As a nutritionist who spends her days working with celebrities and regular folks alike, there's one question I get all the time: “So, what do your kids eat?”
My kids aren’t immune to the lure of fast food and junk snacks. But nutrition is the family business, and by empowering them to make healthy decisions from an early age, I can trust them to use their good instincts.
This was one of the inspirations behind my new Fast Metabolism Diet cookbook and app. In the cookbook, I included over 200 tasty recipes that kids will love to eat and parents will love to cook. With the app, parents can streamline their shopping lists and plan a month's worth of healthy meals.
Just last week I had a counter full of fresh veggies that I brought back from the store: kale, carrots, mangoes, avocados, raw nuts and apples—a whole pile of great foods. My son walked in from school, saw my groceries and said, “I want to eat all of that!” I sure was a proud momma!
Parents have a tough battle when it comes to healthy eating. We’re up against poor-quality cafeteria food, rows of vending machines and aisles full of sugary, processed junk marketed to kids. But you can plant the seeds to encourage healthy choices.
Here are three changes you can make to your daily routine.
1. Make the kitchen the heart of your home. My best memories are of my mom’s kitchen. This is where I learned to cook, and learned to love food. Try taking your kids shopping with you and teach them how to choose the juiciest lemons, the crunchiest carrots and the freshest salad greens. Or give them a “kids’ night,” where they can plan and prepare part of the dinner (if they’re old enough). Emphasize making healthy choices, and help them choose the recipes and do the cooking.
2. Broker a deal. When my kids want to eat something they know I won’t be crazy about, we negotiate. I rarely say no completely, but I will ask for something in return. Typically, I’ll say yes to the ice cream or nachos but ask that they eat two healthy things first. My kids are now so used to this that it’s part of the routine. My daughter will say, “I want this cupcake I got at school, so I’m eating celery sticks and almond butter.” This is a great way to get them to think about what they’re eating, but there’s a sneaky agenda in there too. By eating healthy and delicious foods first, they’ll want less of the junk. This isn’t a bad tactic for yourself, either. Want to splurge on birthday cake? Have some red-pepper strips and hummus, or a handful of raw almonds and an apple, first.
3. Try some healthy makeovers. You may not be able to convince your kids to give up chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese altogether. But you can make those meals healthier and just as tasty. Here’s my no-fail recipe for pretzel-crusted chicken nuggets.
Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Nuggets
3/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 egg whites
1 cup finely crushed sprouted-grain pretzels (Unique 100% sprouted pretzels work well)
1 teaspoon seasoning of your choice (such as smoked paprika, chipotle powder, garlic powder or Italian seasoning)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into bite-size pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet (you may need two) with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the arrowroot, salt and pepper in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy.
3. Place the crushed pretzels in a third bowl and stir in a teaspoon of your favorite seasoning.
4. Dip a piece of chicken in the arrowroot until it is evenly covered. Then dip it in the egg whites, and then in the crushed pretzels.
5. Place the coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
6. Bake the nuggets for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and the outside is golden brown.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Want more ways to make over your favorite comfort foods? Visit my website, fastmetabolismdiet.com, for healthy recipes, tricks and tips.
Nutritionist Haylie Pomroy is the best-selling author of The Fast Metabolism Diet and The Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook. Ms. Pomroy lives with her husband, their five children and their four dogs in Los Angeles. Visit Haylie Pomroy and the Fast Metabolism community on Facebook.