Welcome back! If you are Hungry for a Fresh Start in the New Year you're in the right place.
This is the time for new beginnings! With the arrival of the New Year and spring feeling just around the corner, this is the perfect time to act on goals and intentions and to set a solid foundation for our health.
Today let’s take advantage of this clean slate to make a fresh start - Let's Get Inclusive!
I'm excited to share the many ways our family benefits when we include everyone in the shopping, meal planning and prep – spouses, partners AND kids. I've even added some great tips to get started today! Ready to Get Inclusive?
As a working, single Mom, I know all too well, that sometimes it may seem easier, simpler and less hassle to just do it all ourselves...but when we find creative, quick ways to include everyone our spouses, partners AND kids we empower everyone with age appropriate tasks and we share a sense of ownership and pride around OUR food.
Believe it or not, we can encourage even the pickiest eaters to try something adventurous by recruiting their help with everything from finding new recipes online to grocery shopping, washing vegetables, peeling and selecting ingredients.
Involving our family in our food choices both in and out of the kitchen is a BIG stepping-stone to getting them to appreciate family meals. With the challenges of coordinating work, school, and sports schedules, many families struggle to sit down to even one daily meal together. Take the pressure off during the work week - Start by maximizing weekend opportunities to eat together.
One good place to start is the first meal of the day: breakfast. Did you know that evidence suggests that eating breakfast improves memory and test grades?
Pressed for time in the morning? We are! We cook a double or even triple batch of pancakes, waffles or muffins over the weekend. We refrigerate and have plenty to get us through the week. Here are two of our family favorites, apple oat breakfast bites and high protein cacao pancakes, a.k.a. super chocolate pancakes!
For many of us, dinner offers the best opportunity for cooking with our family. Start with one night to schedule as family dinner night (perhaps followed by games?!).
Too hungry to cook? Prevent snack attacks! I set out some washed and sliced fruits or vegetables to munch on while we're cooking. This means the children (and yes, me!) will be less likely to nibble on the dinner ingredients while we work.
When is the right time to start? NOW! Everyone can help out in the kitchen. It's never too early (or too late!) to start .
Set up for success. Create a space where kids can comfortably reach. Add a stool or chair if necessary. Place a pan to catch spills or line with a dish towel. Invest in an apron and even a few cooking tools that are just for your family - my daughter feels like a pro in her chef's coat! These start at $10.
Let's Get Inclusive!
Looking for ways to create opportunities for everyone to be a part of food shopping, meal planning, prep and cooking?
Choose activities that feel appropriate for you and your child or family or better yet, include everyone in the process by offering choices!
Here are a few of my favorite quick and easy tips to get you started:
- Plan the next week's meals as a family, around the dinner table or by making suggestions on a wish list - Have a commute or car ride with the kids? Talk meal plans on the way!
- Meal Selection and Planning - include younger children by allowing them to select pictures in recipe books or magazines or simply offering choices!
- Create a wish list for meals or ingredients that everyone contributes to weekly
- Make the grocery list! Here are a few examples: review what's needed for meals, snacks and lunches, be a detective - check cupboards and recycling for recently used or missing items, scan recipe for items.
- Take out the trash and recycling - encourage meals that use ingredients that contribute the least amount of landfill or recycling (fresh, unpackaged and unprocessed)
- Empower kids plenty of choices in the produce area of the store - give them a list of fruits and vegetables to find, make it a scavenger hunt
- Allow kids to select the prettiest (organic if possible!) vegetables and fruits
- Encourage older children to weigh and measure the produce - how much does 8 oranges weigh? a bunch of spinach? a bunch of broccoli?
- Shop at a farmer's market
- Ask the kids to find produce from your local area (if labeled)
- Hunt for colors, textures and flavors - make it a game of eye spy something...on your next trip to the produce area
- Ask what they've always wanted to try or have been curious about - often kids are adventurous!
- Share your family heritage or some of your favorites from childhood - mine were marionberries and artichokes! what were yours?
