Healthy eating habits for life: Teaching kids healthy eating

Teaching kids to eating healthy by providing variety and good tasting healthy snacks, and sneakily substituting healthy ingredients

Getting children to eat healthy can leave the parent and child very frustrated. It can be an endless fight and ending in the child either not eating or getting their own way and eating something unhealthy. Starting early can help, but there are also little things you can do to help get it started.

EATING EVERY FEW HOURS

It is important to eat something every few hours to keep your blood sugar level throughout the day. This will help children to not get cravings for starchy, fatty foods, and not to feel so hungry that they overeat.

FOODS TO ENJOY

Children need to be introduced slowly to foods that are good for them. We don’t have to take away their favorite foods. We just have to find sneaky ways to make them healthy and palatable.

PIZZA: It is fine to have pizza on occasion and many ways to make them a much healthier treat. There are many low fat cheeses that can be used to also cut down in fat. Try to find the tomato or pizza sauce with the least amount of added sugar. The white flour pizza crust will send your blood sugar soaring, which will cause the child to have cravings when the blood sugar comes back down. It is wise to either go for a very, thin crust or a whole-wheat crust.

PIZZA CRUST: Making your own whole wheat pizza crust is the best choice. Below is a recipe for your making your own healthy pizza.

PIZZA SAUCE

  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Splenda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Mix ingredients together and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Makes one cup.

WHOLE-WHEAT PIZZA CRUST

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Splenda

Mix together flour, yeast, and salt. Then add water, oil, and Splenda. Mix ingredients well. Cover bowl with moist towel and set in a warm spot for 10 minutes to rise.

Spray 14-inch pizza pan with a non-stick spray. Shape pizza dough on pan. Bake at 350 just long enough to let the pizza start to cook. Take out and top with pizza sauce, low fat cheese, and veggies. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes. Done when crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

BREAKFAST: Breakfast can a rough time of the day. Remember that breakfast items don’t always have to be for breakfast. You may want to serve some healthy leftovers from the night before or some light yogurt with some strawberries cut up. Be creative.

PANCAKES: Pancakes don’t have to be thought of as a taboo breakfast food. If made with whole-wheat, they are high in fiber and nutrients.

WHOLE-WHEAT PANCAKES

  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Splenda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix all the ingredients together. Pre-heat griddle. Pour in pancake-size circles and cook to a golden brown on each side. You can mix in fresh fruit. Pour on sugar free pancake syrup with a few sliced strawberries on top for color.

YOGURT: Yogurt is great for a lot of different desserts. Use a low fat yogurt, which is low in sugar, around 12 grams or so. One such as Dannon Lite and Fit is a good choice. There are many flavors. Yogurt is good for fighting off bacteria, and they taste good. Use them to make smoothies with a little skim milk, berries, and a touch of sugar free Jello powder in a blender. I’ve used it on tacos or taco salads, or any other salad.

GUMMY WORMS: Children love the sweet and sour taste of gummy worms, but they are nothing but sugar. Here is a good recipe for sugar free gummy worms. You can make them as sweet or sour as you want by adding or subtracting flavors to your taste.

  • 2 package of sugar free Jello (any flavor)
  • 1 package of unsweetened Koolaide (any flavor to compliment Jello)
  • 3 packages of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water

Mix ingredients together until powder is dissolved. Pour into glass dish. Chill until hardened, and then slice into the shape of worms. Put in bowl with lid to store it but leave the just sitting on top, not snapped on tight. They get too moist if the lid is on tight and too dry if the lid is off all the way.

VEGGIES AND DIP: I went to the store the other night. They carried six different types of veggie dips, and that was just the ones by the dairy. Buy as many different kinds as you can and keep them on hand. Then slice up all different veggies into bite-sized pieces that the kids can grab and eat. With the different variety, they won’t get bored.

SPINACH: My children would never eat spinach if I cooked it. They didn’t like the look or the smell. So I bought some that was uncooked. Since it looks a lot like lettuce, I put it in their salad with the lettuce, and they never knew.

FOOD DEHYDRATOR: This is a great tool for making healthy snacks. Any fruit or veggie can be made into snacks using this useful kitchen appliance.

WHOLE-WHEAT NOODLES: Almost all kids love some kind of pasta. This is okay to serve them, but make it whole-wheat noodles. They have them from macaroni noodles to lasagna noodles. These are much better for everyone than the enriched white noodles, and it digests much slower.

FRUIT DISHES AND DIPS: There are many fruit dish recipes on the Internet. They run the gamut from fruit salads to fruit pies with sugar-free chocolate on them. There are many dips that are made from fruits and yogurt that taste wonderful and are good for them. It’s a great snack and they think it is a real treat.

VARIETY: Do a search for recipes in bookstores, on television, over the Internet, and even at garage sales. It’s easy to change many recipes to be healthier by using skim milk instead of full fat milk, fat free half and half instead of cream, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter or Smart Balance instead of butter, whole-wheat flour instead of white, whole-wheat noodles instead of white, whole grain bread instead of white.

SNACKS: How many children want snack cakes, pies, sandwiches, and puddings for snacks. Those things are fine but only if you make them. Recipes for muffins using whole-wheat flour instead of white like the muffins below, using sugar-free pudding made with skim milk, fruit pies with a whole-wheat crust. You can make sandwiches with fat free cheese, low fat meats like ham, and whole grain bread. The kids just may find you serving them even more snacks than before, but all of them healthy and from whole foods.

WHOLE-WHEAT MUFFINS

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Stir together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, stir together the liquid ingredients. Combine both sets of ingredients, mixing only until the dry ingredients are moist. Bake in greased or papered muffin tins for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

WHOLE-WHEAT BROWNIES

  • 1 cup melted I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
  • 4 generous Tablespoons cocoa
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup Splenda

Beat ingredients together. Spread in greased and floured 9 X 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let set for a few minutes.

As you can see there are many things that you can do to make meals not only healthy, but also enjoyable. Before you know it, they will be asking for your special dishes.

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