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Let's help our kids eat right

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

Are you having enough fun with your summer break? Did you get to do any fun activities with your family during the break? Now it is time for us to get back to school and back to a daily routine! In August, we celebrate kids eating right and kids going back to school.

I always believe it is crucial to establish an individual’s eating habits at an early age. There are several reasons to set these habits early: 1) young children need good nutrition for growth; 2) it is easier to teach someone younger, before the behavior/preference is already established; 3) children are more likely to carry good eating habits into their adulthood.

The key to helping our children learn good nutrition is PATIENCE! There is no doubt that it can be difficult to introduce new foods to our children. When we repeatedly try new foods (slowly, a little at a time) along with their usual food, our children will eventually get familiar with those new foods and be less resistant to them (without them even noticing). The whole process of introducing a new food may take up to ten times (or maybe more), it is important to NOT GIVE UP!

Tips for nurturing healthy eating habits:

  1. Make family meal times a priority

  2. Remove distractions during meal times (such as sitting on the dining table during meal times, turn off TVs)

  3. Get children involved in the kitchen (it should depend on the kid’s age and skill level: menu planning, grocery shopping, setting the table, mixing ingredients, preparing dishes/snacks). For ideas on how to get children involved in kitchen activities, please refer to National Heart, Lungs and Blood Institute.

  4. Explore a variety of flavors and foods from different cultures and cuisines (make fun themes when working on menu planning: Trip to Italy-eggplant parmesan served with Caprese salad; 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympic dinner - folded sushi and japanese salad with carrot ginger dressing)

  5. When preparing/serving snacks, focus on nutrient-dense type of snack options: such as fruits, yogurt, nuts/seeds, and/or granola.

Hopefully, you learned something about children and nutrition. It is now time to see what we can prepare for our kids that they are more likely to try.

Breakfast ideas: It is crucial to start your kids' day with good nutrition so that they can perform well at school!

Tortilla cups with eggs: The recipe is adapted from USDA

Egg sandwich: There is no recipe for this sandwich. What you need to make this sandwich is brioche bun, two hard boiled eggs (mash them, then mix with yellow mustard, ground mustard, salt, and pepper), oven roasted turkey breast slices, coleslaw mix. If you like a little more flavor, you can add in some turkey bacon.

Lunch ideas: our kids usually have a short lunch break at school, it is a good idea to pack them light and easy to eat food.

Mini shepherd’s pie: I slightly modified the recipe, I used ground turkey instead of ground meat for the filling. I had it served with baby carrots and salad. The recipe adapted from Super Healthy Kids

Fruity chicken salad with croissant: It is a super refreshing sandwich that is packed with lean protein (from chicken) and fiber (from apple, celery, pineapple). The recipe is adapted from Taste of home.

Rainbow wrap with baked chicken: It is a very flavorful burrito that wraps with bright, crunchy veggies (red cabbage, red bell pepper, carrot, and spinach) and thai peanut chicken. The recipe is adapted from the ambitious kitchen.

Cranberry turkey wraps: The recipe adapted from Taste of Home.

Folded kimbap (or folded sushi): No recipe included for this wrap/sandwich because it is very versatile. Similar to the tortilla hack, you can pretty much choose any ingredients you/your kids like for the wrap, but instead of tortilla, we spread the fillings on top of a layer of seaweed nori sheet. I had my folded kimbap made with quinoa, romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese, turkey bacon, scrambled eggs, and mashed avocado. It is super easy to make, delicious, and filling!

Salmon baked beans burrito bowl: I had this salmon baked bean burrito bowl served with quinoa, salsa and zucchini tots. The recipe adapted from Super Healthy Kids.

Snacks ideas: Our kiddos are very active at school, they tend to complain of being hungry after school. Now it is time for them to have some healthier snacks instead of offering them snacks/ice creams.

Pecan baked chicken tenders (prepared by Chef Brendan): Does your kiddo ask for chicken tenders when you pick ‘em up after school? Do you know there is a better, healthier way to prepare chicken tenders? By baking the chicken strips help to minimize the intake of unnecessary saturated fat and calories. Also, we made a slight modification of the recipe here, Chef Brendan used oats to coat the chicken strips instead of panko. The recipe adapted from the MODERN PROPER.

Turkey cheese pinwheels: it is a super easy to make snack. The ingredients you need are boursin garlic and herb cheese spread, romaine lettuce, turkey breast slices, and cheddar cheese slices.

Zucchini tots: You can definitely make these zucchini tots ahead of time and freeze them. The recipe adapted from Damn Delicious

Cheesy veggie quinoa cakes: It is the perfect way to introduce veggies to your kiddos. This dish can be packed in your kid’s lunchbox, or we can serve it as an after school snack with ketchup/ranch dressing/salsa. The recipe adapted from Super Healthy Kids

Yogurt: You can use yogurt to make many different snacks. You can either make it into berry yogurt bark (made by chef Brendan) or yogurt parfait (I made a simple version yogurt parfait, which topped the plain greek yogurt with blackberries with granola clusters)

**most ingredients are sponsored by DRH Food and Nutrition Department

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