Summer is almost here and that means kids will be eating more meals and snacks at home. Keeping those meals and snacks healthy over the summer can be easy with a little planning. Following the MyPlate food guide system for healthy eating tells us that half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Another generous portion of whole grains and a small portion of lean protein round out the healthy plate.
Last week I got to have my two granddaughters, ages 5 and 1 ½, spend the day with me. We started the day with oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. Calyn and Camdyn are really good eaters; in fact, they wanted seconds of the broccoli, carrots and brown rice we had for lunch. After naps they were excited to eat a snack of fresh fruit. Kids are definitely like little sponges who pay close attention to what you are eating, so modeling healthy food choices is important.
The task is easier when you keep a good supply of fresh fruit and veggies on hand. Soon our farmers markets will be open with some great choices of locally grown produce. Late cold weather pushed back the planting of many gardens but hopefully now that it has warmed up you are still thinking about planting something. Research shows that when kids learn about vegetables and fruits by growing them, they are more likely to eat them.
Take time now that school is out to sit down with your kids and get them involved in meal planning. Make a deal with them to try one new vegetable every week of the summer and you will expand their healthy plate. As the kids get older you can offer age appropriate chores related to meal preparation and serving. Giving children choices when it comes to what is served gives them a sense of ownership. If a new food is not liked the first time it is offered, wait a couple of weeks and try again with the food prepared in a different way.
If anyone reading this would like ideas on foods to prepare with youngsters, feel free to check out the “Kids a Cookin’ “ website. Have a fun summer in the kitchen!
Donna Krug is the Family and Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. You may reach her at: 793-1910 or email@example.com