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How To Raise A Child Who Likes Vegetables!

Kid Kritics in the kitchen“How did I raise my kids to like vegetables? How did you make them try new foods? I hear these questions at least once weekly, professionally as a registered dietitian, and as a mother.

My proud mom side takes a minute to smile and feel good! After all it is no easy task. We are all so busy that convenience and time-saving are qualities we look for when feeding our children. For me it started when my kids were just babies, with my nutrition background I had a few advantages. Today I combine my experience as a mother and registered dietitian to offer tips and suggestions so that you can have your proud moment too! There is nothing more rewarding than grocery shopping with my kids (which you remember is not my favorite thing to do) in the fruits and vegetables side of the store and hear them beg for broccoli and snow peas.

For brand new mommies I say: start from the beginning. Your baby should have an exclusively breastmilk or formula diet until 6 months of age. Then start with vegetables instead of cereals or fruit, preferably green veggies like peas or green beans. This is when you build a “taste base” for years to come by familiarizing their palates with as many flavors as possible. After vegetables, serve a variety of no added sugar fruits and cereals. Make your own, or choose the ones that have as ingredients the fruit and only and maybe some vitamin C as the preservative. No need to stick to just rice cereal, apples and bananas; venture out to barley, quinoa, avocados or coconut. Avoid refined sugar as much as possible. It has such a powerful impact on our taste buds it can make the naturally sweet taste of fresh fruits disappear. The same goes for salt; there’s no need to add it to fresh food. Use herbs and spices to add flavor. Kids who start off appreciating the natural taste of fruits and vegetables grow into adults who will crave less sugar and salt.

The good news is it’s never too late! At any age encourage your children to participate in grocery shopping, cooking, and setting the table. Give them some control of what you’ll make for a meal; let them feel included in the decision process. Vegetables, whether raw or cooked, can be a challenge. Spark your kids’ interest by telling them where it grows (or helping them grow some of their own!) Let them smell it, touch it (yes, play with it) and taste it! Children are much more likely to try a food after they help prepare it! We recently started a new family tradition of cooking together once a week. My kids look forward to helping out in the kitchen, dicing, mixing, measuring and the final presentation says it all! The more colors on the plate the more attractive it is. After all, plates filled with only brown, beige and white foods are boring. Be sure to add some naturally sourced color! It doesn’t have to be fancy, but how you plate it can make all the difference. My kids love garnishing our dinner plates with fresh basil and mint leaves; they feel like “real chefs.”

We know kids will try new foods, especially if they smell good. (90 percent of why we choose to put a food in our mouth is based on whether it smells good or not.) At Kid Kritics Taste Test, we see this happen all the time. Moms come running in and ask what we did to motivate their son or daughter to eat broccoli or other vegetables. Something about the way it looked and smelled opened their minds to taking a bite. It also helps when their friend dives in and says they love it!

We have a recipe tab on our website with hundreds of recipes that have been taste tested and approved by kids, it is hard to pick a favorite, but here are the links to three that are easy to get you started in the kitchen with your kids:

http://www.kidkritics.com/recipes/Creamy-Broccoli-Chicken-Bake/260

http://www.kidkritics.com/recipes/Veggie-and-Cheese-Pasta-Salad/269

http://www.kidkritics.com/recipes/Spinach-Dip/72

… for the health of your family,

Carolina

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How to pick the right cereal for your kids

Hi everyone! Ellen invited me to blog, so for those who don’t know me let me introduce myself. I’m Carolina, a registered dietitian and our social media manager here at Kid Kritics. I work part-time as a clinical pediatric dietitian, and full time as a mother of my 5 year old daughter and an almost 3 year old son. They are my little kitchen co-workers, my first taste testers of all the recipes and products I find out there.

Today I want to share an all too common scene at the grocery store: the cereal aisle struggle. That's where you’ll find lots of lost moms with their demanding and sometimes screaming children, overwhelmed dads and once in a while someone like me, a mom carefully eading all the labels amid the chaos. I try to avoid going through this maze of cereal choices when I’m with my kids. When I do bring my kids it sounds something like this: "Mommy, can we buy those with the girl on the front, or that one with the toy, or can we have that one with the colors on the box;” resulting in an instant headache! And I'm not alone… I often see another mom having the same issue, but sadly some give in and buy those high sugar "nothing-in-it" cereals. For me it has gotten better with time. It was a trial and error process, I approve the label, buy the cereal and they get to taste test it. My kids now know which cereals we purchase, and they are very happy with our choices.
Here are the most important things I look for when choosing a cereal:

- Pick one that has "whole grains"; the word "whole" has to be before each grain in the
ingredient listed.
- Look at the ingredients versus the "health claims" on the front of the box. If they say it has
fruit in it make sure “fruit” is listed, not food dyes (Red #4) mixed with gelatin.
- Aim for low sugar, ideally less than 10g per serving.
- It must have some fiber in it. I like to see at least 3g per serving.
- Don't worry so much about how much fat is in it, worry more about what additives or artificial
flavorings were added – avoid them!
To make your grocery shopping easier remember you can use our KKA Grocery List http://www.kidkritics.com/index.cfm?page=products to find products that have been awarded our Kid Kritics Seal of Approval at a blind test. After all, what’s the point of spending money on really healthy cereals that your kids won't eat?
Barbara's Bakery cereals are Kid Kritics Approved and a favorite in my house; look for them in several flavors: Puffin Puffs Fruit Medley, Puffins Cinnamon, Puffins Peanut Butter, Puffins Chocolate Peanut Butter, Puffins Honey Rice.
… for the health of your family,

Carolina

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DISCLOSURE: Once a product passes ingredient standards evaluation followed by a blind Kid Kritics taste test, a company can opt-in to the Kid Kritics Approved marketing program. Though monetary compensation for marketing is involved, this does not affect the nutrition evaluation or taste test results.