Getting your kids to eat healthier


I must admit I was a very picky eater. The girl pictured above- that was me although what she has looks like something I would actually have eaten. Dinner at our house was boiled broccoli, with potatoes and pork chops with cream of chicken soup. I eventually at ages 10 and up ate those foods and actually loved them til I realized you could cook broccoli without making it army green. BUT I often ate- and you are going to gag now- canned mac-n-cheese if I turned my nose up at our dinner. I even craved it when I was pregnant and found it was actually discontinued. Probably because it was toxic. Instead when I was pregnant I searched and found Chef Boy-r-dee raviolis and after 1 can my delicious memories were gone. (We used to eat them a lot as kids).

So now I have 3 kids of my own and I am cursed with picky eaters. The youngest- we will call him “The Beigetarian” and that literally means he only eats beige things. He has Joe’s O’s (think Cheerios but a bit crunchier) and milk every single dang morning for breakfast and for dinner if he’s not into what we are having. The pediatrician we had in Massachusetts thought that was a great idea. Offer him dinner- make him a plate- and if he says NO then he can eat Joe’s O’s and milk instead. She figured he’d think this was boring and would begin to try new foods. Yeah- 2 years of that and now he looks at what is in the pan and just gets out his bowl, spoon and milk and he’s got dinner made!

So I began to realize that my kids needed to eat vegetables and I quickly found smoothies. I would put 2 bananas, frozen mango, frozen pineapple, kefir, milk and OJ in the NutriBullet  and I would have kids eating nutritious breakfasts. I would then branch out and change it up and add spinach and blueberries (to cover the green) and they would drink that too. That was the FIRST green veggies my son ever ate- in a smoothie. Next I began to look for ideas. I first bought Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld and discovered I could sneak sweet potatoes, chick peas, black beans and so many other nutritiously dense foods into my kids meals. I was off and running.

I started making pancakes and made up my own recipe inspired by my new cookbook. I added a cup of pumpkin, 2-3 squished bananas, ground flax seed, black strap molasses (a great source of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium), 10-12 eggs and even made them gluten free. It was a slow change to get us to that amount of pumpkin but once we got there (adding 2 tbspns at a time and more eggs each time to bind the mix) they began to lose their taste for “beige pancakes” and began to ask for those. One morning my youngest began to refuse the delicious healthy pancakes and so I tossed in mini-choc chips and from that day forward those were the go to breakfast, dinner, snacks. Pumpkin-Banana-Chocolate-Chip pancakes were my new favorite thing to make. I would make them twice a week and it was a good feeling to know that something healthy was being consumed by the kids.

My older son didn’t like his food to touch so dinner was a bit hard on him too. He was a bit more adventurous and it took him til age 13 before he’d try spaghetti sauce or pepperoni. Peer pressure took care of that one- kids at a Scout meeting- and the only pizza was pepperoni. Thank goodness for that- as he know eats Hawaiian Pizza, Sauces on foods and much much more.

Add to the mix my middle daughter who after a trip to the petting zoo at age 10 became a Vegetarian. I did explain that she would have to actually consume vegetables for this to happen- right?! She quickly had me making sauteed broccoli and peas and all sorts of things. She never did take to peas but everything else – you name it and she eats it. We were inspired by going for Thai food and she began to try Tofu, and bok choy and mini-corn (she doesn’t like those either). But she eats so well now. I make her a tray of Vegetable Lasagna and a tray of Vegetarian Enchiladas and she’s set for the week. We all eat it (all meaning John, myself and her) for a dinner and then she will eat the rest of the trays over a 2 week period at lunch for school or dinners when we are eating a meat based meal. She’s a bit more work but she is eating very well so I can’t complain.

Back to the pickiest kid. So after a while I exhausted most of the recipes in Deceptively Delicious I found The Sneaky Chef cookbook and my life was inspired again. This cookbook truly changed the way I ate and the way I cooked. There were so many things you could do to make your food healthier. That is when I found honey ground flaxseed and began to put it into every single baked good. I reduced the oil, added 1/2 – 3/4 cup of Organic Golden Flaxseed  into a recipe. I was even able to replace eggs when my sister came to visit as she was allergic to eggs. Simply put 2 Tablespoons of warm water in a bowl and add 1 Tablespoon of ground flaxseed. Wait about 3-4 min and mix with a fork. Do that for each egg (and you can do them at the same time) and poof- you have egg replacement.

All of this substituting led me to some amazing recipes. One of my favorites is Garbanzo Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies. Don’t be thrown off. It is a little disconcerting the first time you make them. You use a rinsed can of Garbanzo beans and cream them as if they are the butter. They smell funny when you begin to beat them -some fly out of the bowl- but in a few minutes they have the same creamy texture as butter. Follow whatever recipe you like or use mine and you end up with gooey delicious cookie balls. I must say they are a go-to favorite food. I have also replaced the Garbanzo Beans with White Cannelini beans and they work great too.

So don’t let the picky eater in your life get you down. To this day- I make smoothies with Egg White Protein Powder. I add Ripple Pea Protein Chocolate Milk, mix in some egg white protein powder and using my immersion blender cream it til it’s frothy. I add about 1/4 cup of the egg white powder and that adds 16 g of protein to an already protein rich milk. Quinn loves this for a fast go-to breakfast before High School. With the protein powder and the milk as I make 24 oz of this he gets 16 g of protein from the egg whites and 24 g from the Ripple Milk. That’s enough to help him make it to 7th period lunch (1pm) since he is eating breakfast at 7am.

So have a healthy and delicious day- try those cookbooks (affiliate links above) and see how you can transform meal time from an awful experience of trying to force your kid to eat vegetables or just plain giving up to “breakfast for dinner” with a huge helping of Pumpkin!

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