Healthy Cooking for children

After posting Jamie Oliver's TED talk on the blog last week, I had a comment back from Jennifer that said:

"This video clip is so moving. Thank you for it, Ruth. What would be the 10 meals that you would teach children to cook that would save their lives?" 


I felt the answer deserved more than just a comment back and so here are some of my suggestions. Remember, children naturally love healthful foods. Their genetic makeup is designed to consume nature's bounty without any coaxing or effort; they naturally like fruit and vegetables.  The following aren't full meals necessarily as salads can be added for appetizers and fruit for dessert etc, but they give you some ideas.

Breakfasts: I would definitely teach the children about healthy green smoothies, especially as it's an easy way to get green vegetables in us at breakfast time.  To begin with, it's important to not go too heavy on the strong flavored green leafy vegetables until they get used to the green taste, so adding more fruit for the first week or so helps, for example a banana or a couple of dates. I make my smoothies with only fruit and vegetables - no milk or yoghurt or anything else.

Photo by jules:stonesoup

1.Mango spinach smoothie.  A bag of frozen mango and a few handfuls of spinach blended up together, with a little water to get the consistency that you want.
2. Applesauce smoothie - 3 apples, a banana, a bunch of parsley and some root ginger and water.
3.Lettuce smoothie - 3 cups of lettuce, 2 pears,half a pint of blueberries and water.

Lunches:  Often school lunches include processed meats and cheese, but there are many other healthy meals like soups and salads or cold left overs that kids can take in attractive containers to school.


4. Raw almond nut butter sandwich on whole grain bread, plus orange or apple slices.
5. Whole wheat pita bread pocket filled with hummus, salad and nut/fruit dressing and some pineapple or seasonal fruit.
6. Carrot cream soup made with carrots, zucchini, onions etc and raw cashews for the creaminess. Kids often like soups cold so they can take it as is or warmed and in a thermos.

Dinners: Dinners a typically a good meal to start with a salad with some beans, mushrooms, onions, seeds, nuts and berries.  The following are suggestions after the salad or to accompany the salad.


7. California Creamed Kale.  Kale is such a high-nutrient green vegetable that you can add to soups or serve chopped.  In this recipe, the kale is lightly steamed and then served with a soy milk and cashew cream
8. Healthy potato fries.  Potatoes, cut into fries,  are mixed in apple juice and left for 5 minutes, then the juice drained and they are baked in the oven for about 20 minutes.
9. Pita-bread pizza.  Using whole wheat pita, no salt tomato sauce, mushrooms, broccoli, onions and soy cheese.
10. Squash Fantasia - Baked dish made with apricots, raisins, orange juice, butternut squash, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Small portions of organic, white meat or eggs can be added to any of these - using meat more as a condiment or flavoring rather than the focus of the meal.

And not forgetting Dessert - how about non-dairy ice cream - made by freezing bananas and then when frozen, blending them in a high powered blender. Yummy on it's own, but even better when other fruit is added to the blender too, like strawberries or raspberries or blueberries or else almond butter, or cocoa or......  Tastes like soft scoop ice cream.



Gosh, this could go on for ever, but I hope this gives some ideas.  What would you suggest? What are your kids favorites?

If you are looking for more information on how healthy eating for kids can protect  them  from diseases, check out Dr Fuhrman's book "Disease-proof your child - Feeding kids right".
Comments

12 ways to eat more vegetables

Remember - March is National Nutrition Month and time to "shape up your plate".  So today, I'll offer some suggestions of how to increase your intake of vegetables.  I think vegetables are the most important part of our diet.  They give the body so many nutrients, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and impact the body in many ways - so it's always good to try and eat good quality vegetables.


Here are 12 ideas you may want to try to increase your veggie intake and move towards eating a plant based diet:

  1. Eat a salad at both lunch and dinner.  For one of these meals, you can make the salad the main entree, and for the other, you can have it as an appetizer or a side dish.
  2. Substitute raw vegetables for crackers or bread. For example, cut up carrots or cucumber or celery or bell peppers and serve those with hummus or cheese.  Or instead of bread for a sandwich, put the filling on a slice of lettuce or kale or collard greens and wrap it up like a tortilla wrap.
  3. Join a CSA - community supported agriculture - and get a box of vegetables from a local farmer every week.  Some weeks you'll have something you've never tried before, so it'll encourage you to be creative and try new recipes and ideas.
  4. Prepare more than one days worth of vegetables at a time. For example, if you are roasting vegetables to have with dinner one night - roast a full large pan and save the others for adding to soups or stews or reheating later in the week.
  5. When you plate your meal, give yourself double the amount of vegetables you normally would, and then select a smaller portion of something else - like meat - to compensate.
  6. Drink your vegetables.  I ingest a large portion of vegetables by using them in green smoothies. The smoothies taste like fruit instead of vegetables so this method is great for  everyone - even those who say they don't like vegetables.  It's also an easy way to get vegetables into breakfast.
  7. Add extra vegetables to soups. If you are making your own soups or using prepared soups, just throw in a few more veg - like a handful of spinach, some mushrooms, some sun-dried tomatoes.There are lots of choices.
  8. Chop up vegetables to add to your grain dishes, for example cut up peppers, cucumbers, fresh leafy herbs, onions, chives, and add them to your rice or quinoa dish.
  9. Make a salad dressing out of veggies - blending an avocado with cucumber and lemon juice, for example.
  10. Keep a bag of raw veggies cut and cleaned in the fridge for quick snacks when you are hungry.  Take the bag in the car with you when you drive if you are going to be late having a meal.
  11. Try growing sprouts indoors by a window.  It's fun to watch them grow and then add them to salads and sandwiches.  They are a great source of enzymes and so help digestion.
  12. Plant a vegetable plot in your garden - doesn't matter how small - can even be a single plant pot. You can also grow vegetables indoors if you don't have a garden.When you grow your own veggies, you'll enjoy them even more, knowing the care you've given them.
Photo by Zdenko Zivkovic


Do you have other good suggestions? 

Now go eat some veg!
Comments