We all want to help our children develop good eating habits. However, let me be honest by saying my sweet tooth is HUGE and my willpower is teeny-tiny. Can you relate? My main weaknesses are pop and ice cream. So, how do I guide my children to make good choices without feeling like I’m depriving myself? There are three things I try to focus on when it comes to my family and food:
- Involving my children
I am a huge believer that if kids help prepare the food, they are much more likely to try something new. However, there are certainly nights that I’m in a hurry and I just want to get supper on the table and sometimes their ‘help’ isn’t really so helpful. This is when I give my girls tasks that will keep them busy but won’t slow down the process. For example – picking the leaves off parsley, or drizzling olive oil and sprinkling salt/pepper. Sometimes I just give them a bowl and ask them to make a fruit salad. They can pull whatever fruit they want out of the fridge and assemble it without any instruction from me.
TIP – If you have infants and toddlers, I recommend putting them in a high chair with bowls, utensils, measuring cups/spoons, and/or empty spice containers. This allows them to feel involved at a young age, but (more importantly) it also allows you to prepare a meal without constantly having to check on them.
My second tip is to consider how the food looks. We all eat with our eyes first, and that includes our children. I try to prepare ‘healthy foods’ in a way that makes it more desirable so over time a bowl of fruit is equally (if not more) satisfying than a bowl of ice cream. I know, I know… let’s be honest – if someone put a bowl of fruit in front of me and a bowl of ice cream, it’s really no contest. Ice cream would win most of the time. But a fruit salad like this would certainly make me think twice.
Now that warm weather is here, I wanted to share some cold drinks/treats that are easy and fun for your children to help prepare, but you won’t feel guilty for giving them. Let me clarify – these recipes aren’t meant to be ‘health food’, instead it is a healthier alternative for the sweets I constantly crave during the spring/summer.
Fruit Puree Italian Sodas
I loved Italian sodas growing up and recently I wanted to recreate them for my daughters but I didn’t want to buy a bunch of fruit syrups. Instead, I pulled out a bag of blackberries, strawberries, and peaches from our freezer (you could certainly use fresh too).
- If using frozen fruit, allow to thaw
- Puree fruit with a little water or simple syrup to create a syrup consistency (I used a homemade vanilla bean simple syrup – recipe below)
- For berries – strain puree to remove seeds. (optional)
- Add fruit purees to glass
- Pour in club soda
- Add a splash of cream (optional)
- Top with whipped cream
Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup
For the vanilla bean simple syrup bring equal parts (1 cup) sugar and water to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Split 1-2 vanilla beans open. Pour the simple syrup over the vanilla beans and refrigerate.
No, I’m not trying to convince you that this simple syrup is healthy in any way. However, it is full of flavor (so a little goes a long way) and doesn’t contain any extra additives. Remember, it’s all about moderation. Plus, it’s a delicious addition to many drinks including coffee, cocktails/mocktails, and my favorite – vanilla coke.
…Pause here for a minute so you can appreciate how amazing a glass bottled coke with a homemade vanilla bean simple syrup is…
“Ice Cream” / Yonanas
Many people have tried (or at least heard of) banana ‘ice cream’ or ‘Yonanas’. But for those who haven’t, it is nothing more than blending frozen fruit (either with a Yonanas machine or a food processor) until it reaches a thick creamy consistency similar to ice cream. It’s hard to give an actual ‘recipe’ because you can make it with almost any combination of fruit and the possibilities are endless. But, aside from the few more decadent combinations I’ve made, it is 100% fruit which means it is a perfect treat any time of day. My daughters love when I tell them we’re having ‘ice cream’ for breakfast and I feel great about serving it to them. Try sprinkling on some granola for an extra crunch.
Here are some of my favorite Yonana combinations so far.
Strawberry Yonanas parfait with diced peaches, yogurt, and granola
Strawberry, Mango, Lemon
Now, stock those freezers full of frozen fruit and you’ll always be ready for a sweet treat on a warm day!
What are some of your favorite fruit combinations?