Fredericksburg Parent

February 2014

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28 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • February 2014 c hildren can be finicky. Most go through phases where all they want to eat is hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, or some similarly unhealthy barely-even-food. Try to put something healthy in front of them and they frequently refuse to eat it—sometimes loudly.. This junk food affection can make it difficult to plan a good family meal, especially when parents work full time or are single parents. A good way to help combat this is to get the children involved in the meal planning. Dr. Nimali Fernando endorses this approach, as well. "Get kids involved!" she says. "In my experience kids who help choose meals and participate in cooking them are more likely to try new foods. When shopping I sometimes let my kids choose a new fruit or vegetable that we have never tried before." Most kids have a fruit or veggie (or two) that they already like that can be incorporated into meals. Children enjoy having a say in things, so start by planning a meal around that one thing. If they like peas, for instance, some baked chicken with peas and rice is a nice easy meal to put together. From there it can be challenging to introduce even veggies with similar flavor profiles, so again, get the kids 28 • Fredericksburg Parent and Family Health and Wellness Guide • February 2014 that we have never tried before." involved. Bring them shopping and show them everything you might buy. Let them help prep and cook the food at home. Make a big family event out of it—most kids love to help out in the kitchen. If you slowly expand your repertoire of meals, you can have your little chefs discover the joys of snacking during prep, which will teach them awesome lessons like, "red bell peppers are actually very sweet." Seriously, they might not stop eating those once they try them. If there are multiple children in the household you can easily divvy the help by age—older ones can help chop stuff, younger ones can help measure and mix ingredients. GEttiNG iN tHE KitcHEN The espresso balsamic stir-fry recipe included with this story hits all of the right notes. It is customizable to taste and can get the kids involved in the planning and shopping stages. Any meat will work with this recipe, and vegetables can be swapped in or out to suit individuals. Meal Time

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