Science and experience proves to us that healthy eating is the best thing you can do to become a slimmer and healthier person. But, if you’re still struggling between picking up a bucket of fried chicken and preparing a home-cooked meal featuring a medley of vegetables, then this list was created especially for you.
#1 – Gives you natural energy.
Move over caffeine and sugar, whole-grain, fruits and seeds are natural energy powerhouses that won’t leave your body in a foggy daze at the end of the day.
#2 – Satisfies your cravings.
Your body caves less sugar and unhealthy ingredients when it’s getting proper nutrition from healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.
#3 – Saves you money.
Yes, some junk food might be less expensive, but because it has fewer nutrients, you’ll end up eating more in the long run. Look at ways to stretch the dollar by cooking your veggies with rice, beans and whole-grain pasta.
#4 – Gives you control.
Healthy cooking allows you to control the portion size and ingredients in your recipe. This is great for people with food allergies or special dietary needs.
#5 – Your body digests food more efficiently.
Many digestive problems are due to unnatural and unhealthy ingredients that cause our bodies to work overtime to digest. By eating healthier foods, we’re helping our bodies use food more efficient for fuel.
#6 – Fosters quality family time.
Healthy cooking is usually followed by good ole’ healthy eating and conversation, which strengthens a family’s bond and communication.
#7 – Teaches kids how to make healthy choices.
Healthy cooking creates conversation around ingredients, food choice and healthy eating. For example, if your child dislikes his spinach salad, talk to him about how spinach is packed full of healthy iron that helps his heart pump better. Then show him how he can eat it in a new way and bring out a tortilla and turn it into a spinach wrap.
#8 – Is more flavorful.
Healthy cooking replaces much of the sugar, salt and fats found in unhealthy foods, which disguise the natural fun flavor of food.
#9 – Helps your brain work better.
In addition to sleep our brain needs healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamin C and whole grains to function at its best. You can’t get these nutrients without cooking healthy foods.
#10 – Gives you more years to live.
You’ll be around longer for giving and getting kisses and hugs from your loved ones. Need we say more?
For many kids (and their grown-ups), especially picker eaters, eating vegetables can be a daunting task. For others, a green drink is the highlight of their day. If your family falls into the first category and your little cook would rather brush his or her teeth, scrub the toilet or clean the floor with their toothbrush before eating healthy vegetables, try out some of our favorite tips to get your kids to fall in love with some new healthy foods.
- Explore veggies at the grocery story - and let them pick out their favorite. This isn’t only fun for your child, but will give him or her a sense of ownership and pride.
- Add three vegetables to homemade pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza? And who doesn’t want their kid to be healthy? So why not put the two together!
- Add them to a smoothie. If your child really can’t stand the taste of veggies, smoothies are a great way to mask the flavor. You can add in more vegetables over time and eventually their taste buds will learn to love them.
- Use vegetables to make faces on your sandwiches. This is just plain fun and makes eating a whole lot more fun.
- Eat them in a rainbow (and with low-fat dip). Aesthetics are everything! They can have fun arranging then into a rainbow then eat then all up.
- Color a picture of your veggie, then enjoy it as a snack. Most kids love coloring and once they are done with their picture, you could bring out the veggie to eat in real life.
- Read about the veggie before you eat it. This is for children who love reading and are always spurting out facts. They will enjoy the mental stimulation and build a connection with the food.
- Make a list of new veggies to try each week for a month. Your child would get to decorate a calendar and they would have plenty of time to prepare for eating a new food!
- Make eating veggies into a game. The more veggies your child eats, the more points they earn. Maybe they could even get little prize after a month or so.
- Make a collage of healthy eating! Take their picture eating a healthy veggie and post it on your fridge!
Ever since I gave birth to my first son, I’ve been on a mission to help myself and other parents raise healthy kids. Although we all have moments of indulgence, without a healthy-eating plan, holidays can get out of control. The “one” day holiday can lead to 7 or more days of sugar frenzy eating. If you’re trying to stay healthy, but don’t want to take the “fun” out of Easter, here’s some healthy (or healthier) Easter basket ideas. Enjoy!
1. Dried Fruit Rolls or Twists (Get the ones with no added sugar or preservatives)
2. Cashews (or nuts) – Be careful, make sure there’s no allergy in the house
3. Raisins – Regular, chocolate covered or yogurt covered
7. Mini rice crispy treats – No recipe is better than the one off the rice crispy box. Just spray your hands with non-stick cooking oil and shape a few into tiny balls.
