Thank you to Strong4Life and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
You’ve read about the time I starved out Red, and you know how well he eats his school lunch. You’ve heard about my easy eater, Scarlett, scarfing real food from birth and getting a better start than her brother. But what you may not remember was Red was very sick with constant ear infections before age three. In his pain, I made a snap decision when he ill to give him whatever made him comfortable. It destroyed his ability to try new foods and choked his appetite for fresh veggies and fruit. I thought I was doomed until I had pediatrician approval to MAKE him choose better options. Now that he’s in grade school and has a healthier eating companion (Scarlett), we’re doing much better! I’m slowly starting to go green, choose organic and make healthier food swaps!
In order to get into a better rut, I met up with Cheryl Williams, a registered dietitian nutritionist, for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life. Cheryl was my guide during a shopping trip at Kroger, where we focused on lunches and healthy food swaps. My goal was to find quick recipes that would stick with my kids for lunch and filling power snacks for after school. I related all the quirks and habits of my kids to her so she could get a bead on our eating habits and what we could improve.
In fact, there’s a lot we can improve as a community. I learned that specifically in Atlanta, parents with children below the age of 2 struggle most with food parenting because 55% of them are rewarding their children with food, which can create an unhealthy relationship with food. Another enormous 77% of parents are forcing their children to clean their plates, even after they say they’re full. I know I had been guilty of that in the past, but now we insist that Red and Scarlett only eat one bite of everything… often Red will test us if he doesn’t want to try a food. Another reason I do this? I refuse to be a short order cook. What’s for dinner is what’s for dinner, unless I’m preparing a strange paleo sushi something that I know is not up our kid’s alleys. In that case, I will make planned exceptions.
Red and I learned the hard way that eating habits are formed by age three and can follow them forever. Cherly helped me to make some healthy food swaps that were better for my kids (avoiding fruit concentrates and additives) and our family. I left the store with plenty of new snack choices and a few recipes that both my kids would enjoy!
Since my kids tend to get really hungry when they come home from school, filling them up without weighing them down was a concern I brought to Cheryl. It’s easy to feed them packaged items that don’t fill them up until dinner! She recommended that I include at least 3 food groups and suggested simple snack shortcuts and a high energy power snack like a cup of Cheese, Triscuits, and Strawberries.
Kid Friendly Casseroles
When dinnertime rolls around, I don’t want to fight. I have so much going on like blog work to extended family, volunteer newsletters, the Disney Parks Moms Panel and more. I want to be able to whip up a dinner, eat it and start our bedtime routine on time. It’s the only way our next morning can be successful! Hearty and healthy menu items like Chicken, quinoa and broccoli casserole and a lean Turkey lasagna are on rotation. It’s easy for the kids to get into them and leftovers make a warm winter lunch for the next day.
Since everything has it’s own month or day in our time, October is the occasion to celebrate pizza! It’s a food that my picky eater will eat all day long until he turns into a slice himself. Scarlett will also delve into the Italian dish, as long as I cut it up for her. Cheryl wisely suggested that I have Red assist me in the kitchen, making mini pizzas and allowing him to choose veggies as toppings. Kids often have great ownership of foods they have made, so would Red buy into this? I thought we should try!
Using Cheryl’s homemade pizza tips, I lugged out all our healthy food swaps and called Red into the kitchen to start. I had him pat out the dough, spread the sauce, and scatter the cheese.
The moment I asked him to choose veggies as a topping, he gave me an unsure look. But I said he should choose at least one of our healthy options for his pizza (Mushrooms, olives, broccoli). He quickly chose broccoli, since it’s his favorite green veg, and gingerly placed some pieces on both his pizza and his sister’s.
I placed it in our oven and Red patiently watched his favorite dish bake. But would he eat the broccoli ON TOP of the pizza? He’s a visual eater, and though he will TRY a food easily during a meal, getting him to admit that it’s good can be tougher. As you can see below, we have a satisfied customer with our healthy food swaps. I added homemade marinara sauce as a dipper, which made the unusual (to Red) toppings go down a little easier.
As for Scarlett, she scarfed all the veggies, including mushrooms down like it was plain ol’ cheese pizza. So easy, so yummy. She’s my easy to please tiny diner.
Now it’s your turn to enter to win $50 to Kroger from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Strong4Life. Simply use the Rafflecopter below, and leave me a comment about your favorite healthy food swaps or recipes for kids.