We work too hard, too many hours, do not take few enough days off, rarely get vacation time, and come home to a house full of chaos. Is it any wonder why many families bring home fast food many nights and are cooking dinners with processed foods out of boxes other nights? After a long day at work, the last thing most people have energy for is spending hours in the kitchen cooking a meal from scratch. What seems like a short cut, processed or fast food, may be anything but a short cut. Our reliance on high calorie, high sodium, and greasy junk food has drastically increased obesity, increased the threat of heart disease and cancer, and has made us forget what real food tastes like. This is especially dangerous for toddlers and other children. It will teach them that they “do not like” vegetables and may lead to unhealthy choices throughout their lives.
It may seem like too much work, to cook with natural ingredients but really it is all about taking small steps. The first is rather simple, eat at home. Just pick a few nights per week and make dinner at home rather than at a restaurant. Start simple. For each meal think of a lean mean, a healthy starch, and some vegetables. Avoid processed foods on these nights and whenever possible try not to take any short cuts. Remember, this is about teaching your children to learn to enjoy eating healthy in addition to any benefit for yourself.
One routine may be to plan to use healthy lean proteins such as beans and nuts and combine them with whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and sweet potatoes for your starch. Then just look for simple ideas and see what vegetables are available at stores, markets, or local farm stands that week. The first night could be primavera with whatever vegetables you can find. Rather than using a high calorie cream sauce, try cooking the veggies in olive oil and stock. The next night could be a vegetarian chili. All three of those could be made throughout the year, be changed for whatever veggies are in season, do not require any complicated cooking methods and require very little energy on your part.
For the primavera, just cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. Also keep in mind that making homemade pasta, even wheat pasta, is very easy and may be worth researching. Pick any vegetables that are in season and that you are trying to introduce your child to. One good combination may be broccoli, peas and tomatoes. Cut the broccoli into small florets and cook it in olive oil until it starts to get a little soft. Add in some stock and maybe some seasoning. Right before you serve, mix in some peas and some cherry tomatoes cut in half.
The chili is like any other chili only with no beef or other meat in it. Be sure to add in plenty of onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, or any other vegetables that sounds good. The idea is to get your children to eat natural vegetables.
As time progresses focus more on natural and homemade food. Try and get your children to eat more raw fruits and vegetables and sneak as many as possible into meals. Use them for snacks and desert. What seemed impossible once will become easy and routine with practice.