Published on August 09, 2013

Kid Friendly Favorites

Health Source Magazine | August 2013

Food is important for a healthy and enjoyable life. Because of that, HealthSource introduced “Fresh Local Flavor” in 2010; it was a way for us to introduce you to local chefs who balance delicious food with healthy, fresh and often local ingredients.

This month we welcome “What’s On Our Plate?” as a new HealthSource department. The purpose of this department will largely be the same; we will bring you delicious and healthy food ideas from local experts and chefs. Each month we will try to pair our food suggestions with HealthSource’s monthly theme. We value your input and suggestions as we shift gears slightly on this favorite culinary department.

Fresh Local Flavor has been moved to First Coast Magazine, due to launch in the fall. There you can expect richer stories centered on the food of the First Coast. We believe that “Fresh Local Flavor” will continue to help further the concept that the local and sustainable sourcing of our food is best for our heart, soul and community.

This month’s section tackles kid-friendly favorites just in time for back-to-school.

For years, parents have offered their kids macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, French fries and grilled cheese sandwiches. While these traditionally kid-friendly favorites might be quick and easy for moms and dads to prepare, they could be putting children at risk for a variety of serious medical problems. However, with just a little extra effort and planning, you can offer your children healthier versions of their favorite meals.

“Healthier versions of kid-friendly favorites can still provide the same satisfaction and taste as unhealthy options while providing more nutrients and less empty calories,” said Amy Galena, clinical dietician with Wolfson Children’s Hospital / Baptist Health. “It is important to establish healthy habits in childhood so as kids grow they maintain healthy habits into adulthood.”

According to Beverly Sessums, clinical nutrition manager at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside, teaching your child to make healthier food choices reduces their chances of obesity, type 2 diabetes and its complications that can include heart disease and high blood pressure. Sessums stresses that healthy eating can lead to a better quality of life for both children and adults, but warns that because healthier recipes are lower in fat, higher in soluble and insoluble fiber and higher in protein, lignans, essential fatty acids and beta carotene, some children may be reluctant to try healthier versions of their favorite foods.

Sessums tells parents to remember that all children go through a “picky” stage and encourages parents to remain patient and avoid panicking or force-feeding. She suggests using bright colors and different shapes to make healthy food more appetizing (try using a cookie cutter to create creative food in circles, squares or diamonds). Galena also recommends making small changes that are nearly impossible to detect such as hiding some spinach in a fruit smoothie, opting for mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes, putting carrots and other vegetables into marinara sauce or adding chickpeas or oatmeal to cookies.

“Encourage your children to try new foods regularly. As kids grow, their tastes and preferences change, so they may like a certain food that they previously didn't as they age,” said Galena. “Studies show it takes 10 tries for a child to learn to like a new food, so even if your child is resistant, don't give up. Continue to try to present other healthy foods as options for your child.”

While both Galena and Sessums encourage families to only offer children high-fat, high-sugar or highcaloric foods and beverages in moderation, Galena says that complete restriction can backfire. “If your kids are never allowed to have sweets, they may want them even more,” says Galena. “It is also vital to avoid using sweets as a reward for good eating or good behavior. That can lead to bad eating habits later in life.”

Galena and Sessums remind us that small dietary changes can make a big impact. Simple changes such as switching from white bread or pasta to whole grain or swapping whole milk for skim milk can have tremendous benefits on your children’s diet and future nutritional habits. There’s no time like the present to start developing a healthier lifestyle for your family for many happy and healthy years to come.

View recipes and the rest of the article.

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