KRUG: Children and vegetables
Summer is almost here and that means the kids will be eating more meals and snacks at home. Keeping up those healthy meals and snacks during the summer can be easy with a little planning. Following the MyPlate food guide system for healthy eating reminds us that half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. A generous serving of whole grains and a small serving of lean protein, as well as a choice of foods rich in calcium, complete the healthy plate.
When my kids were growing up and now when we spend time with our grandchildren, it makes me smile when I see their eagerness to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. I often hear moms say their kids hate vegetables. My response is, “Do your kids really hate vegetables or have you given them the chance to love them?” In Dr. Antonia Demas’ program, Food is Elementary, students are allowed to smell food first, then slowly taste new whole foods. When children are involved in the selection and preparation of vegetables, they are more likely to eat them. Try to prepare vegetables in a variety of ways, from raw, to lightly steamed, to stir-fries. Children follow the lead of adults, so make sure they see you enjoying your vegetables too.
The task of eating more fresh vegetables and fruits is easier when you keep a good amount of choices on hand. Soon our farmers markets will be open with a large selection of locally grown produce. The late cold has delayed the planting of many gardens, but I hope now that it has warmed up you are still thinking about planting something. Research shows that when children learn about vegetables and fruits by growing them, they are more likely to eat them.
Now that school is drawing to a close, take the time to sit down with your children and involve them in meal planning. Make a market with them to try a new vegetable every week in the summer and you will increase their healthy plate. As children get older, you can suggest age-appropriate tasks related to preparing and serving meals. Giving children a choice of what is served gives them a sense of belonging. If a new food is not liked the first time it is offered, wait a few weeks and try again with the food prepared in a different way.
If anyone reading this wants some food ideas to prepare with the kids, I hope you will take a few minutes to check out the following website: https://www.myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen There are many ‘great recipes suitable for children. , many of which can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. There is an option on the website to save your favorite recipes and create a cookbook that is saved to a file or printed.
Have fun in the summer in the kitchen!
Donna Krug is District Director and Family and Consumer Sciences Officer at K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. You can reach her at: 793-1910 or [email protected]