Even though my kids are now grown and experimenting in their own kitchens, I fondly remember the days of getting my three boys engaged in creating recipes together. From very early ages, I welcomed the company of my kids on food shopping trips, including getting them involved in choosing what veggies were on the menu for dinner. My hubby and I always set an example when we set the table, since after all, there is no better way to teach your kids how to take care of themselves than to show them how easy it is to create and enjoy delicious and nutritious meals.
Parents play a powerful role in teaching their kids to have a healthy relationship with food and to take care of their bodies. In fact, some parents don’t realize just how much their children model their behaviors each day. If a parent turns up his or her nose at a plate of vegetables, there’s a good chance the children are not going to be eager to try them either.
Time spent shopping for and preparing meals is the perfect opportunity for teachable moments to share thoughts about food, health and each other. Plus, children who are involved in meal preparation are more likely to try a wider variety of foods, including vegetables. You can turn your kitchen into a playful environment instead of a battleground by making mealtime fun and by getting your kids engaged way before the food gets to their plates.
Here are some tips for making meal time a gratifying experience for the whole family:
- Share the eating experience right from the start: take your kids food shopping and let them help you make healthy choices. Give your children a choice of which vegetable they would like to eat with dinner.
- Make food shopping fun! Play a game with your kids: can they identify round foods, green foods, leafy foods, etc.?
- Get your kids involved in the kitchen from as young as three years old. Let them stir pancake batter, rip lettuce leaves, spin spinach in a salad spinner, or count ingredients, and expand upon their responsibilities as they grow older.
- Let your kids taste the food they are helping create. How do they describe the flavor, texture and color? Salad blends can make some of the unusual greens more welcoming.
- Have a DIY night. Kids love making their own pizza, assembling their own salad from a “salad bar,” or creating their own tacos.
- Create your own taste test lab! If you make a game out of trying new foods, kids will be much more open to an unfamiliar food or flavor. Use a blindfold to enhance the experience, and parents…you need to participate, too!
In our home, salad appeared at most meals and could be analogized to the foundation of a house; it’s the base upon which you build. With Eat Smart Salad Blends you’re provided with a medley of veggies upon which your kids can add some of their favorite ingredients, like dried or fresh fruit or nuts. Eat Smart Salad Kits offer a variety of veggies and flavors all in one package. Introducing new veggies along with familiar ones will increase the likelihood that your kids will try them!