Seven Sneaky Tricks for Feeding Your Family Well
Do you have a toddler with a picky palate? Or maybe a husband who politely refuses anything green? Feeding your family and yourself a healthy, balanced diet can be tricky, and even stressful, when you throw in busy schedules, differing tastes, and food allergies or sensitivities. We mothers aim to please. It’s part of our job description to try to make our families as happy as we can, but it is also our job to nourish them. Unfortunately, if you are like me, you can find yourself too often throwing PB&J’s and grilled cheeses your kids’ way as preemptive, peace-keeping measure at mealtime. After all, who has the time and patience for a protesting preschooler at the end of a hectic day?
I have found that there are ways to feed my two-year-old food that actually makes it to his mouth (and stays there) with a nutritional value I can feel confident about. Here are my go-to tricks for feeding my picky family…
1. Greek Yogurt. This thick and creamy alternative to the regular stuff is a protein powerhouse that is also a great source of calcium and probiotics to help with a healthy digestive system. I buy it plain and substitute it anywhere I would use sour cream (tacos, chili, baked potatoes), or sweeten it with a little stevia and stir in fruit for a sweet treat. My favorite is mixed with mashed banana and a smidgen of vanilla extract!
2. Spinach. While I do not have one of those picky husbands (mine will pretty much eat anything), I do have a picky toddler. So, sneaking greens in our meals is like outsmarting a super sleuth. One tried and true dark and leafy I can get past his discerning palate is spinach. In its raw form, it has no distinct flavor, so I can chop it very finely and slip it into foods like grilled cheese, quesadillas, pesto sauce, and even mac and cheese.
3. Smoothies. Now here is where I really pack a punch. My son LOVES smoothies (and anything he can drink through a straw, really). I throw in anything we have on hand but always include bananas, baby carrots, spinach or kale (raw), almond milk, and yogurt. Other awesome add ins could be cauliflower, flax seed, almond butter, blueberries, mango, or even an all-natural whey protein powder. I really like this one. Get creative! This is a really fun way to involve your kids and fill dietary gaps.
4. Coconut oil. You’ve probably heard the hype about this one. Coconut oil is a superfood for many reasons. It does contain saturated fat, but it is actually a desirable type called lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride. This is a fat that goes directly to the liver to be metabolized into energy instead of stored as fat. For this reason, it helps you satisfy hunger and burn calories. Coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties! You can even use it as a natural alternative to diaper rash cream. I stir it into oatmeal, spread it on toast, and use it to instead of butter or oil in baking. It makes our Saturday banana pancakes super tasty! Here’s a quick recipe that your kids will lo ve: cube sweet potatoes, toss with cinnamon and coconut oil and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.
5. Almond Butter. This yummy treat has more iron, magnesium, and calcium than peanut butter (although, we also go through A LOT of peanut butter). I spread it on bananas for a quick snack, pair it with a low sugar fruit spread on whole wheat bread for an AB&J, and stir it into oatmeal to up the protein and add flavor. (Secret: It’s also really good licked off a spoon… just don’t double dip!)
6. Hummus. This creamy dip is a favorite for everyone in my family. My husband can eat half of the container in one sitting… er, standing, as he usually hovers over the counter with a bag of chips. Suprisingly, my son loves it, too. He sometimes dips mini pita rounds (which makes a complete protein when paired together) or apple slices, but more often than not he eats it with a spoon! I’m okay with that since hummus is nutrient-dense, a good source of protein, and contains the B vitamin folate as well as iron, a mineral many kids don’t get enough of. You can even use it in lieu of mayonnaise on a sandwich.
7. Gather ‘round the table. This one is not so sneaky, but it is good practice for many reasons. Austin will eat more variety at dinner when he eats the same thing that mommy and daddy are eating. Most nights, we try to sit down together, say a blessing, and eat our dinner together. He learns about good manners (even if he doesn’t necessarily practice them all the time!) and what is expected of him at the table. I admit most breakfasts and lunches take place in the kitchen with A in his highchair and me running around doing dishes, cleaning up, and fixing my own meal, so it is all the more important that the evening meal be a slower, family occasion.
Wishing you health and good table manners,