mind the foods that may cause choking in babies and toddlers.