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So, what’s the best way to get kids exciting about eating garden-fresh foods? For suggestions, I turned to Chef Brenda Thompson, a registered and licensed dietitian, who is helping Idaho’s schools to comply with new USDA school foodservice standards
Working together with districts throughout the state, Thompson is providing serving ideas and other nutritious food tips to encourage schools to use more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes in their menus. She admits it takes a little work to get kids eating garden-fresh foods, but it’s definitely possible to get good results.
“Never force kids to eat fruits and vegetables that they don’t like,” says Thompson. “Instead, keep giving them opportunities to try these fresh foods over and over. Research shows that if you keep presenting foods to kids in different ways, it is likely they will eventually eat these foods.”
Despite the fact that you may end up throwing out some fresh foods during the process, it’s still worth it. “Our Idaho schools are proof that kids will even eat Brussels sprouts with enough exposure to the vegetable,” she adds.”With a little patience and the right recipe, you’d be surprised what kids will eat.”
Not surprisingly, gardening is another great way to get kids eating fresh produce. “When children help grow foods in the garden, they are much more likely to eat them,” adds Thompson. “That’s why many schools in Idaho are starting gardens, as well as encouraging parents to build food gardens at home with their kids. Spending time in the fresh air, rather than in front of a video game or computer, offers many benefits for these students.”
There are so many health advantages to eating garden-fresh foods, according to this dietitian. “Foods picked fresh from the garden are the healthiest,” she says. “These foods have millions of antioxidants; some of which we haven’t even discovered yet. Encourage your kids to eat a variety of fresh foods in different colors from your garden to ensure they are getting lots of different healthy nutrients.”
Here are three fast and healthy recipes to make with your children:
Ants on a Log
2 stalks celery
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup raisins
Cut celery stalks in half.
Spread 2 tablespoons of peanut butter in each celery half.
Sprinkle with raisins.Makes 4 servings.
Confetti Bean and Cheese Pinwheels
2 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
1 cup vegetarian refried beans
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded1 bell pepper, cut into strips.
Spread 1/2 cup refried beans evenly on each whole wheat tortilla.
Sprinkle with cheese and add pepper strips to each tortilla.
Wrap tightly; heat in microwave for 45 seconds.
Cut into 1-inch slices.
Each tortilla makes 8 wheels.
Makes 4 servings of 4 wheels.
Cheese and Fruit Kabobs
4 kabob sticks
8 pieces of fruit
1 ¾-inch slice yellow cheese
1 ¾-inch slice of white cheese
Cut fruit and cheese to fit on kabob stick.
Decorate and serve! Makes 4 servings.
For more healthy kids’ recipes, visit www.brendaswellnesskitchen.com.