It’s likely no surprise when I tell you that childhood obesity and lack of nutrition is a problem in our county. Recent studies show that the current obesity rate for children age 2 to 19 is over 18%. While there have been many positive trends in this data in recent years, it’s still apparent that childhood obesity is an epidemic. More than 12 Million U.S. children are obese. Diets high in fats, sugar, and processed foods are certainly partly to blame for these concerning numbers. Teaching our children to enjoy more plant based foods can set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating and good health.
Eating more plant based meals and snacks adds necessary nutrients to your child’s diet. There are many nutrients that can only be found in plants, such as Vitamin C, Prebiotics, and Antioxidants. Plant based foods also add needed fiber to our diets. Whether you are a vegetarian or an omnivore, there is always room for plant based snacks in your child’s diet. If your child is averse to vegetables (as many are), you may need to get creative in what foods you offer and how you offer them. Here are some great tips that I’ve learned to get more plant-based healthy foods into my kids’ diets.
Get Creative with Veggies and Fruits
We all know that food that looks great is more appealing. This is true for kids too. Cut up veggies into funny face shapes, make “ants on a log” or otherwise make healthy snacks fun! Play with different colors of fruits and vegetables to make rainbows or patterns too. Your only limit is your imagination.
Involve Your Kids in the Kitchen
I’ve found that kids are more likely to try new foods if they’ve had a hand in creating or cooking them. Find age appropriate ways to involve your children in shopping, planning, and making plant based snacks. As an added bonus, cooking with your kids is fun for them and increases the amount of time you get to spend with them.
Eat as a Family
Eating meals or snacks with your kids is a great way for you to model good eating habits to your kids. If they see you enjoying plant-based snacks, they will be much more likely to enjoy them as well. Eating together is an excellent family activity too.
If you need a starting place of recipes to create, try these kid-friendly snacks:
Fresh Corn Salsa is great for eating with your favorite chips or on top of tacos. Adjust the heat for your kids’ tastes.
Cucumber Hummus is a delicious and protein packed spread that works perfectly as a dip or as a sandwich spread.
Zucchini Pizzas. My kids love to help me make these miniature pizzas that use zucchini slices as the crust!
Cindy Gordon is a foodie who loves to blog about gluten free vegetarian/vegan recipes on her website Vegetarian Mamma. Cindy's family is dedicated to finding/creating recipes and products that fit their families dietary needs. Cindy resides in Ohio with her husband and two boys (born '07 & '10). She enjoys spending time with her family, the outdoors, gardening, wine and cooking!