Mindful Munchers

Help your kid become a great eater.

This is the first generation of children that will not outlive their parents because of lifestyle. Learning that fact motivated me to help change how kids and families look at healthy eating. My gift to you this holiday season is a surefire way to get your kids to eat better. Simply follow these steps to put you and your clan on the way to a healthier day.

  1. Allocate kids as expert tasters. It’s all about empowering kids to try new foods. Youngsters take eating seriously when they become family expert taste testers.
  2. Set two important rules. The first provision is that kids have to chew and swallow. The second is that they voice their opinions about taste. A thumbs up indicates a like, a thumbs to the side expresses indifference or undecided and a thumbs down means dislike. These rules have changed the way thousands of families communicate about food.
  3. Shop, cook and eat fresh. Natural ingredients come from nature. They grow on trees and bushes or derive from animals. Artificial ingredients come from factories. You and your kids should sit down and compare the elements of a strawberry to a strawberry fruit-roll-up. Decide together what is better for your body, the fruit or processed snack.
  4. Get your hands dirty. Connecting kids with where their food comes from and the vitamins and minerals foods contain motivates them to eat well. Lead your children in growing veggies, fruits and herbs in containers or a household garden. The smart lifestyle move doubles as a delightful family activity.
  5. Let kids explore their culinary skills. I haven’t met a child who doesn’t have an inner chef ready to start cooking. Get children stirring, whisking, cracking and chopping (with adult supervision), and don’t worry about the mess.
  6. Enjoy yourselves. Show kids by example that being healthy is enjoyable. It makes everyone feel great.
  7. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Many parents come to me because their kids don’t eat vegetables, and it worries them. But, when I dig a little deeper, it goes way beyond just greens. Kids aren’t experiencing family mealtimes, getting a good night sleep or exercising daily. Assess your family’s overall health and adopt practices that encourage total wellness.

I highly encourage you to practice these other seven healthy habits: eat fruits and vegetables, exercise, eat breakfast, get a good night sleep, set family meals, brush and floss teeth and recycle. While this regimen seems simple, it can be complex for families. Take an inventory of your current habits and begin to change the channel to make your clan healthier and happier.

Pumpkin Pie Dip

Create a creamy dip with seasonal taste in this kid-approved treat. Youngsters and adults may enjoy it with sliced apples, pears or salty whole-grain pretzels. Low-fat and loaded with vitamin A, the crowd pleaser is a holiday favorite and year-round staple. Serve it as an appetizer or dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 c. plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin— not pumpkin pie mix
  • 2 Tbs. agave nectar
  • 2 Tbs. packed brown sugar
  • 2½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. sea salt
  • Sliced fresh fruit and/or salted whole wheat pretzels

Directions: In food processor, combine cream cheese and yogurt. Blend until smooth. Add pumpkin and remaining ingredients except fruit. Blend until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to four days. Serve dip with sliced fruit or pretzels.