Jenn Spitzer is a registered dietician and mother of two who teaches children and adults to eat healthfully. She currently sees patients with cancer, diabetes, eating disorders, heart disease and obesity at the Norma Pfriem Breast Care Center in Fairfield, Conn.
Its that time of year again. Flip-flops have been traded for Uggs, kids are back in school and summer berries have been replaced with Macintosh apples and butternut squash. As the leaves on the trees change colors, its time to color our plates with fall fruits and vegetables. But how do we get our children on board?
As a registered dietitian and mother to two very different, very picky eaters, I assure you there is a way. My oldest daughter Jessica, 7 1/2, will eat just about nothing if I havent sprinkled a little chocolate on top. Her sister Sydney, 5, is a fruit enthusiast. I blame myself. When Jessica was born, I was the obsessed with nutrition dietitian. My mantra was, Nothing unhealthy ever. But by the time Sydney was born, I relented because I realized that moderation was key: I let Sydney have the occasional sweet treat as long as she consumed something healthy as well.
It is always important to offer children new food choices with their meals. Studies show that children need to be exposed to a new food choice as many as 20 times before they decide if they truly like the food. Its important to provide that choice with a comfortable, or safe food as well.
Below are some enticing ideas for the most challenging of palettes:
Apples Take your children apple picking. With extra apples that are not eaten by the time youre home, you can make your own applesauce. I love to heat up the applesauce, add a little cinnamon and some homemade granola. For those of you who have your own version of Jessica in your family, offer some peanut butter or honey for apple-dipping.
Cauliflower Cauliflower mashed potatoes. If prepared correctly, your potato lover will bite!
Pumpkins Pumpkin muffins, pancakes, bread, to name a few.
Sweet potatoes Baked Sweet potato fries are a favorite in my clan. Just add a little brown sugar or cinnamon to convert the non-believers.
If all else fails, sprinkle a little chocolate on top and watch them fall for your food!
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