- Allow your child to choose 1 fruit or vegetable each trip to take home and sample or have a taste test
In the Kitchen:
- Scrub, dip, tear, break, and snap! Here are a few examples: scrub yams or squash, dip broccoli into a bowl of water to wash, tear kale into bite-size pieces, break clementines into slices, snap the ends off green beans
- Shake, spread, and cut! Here are a few examples: shake spices or salt/pepper, spread slices of yams or butternut squash evenly onto a cookie sheet, cut melon with with a cookie cutter, cut softer fruits and vegetables with a butter knife
- Peel, juice, and mash! Here are a few examples: Peel citrus or carrots or yams, juice citrus with a small hand juicer, mash yams or squash
- Roll or line! Here are a few examples: Roll dough or line a pan with parchment or aluminum foil
- Remove husks from corn
- Measure and pour ingredients
- Stir or Hand mix
- Time - watch the clock and help to calculate remaining cooking time
- Clear, wash and Set the table
- Scrub dishes and empty the dish washer
Here are even more opportunities for older children and adults:
- Cracking, separating and beating eggs
- Reading some recipes by themselves
- Inventing their own easy-to-fix recipes
- Using the electric mixer with adult supervision as needed
- Stirring food over the stove with adult supervision as needed
- Using and reading a thermometers with adult supervision as needed
- Operating a can opener, blender or food processor with safety features
- Grating cheese
- Cutting vegetables, fruits, etc. using a plastic knife or butter/dinner knife
Did you know that including our family in shopping, cooking and food prep can reduce their risk of disease and addiction?
Including our kids, spouse or partner encourages them to take an active role in choosing what to eat. It's also true that as kids feel a sense of ownership and independence around these choices they become interested in trying healthy foods they might normally reject.
Kids will be kids (and let's be honest, as adults we do this too!)-- we' 'll snack on chips at a school party or enjoy ice cream after a soccer game. But what is most important is how we choose to eat most of the time.
Making a commitment as a family to practice healthy habits around food "most of the time" builds an awareness around healthy eating and the choices we make to support these values. And that's where we as parents and partners and spouses can play a crucial role.
Encouraging others to try healthier foods is not the only benefit of cooking as a family. The American Heart Association recommendations to reduce obesity in children and teens include involving children in meal planning, shopping, and food preparation. Research confirms that including our family in food selection and meal prep offers these short-term and long-term payoffs:
- Encourages kids and adults to try healthy food choices and new foods.
- Creates a sense of accomplishment.
- Offers a chance to make a contribution to the family.
- Increases likelihood that kids and adults will sit down to a family meal when they helped prepare it.
- Opens the lines of communications between family members
- Creates an opportunity to spend quality time together.
- Creates an opportunity to offer parental praise, affection, acceptance, and family bonding
- Offers an alternate activity to watching television.
- Reduces amount of junk food consumed.
- Encourages appreciation of the value of family meals and regular opportunities to eat together as a family.
- Teaches a skill our children will use for the rest of their lives.
- Increases the likelihood to make healthy food choices as adults.
- Builds self-confidence through positive cooking experiences.
- Reduces the risk of drug and substance abuse. (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University)Why not celebrate Valentine's Day with a little extra togetherness - quality time and a home-cooked meal with LOVE. Here are a few family-friendly recipes to Get Inclusive! with the ones you love:
Sides, Snacks and Treats:
- Green Smoothie
- Raw Kale with BalsamicSimplest Kale Salad
- Simple Sauteed Kale
- Crispy Kale Chips
- Zesty Orange Quinoa
- Sweet Greens Muffins
- Fall Nut and Seed Praline
Remember to Get Inclusive! And have a blast! The more fun we make our healthy eating adventures, the more we will all want to repeat them.
Each day this week we'll set daily nutrition habits that will reward us with renewed energy, radiance and optimal health. Whether we want to drop unwanted pounds, boost our energy, defy our age or simply eat healthier, each day this week we'll learn a new quick, simple tip for including vegetables into our daily routine. Making these healthy choices each day will move us toward our goal for the Year of the Dragon in 2012.
I'm excited to hear how you Get Inclusive! and include your family into your healthy eating choices this week! Please share your comments, recipes and tips below.
ENJOY your day and I'll see you back here tomorrow as we learn how to Get Colorful!
In Health & Friendship,
Want more?! Order your FREE Nutrition Book now.
We have partnered with, Dr. Joe and Stacey Merlo, D.C. who will be sharing these simple tips with their community at Good Vibrations Family Chiropractic all week-long. Stop in to their Kensington offices at Good Vibrations Family Chiropractic, voted Best San Diego Chiropractor.
Looking for more simple ways to incorporate vegetables into your day, including personalized recipes, meal plans and lists of seasonal vegetable choices for your local area? Contact Clea Shannon, certified holistic health coach and gluten-free guide.