Learn more about nutrition for kids and why some kids may be picky eaters.
Today, we couldn’t be more excited to welcome our favorite experts on nutrition for kids: Katie Jasper, Megan Morris, and Anna Decker from Prescribe Nutrition.
Katie and Megan are functional nutritionists and the co-founders of Prescribe Nutrition. And Anna acts as Prescribe Nutrition’s resident mom, providing practical tips for parents and helping to facilitate programs like Kids Rule.
If you haven’t heard of Prescribe Nutrition and you haven’t checked out their Kids Rule ebook – be sure to click through and take a peek. We have both participated in several PN programs and they have yielded amazing results that transformed everything from our kids’ behavior, to the amount of sleep we get, to how well our clothes fit. Amazing!
So let’s see what they have to say about keeping kids healthy! And…don’t miss out on the yummy recipes that they were kind enough to share at the bottom of this post!
One of the most common questions we get from parents is how they can get picky eaters to eat outside the box…of the mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and bunny crackers box that is. First we have to start with why these situations exist, then we work on how to change them in a way that works for everyone… no tears, more cheers!
There is science behind picky eating that is truly fascinating. One of the biggest problems that we face today is something rather shocking given the abundance of food – malnutrition. This is probably not the malnutrition you first imagine, it is not referring to the lack of food and water, but instead the lack of nutrient dense foods or consumption of foods that feeds an imbalance. We are finding ourselves in a time where we have more than enough to eat, and yet many of us are suffering from major deficiencies.
Every year 17,000 new food products hit grocery store shelves. Unfortunately those 17,000 new products are doing less good then we might hope. Incidence rates of almost everything are on the rise, especially things like ADD, ADHD, mood and behavior challenges. This is because food that is highly processed interferes with the brain’s ability for proper cognition. One of our favorite ethos: “The more alive your foods are, the more alive you will feel and the more alive your kiddos will feel!
Ever wonder why we all love those processed foods so much? It’s no mistake or coincidence. There are actually addictive properties in some of our most popular foods. If the body doesn’t properly break down those foods, compounds are developed that sit in our opiate receptors (you heard that right – opiates) in the brain. This is just one of the reasons we want more and more. This is only in addition to the additives and preservatives that are meant to enhance flavor, making them all the more enticing. This is also why kids and adults alike react behaviorally to food.
Our kid’s growing brains require a vast array of minerals, vitamins, fats, amino acids, antioxidants, and much more. A diet lacking in these can affect basic brain function. But a diet rich in these necessities is like having keys to those locks. When we fill up our nutrition “gauges” in the brain, things begin to function again. Just a few weeks of a nutrient dense diet can make a huge difference; we see it all the time with our clients and program participants!
So how do we make changes without dinner table woes, tears and frustration? We make it delicious. Sure we also occasionally hide the “good” stuff, too, but we have a few fundamental rules when making changes to our kiddos diets: focus on adding in rather than taking out, leveling up (making small, healthy swaps), getting the kids involved in the kitchen, and last but certainly not least, we celebrate the wins.
Studies have shown that the best way to expand a child’s palate is through repeat exposure. So the motto, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” is paramount. It’s also important to try different methods. For example, if your little one doesn’t like a baked sweet potato, try: sweet potato fries, sweet potato chips, sweet potato hash…heck, you can even hide sweet potatoes in brownies and smoothies (and they are mouthwatering good!). The creative options are endless, and the exposure is crucial. You wouldn’t believe the amount of wee ones we know who are now requesting green smoothies!
Ready for some of our favorites? These recipes are from the Kids Rule Ebook from Prescribe Nutrition. It’s full of tips, ideas, information, and amazing recipes from experts who know about healthy eating for kids.
MINT CHIP SMOOTHIE OR POPSICLE
2 cups or handfuls of spinach leaves
1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
5-6 fresh mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey or grade B pure maple syrup
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (optional) or cocoa nibs
- Blend all ingredients except for the chocolate chips or cocoa nibs in a high speed blender until completely blended and no green bits remain.
- Add in the chips or nibs at the very end and pulse in the blender very quickly, then serve in glasses or pour into the molds and freeze. Enjoy!
PRESCRIBE NUTRITION SMOOTHIE TIPS FOR KIDS
- Get creative with the flavors – think about what goes well together in baking and/or cooking and go from there. Some favorites include mint + berries, mango + ginger, beets + cocoa…but the possibilities are endless.
- If your child is hesitant about the color, serve in a colored cup with a lid and a straw.
- In fact, straws are a hit no matter what.
- If they don’t like the texture, try pouring into popsicle molds. Kids love pops!
- Let them be part of the process – picking out the ingredients, letting them put the spinach in the blender, etc. It’s all about giving them ownership.
- You can alter any recipe to fit your kid’s tastes – sweeter, less sweet, thinner, thicker, etc. It’s all about playing around.
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 ⅕ teaspoons cinnamon
2-3 teaspoons coconut palm sugar
½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 450 F. Toss chickpeas with melted oil, cinnamon and sugar until evenly coated.
- Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, shaking pan occasionally, until chickpeas are golden and crunchy, 30-40 minutes depending on your oven.
- Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
2 ripe Hass avocados
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate*
1⁄2 cup thick coconut milk (from the top of the can)*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup honey
1 pinch sea salt
- In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, melt chocolate and coconut milk (or you can do in heatproof bowl in microwave). Stir until smooth, let cool slightly.
- Put chocolate mixture, avocado, vanilla, honey and salt in a food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Spoon into dessert cups and place in the refrigerator.
- Serve well- chilled, with a dollop of coconut cream, if desired.