There is only one thing that is more fun than making a delicious meal as a Mom—making it with my little girl. When we cook together, magic happens. I get a chance to teach her about nutrition and help her develop healthy habits, even before she can speak in full sentences. As a health food blogger, I often receive emails from parents pleading for help. The most two common complaints I hear are: “My kid is a picky eater. What do I do?” and “My children do not want to eat anything healthy.” From my personal experience, I've found that involving kids in preparing meals and snacks is a great—and effective—way to make healthy eating fun.
Being the dynamic, ever-moving creatures they are, kids learn best through hands-on activities. Involving children in the process of making healthy meals also makes them appreciate the food they are offered. Besides being a Mom to a very active toddler, I am an aunt to a few dozen nieces and nephews, and I have yet to meet a child who would refuse to eat the food he or she made themselves.
My daughter, who is 22 months old, has been involved in meal preparation ever since she was born. While in the beginning she was not participating actively, she was around in the kitchen when I was cooking, so she could get used to the noises and the bustle of the kitchen. As she grew and was able to sit, and then stand, I involved her in making meals with me—most of the time this meant that she played with or held the ingredients.
Some of her favorite times in the kitchen have always been making our daily nutritious green smoothies. She loves to taste the ingredients we use, throw them into the blender, and, under my ever-watchful eye, push buttons and watch magic happen.
When the smoothie is made, she always firmly requests to “Taste it,” then proceeds to stick her little finger in the blender and lick it. If she likes it, her face lights up. “MMM! Good!” she exclaims, which means only one thing—she is going to dip her finger into the blender container again and give it to me to taste, then watch for my reaction.
I always make a big deal about everything she does. When it comes to smoothie tasting, I usually break out in praise, telling her that she made the tastiest smoothie and, sometimes, we even do a little dance together and make up a song about what we just created. This always excites her and she cannot wait to get a hold of her smoothie jar to have a serving of her “Yummy in my tummy” smoothie.
She is not as good at cleaning up the mess we make while cooking yet, but for now, making a mess together is the best thing I can do to teach her to eat healthy and become familiar with real foods. Today I want to share one of my daughter’s favorite smoothies. I am sure that kids of all ages (1 to 101) will love it. Sprout is certain of that too.
Sprout’s “Yummy in my Tummy” Green Smoothie
yields ~50 oz. (3 servings)
3 cups water
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 crunchy apple of your choice, cored (seeds removed)
2 cups pineapple chunks (fresh or frozen)
8 oz. frozen strawberries
4 collard greens leaves, stem removed
Place all ingredients, starting with water, into the Blendtec blender (we use a Designer series blender) Blend on the "Smoothie" cycle until smooth. Enjoy immediately. Refrigerate leftovers in a glass container. Leftovers keep well for 2-3 days.
Sprout and I would love to hear about your family’s favorite, easy-to-make healthy recipes. Please share them in the comment section.
Elena Wilkins is a health and fitness blogger. She is a certified trainer and a lifestyle coach. By changing her diet she was able to save her life and reverse severe medical conditions. Now she teaches people how to reclaim their health by transitioning to a whole food plant-based lifestyle in just 30 days. She and her daughter Sprout (her online nickname) spend a lot of time in the kitchen, creating healthy recipes to share with adults and children of all ages alike. A high speed Blendtec blender is one of Elena’s favorite kitchen tools. She literally cannot imagine her life in the kitchen without one for even a day. You can find Elena on her Vegalicious blog.