Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Be a vegetable role model!

If you ask anyone young or old, vegetables are probably not a favorite food. The best way to get your kids to eat their veggies is too eat them yourself as parents. When I talk about vegetables, I mean more than canned green beans, corn and peas; I want you to spend some time in the produce section of your grocery store and look at the different varieties of vegetables. Now once you see all of the different kinds, look at all the different colors. Here is what I want you do to, with your children, pick out three different kinds of vegetables making sure you pick out different colors. Take those veggies home and eat them, you don't have to eat them all at once, spread them out through different days of the week. Then the next time you're at the store, pick out three different vegetables of varying color and take those home and try them. This is just the baby steps, work your way up to eating different vegetables at every meal.

You may ask: Why eat different vegetables of different colors? Because vegetables have been found to lower cholesterol, protection from some cancers, lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes, and the list could keep going. Also, the more variety of vegetables, the better your chances to lowering your risk for these diseases. Why be a good role model for your children? Researchers have found that the plague build up in arteries starts at a young age, by the time a person is 20 the plague in the arteries has formed and keeps collecting more plague. The earlier we can start having our kids eat healthy food (and have them enjoy it) the better their health will be for the rest of their lives.

Have your children help you along the way to eating more vegetables each day, take them to the store. I know some parents prefer shopping without their kids because it reduces the "I wants" while strolling down each isle. So make your vegetable shopping trip just that, vegetables and only vegetables, one goal, nothing else. This also teaches self control, a good thing to teach our children in the age of I wants. Make this shopping trip while you are already out and about with your kids, after sports practice or on the home from school. When you get those veggies home, have your kids help plan ways to eat them. Then eat the vegetables together as a family.

Okay, now you have those vegetables at home, what do you do with them? Let me tell you, the possibilities are endless! Eat them raw, here is your "on the go" ideas...cut up varieties of veggies and keep them in a see through containers, when your headed out of the house and need a quick snack...cucumbers, red peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, carrots, cherry tomatoes, the list keeps growing.

Eat your vegetables cooked, steaming them in the microwave is the fasted and you won't lose the nutrients of those veggies like you would if you boiled them. After you steam them, it is ok if you want to add something to them, such as salt, pepper, and butter (small amounts, keep them healthy), add some cheese, try Parmesan for something different. The point is to get yourself and your kids to eat vegetables in a variety of ways.

Vegetable are also good to incorporate into other meal items. I love to add spinach to my lasagna, shredded carrots and zucchini in meatloaf, and use spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles.

I feel like I've gone on and on all day and I still have more to say about vegetables, because they are my favorite food. I keep multiple containers of cut up vegetables in the fridge, once they are in the fridge cut up, they are a fast and easy way to snack and use for meals. If I run out of fresh veggies; I open the freezer door. Buying them frozen instead of canned reduces the amount of sodium and frozen veggies contains more nutrients than the canned version. When we have salads at home, no matter if it's for taco salad or a side salad, my salad mix incorporates two different leafy greens; I buy a bag of fresh baby spinach and a bag of another green (not iceberg because iceberg has the lowest amount of nutrients) when I get home I mix the bags and store them in the fridge.

Kids love ranch dressing with their fresh veggies and salads right? Here are some different ideas, because ranch dressing can add a lot of calories to your healthy vegetables. On salads use cottage cheese with a dash of pepper, mix a dry ranch packet with lowfat sour cream or blend with tofu to make a different kind of dip.

I will finally end my discussion on vegetables, although I could keep going! Just remember keep your vegetables colorful and if you want your kids to eat them, you need to eat them too!!

Next week I plan on talking about drinks, the unseen addition of calories. See you then.

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