By Allen Foster
Growing up, Nicole Leah Connor suffered from some minor health issues that had a negative impact on her life. Determined to find a solution, she healed herself by changing her diet and lifestyle. That experience placed a mission inside her heart, something she didn’t realize was there until her job in the business world started to feel a little unfulfilling. Nicole returned to school to study psychology and spent a couple of years doing social work with special needs children. The experience changed her and Nicole discovered what she was supposed to be doing with her life. She returned to school once again. This time, she finished as a Registered Dietitian.
“We live in a culture that tells us our worth is contingent on being a certain size and having a certain type of body,” Nicole told CBS. “Often, it’s one that’s not even healthy. We shouldn’t approach health behavior as a punishment, we should approach it as taking care of ourselves because that’s the only way you’re really going to make a true change.”
“Modeling is the most effective way for kids to learn how to eat,” she continued. “Keep showing them that you like to eat the things you want them to eat. And then, be patient. On the average, it takes offering a new food to a kid ten times before they are comfortable trying it. Encourage eating food that is good for your body, but don’t force it because that might not end up well.”
Following are five tips and two easy recipes that will help ensure a great start to every single day.
Tip 1: Have Them Help
“Kids love to create things, and they take great pride in what they create. One of the best ways to get kids excited about new foods is to have them help cook and create that meal. Have a vegetable garden? Have the kids help to water and pick the vegetables. Serving fruits? Have them help to wash off the fruits or do any jobs suitable for their age range.”
Tip 2: Use Visuals
“Kids, like many adults, first eat with their eyes, but with kids, making foods fun and visual has endless possibilities. Use cookie cutters to shape whole grain pancakes or eggs. Making fruit pancakes? Try making a face with the fruit to up the fun factor.”
Tip 3: Make Colorful Smoothies
“Kids love to eat things that are their favorite color, so use your knowledge of color combinations to make fruit smoothies, such as mixing red fruit and blue fruits (strawberries and blueberries) to make a purple smoothie. Not in season? Frozen fruit works great in smoothies. As a bonus, if your kid’s favorite color is green, add some green leafy vegetables in for a nutrient packed powerhouse to start the day. [See smoothie recipe below.]”
Tip 4: Work In Vegetables Wherever You Can
“Vegetable filled breads or muffins are great, such as zucchini bread. Additionally, grated sweet potato or grated zucchini can be subbed in for potatoes in hash browns. Just make sure to squeeze the moisture out of the zucchini in a tea towel. Spinach and other leafy greens can often be snuck into chocolate muffins. This one is great for kids who just hear the word vegetable and run away. Note: You can do half zucchini/half potato if that ratio suits the kids’ taste buds better.”
Tip 5: Try Breakfast In Different Forms
“Smoothies can be frozen into fun popsicles. Often, muffin mix can be made into brownie type shapes. You can even find ways to serve cookies for breakfast. [See breakfast cookie recipe below.] Make smoothies into a fun, colorful smoothie bowl. Don’t limit yourself to the typical forms of breakfast, especially when just reshaping it might make your kids excited to eat it.”
Related: “Best Parent-Child Activities Near Pittsburgh“
2-Ingredient Breakfast Cookies
- 1 cup oats
- 2 overripe bananas
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- With a mixer, blend the bananas and oats together.
- After bananas are smooth (or slightly chunky, if you’d like), add any optional fixings that your kids love, such as raisins, chocolate chips, M&M’s, peanut butter, vanilla extract, etc.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes and let cool. Yields 10-12 cookies.
Make Your Own Smoothie Recipe
- 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit (feel free to mix and match colors)
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup milk or water
- 1 tablespoon honey or 10 drops liquid stevia
- Any additional add-ins you’d like, such as vanilla, cinnamon, greens, etc., etc.
- Blend all ingredients until smooth.
- Sip and enjoy.
Note: If adding greens, you will want to blend the greens with the liquid first, then subsequently add all of the other ingredients.