Sometimes, trying to slip a larger amount of healthy foods into kids’ diets can feel like all-out war. But involving them in the kitchen can be an easy way to get them excited about eating their 5-a-day and even introduce them to some new ingredients and flavours.
This article will take a look at some simple ideas any family can try: from going fruit picking to experimenting with specially-designed recipes for kids.
Discovering where food comes from
Make healthy food exciting by going on an expedition to discover where it comes from together. One entertaining option to try is to go fruit picking. It’s an incredibly fun experience for everyone, and you can challenge each other to have the fullest basket at the end of the session – although you might find yourself eating a fair amount as you go!
Another effective way to get kids invested and interested in healthy eating habits is to visit a farmer’s market together. There you can meet and learn from producers, and try samples to work out what you all like. Touching, smelling, tasting the food – it’s a sensory adventure! Asking the stallholders how they would cook their own produce can also be hugely enlightening, and introduce you to new ways of cooking. Take a look online and you’ll find farmer’s markets happening all over the country, from Shoreditch in London to Stockbridge in Edinburgh.
Including kids in day-to-day meal prep can make them more invested in meals. Letting them choose which types of healthy ingredients to add also means they’re much more likely to eat the finished product! Before your shop, ask them what type of vegetable they’d like with dinner – peas, carrots, spinach, or a mixture. One is likely to appeal.
Though it can be a little messy, teaching kids basic cookery and baking skills can set them up for life. And it’s tonnes of fun. You’ll find plenty of recipes for kids like rainbow pancakes that are designed to appeal specifically to them. This colourful breakfast option is visually exciting, and will set them up for the rest of the day. You can let them choose what spices, dried fruit or nuts they’d like to include, as well as what fruit they’d like to have on top. Other interactive recipes for kids anyone can try include pitta pockets they can fill themselves or mini-pizzas topped with veggies.
Set the bar
As a role model, healthy eating starts with you. If your kids see that you’re enjoying your healthy choices, they’re more likely to try them. Talk about why you make the choices you do openly, helping them understand why healthy eating makes sense. Throw in information they can understand, like the fact that carrots and squash could improve their eyesight, or milk and bananas could help strengthen bones (potassium-rich foods like bananas may play an often overlooked but very important role in bone health).
While you’re discussing healthy eating habits, try to avoid putting pressure on kids as it can backfire and end up making them more resistant. Studies suggest that it takes them up to 15 times to adjust to a new food, so being patient can pay off in the long run.