These are my thoughts on a balanced approach to healthy food for kids. It isn’t always easy to make sure we’re doing things well, but not get too letter of the law so this is where I like to get into big picture thinking. This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Florida Department of Citrus. All opinions are 100% mine.
Eating healthy seems like a simple thing. You know the good foods, you know the bad foods, and it should be no drama to have a healthy meal at the table each evening. One where everyone sits down, thanks the cook, and snarfs down their entire plate. Vegetables first!
Reality is a bit… different. Some kids will refuse green things. Others hate any texture except mac and cheese, and before you know it the kids are living on a diet of unhealthy fake food. Not because you think it’s best, but because mealtime preparation and healthy eating just got away from you.
Here are my thoughts on how you can bring a healthy and sustainable diet into your home with kids. Even the small ones.
1. Start your year and your day off right
Great habits will benefit you throughout the months and years. Now is a great time to get into good habits for both you and your children. If your kids prefer grain based breakfasts like mine (cereal, grits, toast, etc.) then offering 100% Florida Orange Juice is a one stop way to help both your kids and you up your daily servings of fruits. Most people don’t get the necessary servings of fruits and vegetables so drinking no sugar added juice throughout the day is a good way to add it in without a fight.
2. 80/20 rule
Lots of real food and health food bloggers say their family aims for 80/20. 80% real and healthy foods and 20% other. I think this is a doable goal that sets you up for success instead of setting yourself up to fail. If you personally never bring anything unhealthy into the house then this will be easy. However, if you are like most and have a good mix of health, not healthy, real foods, and convenient processed foods then you’ll have to make an effort.
I love cooking from scratch. Now, I’m not saying I’m a great cook, just that I love doing it from scratch. It’s cheaper, more healthy, and doesn’t leave you feeling blagh. Aiming for mostly healthy meals and snacks throughout the week gives you a far greater chance of maintaining the balanced diet for the long run.
3. Offer it in various forms
You don’t just have to throw blanched broccoli on a plate and call it dinner. You have license to get creative and I guarantee your children will ingest far more vegetables (particularly when they’re little) if you do so. I love giving orange juice (we’re in Florida and drink 100% Florida Orange Juice) for breakfast with their grits or cereal. You can also put juice into a popsicle container like this and freeze it for healthy popsicles with no added sugar.
Melt some cheese over cauliflower. Put shredded carrot in your pasta sauce. Add spinach to your mashed potatoes. Fill your crockpot meals, one pot meals, and casseroles with diced vegetables of all sorts. I love making frittata that is chock full of vegetables too. This helps get your children (even picky eaters) used to eating vegetables. I like to serve vegetables by themselves also, but on the off chance they get finnicky, I always try to have vegetables stashed elsewhere as well ;)
4. Offer it anyway
There’s a good chance your kids will reject some vegetables. They are, after all, children. This can be extremely annoying and frustrating if you let it get to you so I’d suggest a calmer approach. An approach that says, “We eat vegetables in this house so get on the train!” but not one that says, “If you don’t get on the train you’ll sit at the station – a.k.a. the table – all night until you do.“
If they reject a vegetable you can institute a “one bite” rule or something similar. At any rate, keep offering them. I always offer fruits for a snack along with a cracker and some peanut butter or something similar. For lunch we may have a sandwich or wrap, but always fruit! And I try to rotate which fruit I offer as well so they are used to seeing and trying new things.
5. Get them involved
If the kids are involved in the meal planning and cooking they are far more likely to eat what’s on the table. Grocery shopping, mixing, stirring, etc. and plating the food is a good way to teach life skills along with fostering a healthy diet in your home.
This spring we’re going to plant a garden. I’m going to use empty cow feed troughs that are big (very very big) and we’re going to plan all kinds of plants and plant them together. I will have the kids with me through the process and hope that it’s a fun thing. By sowing and harvesting your own food kids will have a better sense that things don’t just come from the “store.”
Oranges + Orange Juice
Drinking 100% Florida Orange Juice (no sugar added) is a great way to add some nutrition and good eating habits into your family’s routine. If you start your day off right it’s often easier to follow through, and nutrient rich drinks are a great way to get valuable vitamins into the kiddos.
Check out the Florida Orange’s Amazing 5!
- Great Taste: it’s sweet, refreshing, light, and is an awesome and tasty alternative to sweet drinks full of sugar
- Vitamin C: it’s an excellent source of Vitamin C which promotes strong bones, gums, and cartilage. Oh, and Vitamin C helps you retain information too :)
- No added sugar: the Florida oranges taste so good they didn’t even have to add sugar. Believe it!
- Folate: it’s a great source of folate (so drink drink drink up if you’re pregnant) which contributes to healthy cell division and red blood cells.
- Potassium: this vitamin is important for muscle function, nerve transmission, and it helps maintain the body’s balance of fluid, pH, and electrolytes.
Basically, it’s a super juice! So after you’ve gone out and bought your 100% Florida Orange Juice, here are some great recipes you can make that incorporate it!
Recipes with Oranges or Orange Juice
Kid Activities with Oranges
3. Making orange faces