March 2021 | Family Nutrition - Kids & Vegetables
by Desiree Lavin, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.
What’s for dinner tonight? You want to make something healthy for the family but it’s just so hard to mimic those beautiful Instagram photos of fresh organically grown produce that has been only slightly filtered. Frustration sets in. It all takes so much effort doesn’t it? Does dinner have to be difficult though? People often ask me about how I go about dinner with 3 kids and honestly, it’s different every night. We always try to get the kids involved in some part of the cooking process, letting them select their role. Our goal for our family nutrition is to make half of our plates consist of fruits and vegetables at every meal. That is not to say we do this for every meal, but it is our goal because I know that it will give us the most well rounded diet and access to a variety of nutrients.
I know, I know, your kids don’t love all of their vegetables and that’s okay. It takes dozens of tries for some kids to learn to enjoy specific foods, especially vegetables. Just keep serving them up in ways that may entice your youngster to try them and simply ask them to taste the meal that they have hopefully been somehow involved in preparing. It always helps if you add some calories to the vegetable since humans are inclined to enjoy having more calories than less. For example, a cream cheese spread could be used to dip radishes or carrots in. In time, the child will not need the additional calories, but will be able to eat the vegetables on their own.
A question that I get frequently ( darn you fancy social media food bloggers) is if produce needs to be fresh to be nutritious. Don’t get me wrong, I love fresh produce, but I also buy LOTS of frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen vegetables are packaged within five hours of harvest at their peak of ripeness, flavor and nutrient content. This means that their original vitamins and minerals are locked in. Studies document that canned and frozen foods provide as much and sometimes even more nutrition as fresh ones do. Just avoid vegetables with sauces already included. You can season them later yourself. Aside from that, they can be so easy! You can throw them in dishes here and there or create a tasty recipe on their own ( see below). Frozen food also generates 47% less food waste when compared to the fresh stuff, because you typically only prepare what you need.
A major complaint about produce that I hear, is that it is so expensive to by fresh organic produce and there are many reasons for that, but that’s for another time. You can buy the same organic produce frozen or canned for a fraction of the cost. With food prices constantly increasing, this is a big deal for our household.
The key points to remember for getting the kids to experience the wonderful and healthy world of vegetables are:
- Let them help with the selection and preparation
- Keep trying! It may take awhile
- Add some calories with those veggies
- Buy canned and frozen, just get them on your plate
Good luck and continue to thrive!
Recipe for Roasted Broccoli by Chef Rachel Gooding