8. Sugar-free gum
9. Dried fruit – Specialty fruit such as mango or pineapple
10. Mini pretzels or pretzel sticks
11. Mini homemade cookies – If you don’t want to exclude all “treats”, make your own cookies; you’ll control the ingredients. Best of all, they are small enough to fit inside eggs, so your kids will eat less cookies.
12. Mini graham crackers
13. Mini cheese crackers (organic) or cheddar bunnies
14. Baby carrots
17. Annie’s Organic Gummy Bears
18. Dark chocolate chocolate chips
21. Dollar store items
22. Mini cars
23. Mini characters like angry bird, dolls, etc.
24. Hair bows
25. Seeds for planting
26. Mini logos
1. Week 1, 2 and 3: Replace a sugary food for a healthy one. Most people who struggle with sugar addiction typically have a vice. Last week, a pediatric dentist I spoke to said the number one dietary issue he found contributing to kids decaying teeth (along with poor hygiene) is an overabundance of processed breakfast pastries (such as pop tarts, donuts, etc.) and sugary drinks. Pick one of your kid’s vices and replace it with a healthy alternative. For example, if you are a breakfast pastry person, then make your own healthy granola bars. For soda, make our Fizzy Passion Punch. If your kids have more than one vice, then replace a new sugar habit for a healthy one every week for three weeks (or longer if your kids have more than 3).
2. Read labels on processed and packaged foods. You’d be amazed at how much sugar is in canned spaghetti sauces, ketchup, jelly, peanut butter, applesauce, soups and salad dressings! Most of the time, there are healthier versions with less or no sugar. To help when reading labels, look out for the names of sugar’s alias: brown sugar, sugar cane, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, galactose, glucose, honey, hydrogenated starch, invert sugar maltose, lactose, mannitol, maple syrup, molasses, polyols, raw sugar, sorghum, sucrose, sorbitol, turbinado sugar, and xylitol.
3. Use sugar-free for transitional foods, but not for long term. Sugar-free foods trick your body into thinking it’s eating sugar. Although most sugar-free substitutes don’t impact blood glucose like sugar, it tricks the brain into thinking the body has eaten it. If you’re trying to kick the sugar habit, then this is counterproductive. Instead, try using 100% fruit juice as a sweetener or natural, no-sugar added applesauce.
4. Remove the junk “snack food” from the house and replace it with healthy snacks. The only thing worse for a kid’s growing body than being hungry and not finding anything to eat, is being hungry and only finding only junk food. So, help your kids fuel their body with nutritious snacks. Some ideas are dehydrated fruit, apples and peanut butter, cheese and crackers, raisins, dried fruit (no sugar added), or fat-free popcorn.
5. Get good at drinking water. We all know that soda should be seriously reduced (if not eliminated completely) from kids’ diets, but that’s sometimes easier said than done. To help it get done easier, focus on increasing your child’s water intake. Eventually, they will desire soda less and water more. Some tips are to only pack water at lunch, add colorful fruit to your water glass at dinner (and serve in clear cups for the kids to see and enjoy), or have a one glass of water rule: whenever your kids want soda or juice, tell them that they must drink a full glass of water first. After that, then you’ll give them ½ cup of 100% fruit juice.
6. Establish a healthy breakfast routine. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. But for families, it is often the busiest. So come up with some healthy breakfast ideas and have them ready. Some of our favorites are oatmeal (cooked using apple juice or milk instead of water), Ezekiel bagels, smoothies and fruit, English muffin and egg whites.
7. Change your definition of “deserts”. Make them healthier. In our society, desert is something that may never go away. Fighting that fact might leave you exhausted and defeated, so learn how to play the game in a healthier way. Deserts can be healthy and nutritious foods! Some healthy sugar-free deserts are fruits with sugar-free whipped cream, sugar-free jello with fruit or whipped cream, fruit or peanut butter smoothies, raisins and a teaspoon of frozen orange juice on plain yogurt.
8. Snack often. You’re body won’t crave sugar or junk food as much when it’s properly fed and nourished. Be sure to fill your little cook’s belly with a small nutritious snack every 3 hours to curb their sugar cravings.
9. Jump while counting, play tag, do pushups or something that requires energy. The more your little cook moves his or her body, the less they will want junk food. Studies show that exercise decreases cravings. That applies to your little one also!
10. Be dedicated for 3 weeks. Research keeps proving that the best way to break a habit is by committing to a new action for 21 consecutive days. Be ready for your new habit to be a difficult transition the first week, but if you can commit for 21 days, you’ll find that you’re little cooks taste buds will change for the better.