Are you parents and worried about how you are going to put your children back into a program after a summer full of treats? Do you simply want to teach your children to eat healthily and nutritionally? Specialists claim that when we raise a healthy child – that means, an active child that eats well without many misdeeds and maintains its weight balanced throughout the year – is like raising a healthy adult too.
The messages that I receive daily from parents, regarding what they can give to their children, are so many and so, I would really like to keep helping by making new, nutritional and of course, tasty recipes for both children and adults.
Which are, though, the most important messages that you have to get across to your children from the time that they are very young? Now that they are getting back to school, I think it is an opportunity for a fresh start.
Step 1: Teach your children to eat breakfast.
As we have already mentioned here, the breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. It is absolutely necessary to eat something healthy and nutritious so that we can start our day full of energy…Especially for the children, it is very important to have the necessary energy and focus that they need not only for school but also for their extra-curricular activities. Foods that would be good to teach them to eat -especially for breakfast- are the following…
- Seeds such as flax and chia
- Peanut butter, wholegrain tahini, and almond butter
Step 2: Do you know how to make the perfect, healthy “lunch box” for school?
Add at least one fruit into their “lunch bag"…Apples, pears, kiwis, peaches, nectarines, and fresh plums are perfect choices for a snack, while they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibers. In fact, pair them with nuts or a small piece of cheese and that will become a full, complete meal rich in nutritional ingredients.
Step 3: Add at least two vegetables in the “lunch box” along with their lunch.
Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery, cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, and mushrooms, are vegetables rich in nutritional ingredients, antioxidants and low in calories. If each time, you choose a combination of colors, then your children will love them and they will want to eat vegetables daily and not only when they are home.
Step 4: Add nutritional, complex - “good” carbs.
What do we mean by that? What else…Choose pasta and bread that are whole wheat, whole-grain rice, bulgur wheat and sweet potatoes for your child’s nutrition. They have low glycemic index, are high in fibers and they will make your children feel full for longer. They will possibly avoid eating chips and treats - foods which are not healthy, that can be easily found at school and will top your children's diet up with empty calories.
Step 5: Add non-fat meat and the necessary protein to your child’s meal.
Chicken, turkey, fish, eggs but also, legumes are all very nutritional choices rich in protein. In fact, salads with lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa have started to become very popular. So, why not prepare a super healthy meal, full of color, vegetables, and legumes that the children can take with them to school?
Step 6: Add definitely 1 bottle of water in the child’s schoolbag...
Maybe even a larger quantity depending on its age, the physical activity but also the environment – temperature that he/she is into. Moreover, if you feel that they do not drink enough, you can add lime, mint or fruits in order to give a stronger taste and make them drink more.
Step 7: I left the best part for the end…Make your children’s dinner along with them by following, of course, the above instructions.
In fact, what is better than following a particular trick each time? You can make dishes with patterns or with a wide variety of colors or prepare either meatballs or souvlaki with different ingredients each time. I have prepared, of course, some examples for you to look at below, and some of these choices can easily be eaten as lunch at school too.
I believe that the above steps are enough to add to the life of your children with the beginning of the new school year. If you do not want to make a sudden change to their diet, simply take one step at a time and believe me, they will see the change on their own and they will love their food.
This article was written in collaboration with Kitchen Lab’s Sports Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.