Preschoolers (and beyond) and healthy eating: 2 simple tips

I’ve recently been asked by a number of people for suggestions to get their children eating healthier. I can certainly do a long post with lots of information and links to sources that will make your head spin.

But, if you’re anything like me, you don’t have a lot of time on your hands to read, process and then decide how to make changes in your hectic life. So I’m going to offer you two simple tips to incorporating healthy and *gasp* RAW foods into your child’s diet.

First up, GREEN SMOOTHIES. What in the world am I talking about? Exactly what it sounds like. I purchased a http://vitamix.com/ a few months ago and this thing totally changed my life. Not really, but I have never before in my life used a blender every day and often two or three times a day before this one. It’s high powered, can liquefy basically anything, and takes approximately 30 seconds to clean. As a busy working mom, that was what pretty much convinced me to bite the bullet and buy this expensive high powered blender. Also, it came with a 7 year warranty.

So, the idea is, you take a somewhat mild green- spinach, chard, red or green leaf lettuce, and you pair it with fruit- apples, bananas, pineapple, or whatever fruit you prefer, add some water or 100% apple juice and blend it all together.

When you’re first introducing green smoothies to the family, the ratio should be 30%- 40% greens and 60%-70% fruit. Basically this tastes like a smoothie but your kid is getting the benefits of raw greens pre-blended which makes it much easier for the digestive system to process all of the yummy vitamins and minerals present in the greens. A quick google search for “green smoothies” will yield lots of exciting info a for you- as well as recipes.

The second tip I have is for you to get a spiral slicer. I recently purchased this one (note: it was much cheaper on Amazon.com) and let me tell you- we have been turning everything we can into fun and interesting shapes.

First up was zucchini spaghetti (I called it zaghetti). I marinated it for an hour in Annie’s Asian sesame dressing and added red peppers and Eden’s sesame shake. It was delicious. It doesn’t taste like pasta, obviously, but it also doesn’t taste like raw zucchini. Next up was turning raw beets into spirals, along with cucumbers (seedless) and then carrots. My 6 year old became very interested in tasting all of these things- yes, raw beets included- and using the spiral slicer with me.

I feel like I uncovered the Holy Grail or something! Basically, turning any raw vegetable (not root vegetables) into an interesting shape, putting it to marinate for a while in a favorite (hopefully healthy) dressing or making your own with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a pinch of brown sugar is a painless way to introduce raw foods into your child’s diet.

In the interest of making these suggestions *recession-friendly* I’d like to suggest that you can make green smoothies in a regular blender that you already have at home- I’d imagine you’d need to blend it for a little longer and add more liquid. Also, if you don’t have or don’t want to purchase a spiral slicer, try using a hand held vegetable peeler or a grater to make interesting and thin shapes out of the raw veggies.

I’d love to hear from any of you who try either of these tips, or if you’d like to share your own. Clearly, many of us are trying to make sure we help our kids start or continue on the path to good health. Kudos to us!

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