Meijer nutritionist offers tips for creating better-for-you food that will appeal to tots and teens.
During the holidays, with sweet treats in abundance, one of the big challenges is steering your kids to healthy options. Beth Eggleston, MS, RDN, a Meijer Nutrition Education Specialist and mom, has some practical tips.
Begin by getting kids involved. Let them search out recipes they’d like to eat, and let them help gather the ingredients during a trip to the grocery store. “They are more likely to want to eat the food if they had a hand in making it,” Eggleston said.
A good source for healthy dish ideas is Meijer’s True Goodness website, where you can find recipes for Citrus-Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Protein Boxes, and Pineapple Banana Sorbet. Many recipes are gluten-free.
Another option is Pinterest, under healthy holiday recipes. While there is a big selection, take these ideas with a grain of salt because anybody can label a recipe a healthy holiday recipe, Eggleston said.
Some of her favorite healthy food ideas that are geared toward kids include:
The Grinch fruit kebab. Take a toothpick, add a green grape, a slice of banana, a strawberry and a mini marshmallow. The result will resemble the Christmas curmudgeon.
Turn fruit and veggie platters into festive decorations. For example, create a broccoli Christmas tree with grape tomatoes as ornaments.
In place of soda, set up a beverage station where kids can mix sparkling water with juices and add fruit, like cranberries, or a rosemary sprig for a little pizzazz. The results are pretty and low in calories.
When kids are creating the food, they are more likely to eat the results. Taking them shopping is a great way to explore the produce department — and discover fruits and vegetables they don’t know about it.
Take advantage of the root vegetables in season in November. Slice them thin and then roast them with a drizzle of olive oil to create vegetable chips. They’ll caramelize in the oven, coming out sweet and tasty.
Savor the holiday. Turn those sweet oranges and clementines into a colorful fruit salad.
Spaghetti squash is another fun one because kids can help get the squash strands out. This vegetable can be a healthier stand-in for pasta. Just add sauce along with cheese and/or meatballs.
You can also teach your kids some tips for creating healthier holiday treats by making some simple substitutions, such as using applesauce to cut the cooking oil by half, Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and whole wheat flour instead of white flour.
And to avoid the holiday hangry meltdowns, keep a stash of snacks — such as air-popped popcorn, string cheese, fruit leathers, clementines, Cliff Kid Zbar or trail mix — handy at home and on the go.
As the mother of a 2-year-old, working in the nutrition field for a decade, Eggleston is also a realist. “The holidays are a special time of year so I'm not saying don't give your kids cookies but try to offer those healthy foods first,” she said.
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