Wholesome Child : Wholesome Child full
111 110 ➏ SHOP FOR VEGETABLES TOGETHER Encourage your little ones to touch, smell and engage with their food. Let them help with grocery shopping. Encourage them to pick up a carrot, an apple or a zucchini from the shelf and place it in the basket or trolley themselves – this begins the engagement with the new food. Can they put the dish or new veggie onto the table for the family? Don’t be disappointed if they don’t eat the new food the first time it’s offered – stay positive and freeze what is not eaten and offer it again – repetition is key here. ➐ COOK VEGETABLES TOGETHER Children love to eat what they have helped to prepare, and it is important for them to be exposed to vegetables in their raw state and understand how the texture and look of a vegetable changes when it’s cooked. Let them help by peeling carrots and potatoes (look for kid-friendly graters), cutting lettuce with a plastic lettuce knife, pouring beans into soups, adding grated zucchini into the muffin batter or grated carrot into the bolognaise. How to buy organic without breaking the bank I would recommend buying organic vegetables whenever you can. Increase variety by looking for organic flash-frozen vegetables in the freezer section. Studies have frequently shown that organic vegetables have higher antioxidant activity (between 19% and 69%). Babies and young children have lower levels of the enzymes needed to detoxify pesticide chemicals from their bodies, compared to adults. Their developing brains and nervous systems are also more vulnerable to chemicals than adults. The consumption of pesticides and other chemicals at an early age therefore may have a detrimental impact to their long-term health. A visit to your local farmer’s market is a better option than the supermarket as locally grown seasonal vegetables often contain fewer pesticides. Often, while they might not carry the ’certified organic’ label, some vegetables sold at farmer’s markets are organically grown. of the disliked vegetable was low. However, by the time they had sampled it seven or eight times, surprisingly over 70% of these children not only accepted the previously spurned vegetable, but really liked it - readily eating as much of it as their other favourite veggies. Raw vs Cooked: Is there a nutritional difference? A veggie in its raw state is the most nutritious choice because the enzymes, vitamins and phytonutrients are intact, right? Not always. Some vegetables are actually healthier when cooked, as applying heat increases the levels of some nutrients by breaking down the cell walls of the plant, releasing the nutrients contained within. Roasting can boost a carrot’s levels of beta-carotene by over 30%. This key antioxidant supports our night vision, guards against heart disease, several cancers (bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, esophagus) and is a particularly potent lung protector. Another great example is steamed spinach which has higher levels of lutein, an antioxidant that helps prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Heating Popeye’s favourite veggie can also help your child absorb more calcium. Spinach is also more compact when cooked, so your child gets more nutrients per mouthful. Lightly cooking vegetables such as capsicum, broccoli and cauliflower can also be easier to digest for some children. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO COOK VEGGIES? The method you use can make a big difference in how many vitamins and minerals your child ultimately gets from his vegetables. High temperatures can diminish some of the vitamins and minerals by 15-30%, with boiling being the biggest culprit, so avoid boiling vegetables. Steaming until crisp-tender is the most nutritious way to prepare vegetables, as this methods retains most of the vegetable’s natural liquids. Sautéing and grilling are also good options. And remember, roasting vegetables is a great way to get rid of their bitter taste. WHAT ABOUT FERMENTING VEGETABLES? The lactobacilli in fermented vegetables, such as pickled cucumbers, carrots or sauerkraut, enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. Numerous helpful enzymes are produced as well as antibiotic and anti- carcinogenic substances. These bacteria promote the growth of healthy bacteria or flora Farmer’s markets are also usually more affordable than supermarkets, and make a fun outing with the kids. We all know that buying organic produce can be costly. So to understand when it’s worth the extra dollars, it pays to be informed which produce contain the highest pesticide residue levels and make your organic choices accordingly. Look at the Environmental Working Group’s ’Dirty Dozen and Clean List’ of fruit and vegetables: www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php. This website contains a list of the most popular fresh produce items, and ranks these by ’cleanest’ to ’dirtiest.’ The produce listed as ’dirty’ are hard to clean, and even when washed and scrubbed, still contain significant amounts of pesticide residue. Note: although the data on the EWG website is compiled by the US Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration, there is a considerable overlap with Australian produce, as Australian commercial farming practices closely correlate to those in the USA. BEST TO CHOOSE ORGANIC: Celery (64 different pesticides applied) Capsicum (49 different pesticides applied) Spinach (48 different pesticides applied) Potatoes (37 different pesticides applied) Kale Lettuce Cucumber OKAY TO CHOOSE NON-ORGANIC: Onions Avocado Asparagus Peas Cabbage Eggplant Broccoli Mushrooms Sweet potato Corn (as long as it is labelled non-GMO) Consider this... If your child is still a baby or a young toddler, you may be able to use repetition to your advantage when it comes to adding new vegetables to the menu. Don’t give up if your child protests. In one study, researchers identified mothers who had given up after their babies rejected a particularly protested vegetable on two or three occasions. The mothers were then asked to offer this same disliked vegetable, every second day for two weeks, at first the baby’s intake throughout our intestines. Start slowly when offering to your child, 1 tablespoon per mealtime is adequate. See our recipe for a great child-friendly Fermented Carrot Sticks on my website, www.wholesomechild.com.au. So why won’t kids eat veggies? We are born with a natural predisposition to prefer sweet and salty flavours, and to reject bitter or sour tastes. Nature intended it to be this way to protect us when we were hunters and gatherers, helping us stay away from poisonous bitter plants. Although toddlers may start loathing any food, vegetables tend to take the biggest hit. Here’s a few common reasons why: 1. No predictability Of course there is no predictability when it comes to vegetables. A local seasonal carrot can be delicious and sweet. A carrot that has been imported or has been in cold storage for a few months may have an entirely different consistency and not be as sweet. An experience with a bitter carrot can easily turn a child off carrots for good. Visually, they do not appear the same either. My son is an avid veggie eater, but will turn his nose up at the sight of a brown spot in a favoured veggie. And if you are buying organic, you will know that nature does not always turn out the best looking produce. 2. Too many sweet foods too early on One of the leading nutritional causes of fussy eating happens when children are exposed to sugar too early, as it alters their sweet taste receptors. If a young child’s developing taste buds are exposed to too many sweet foods too often, they develop a preference for that kind of food and will fail to appreciate the natural sweetness of vegetables. Goal 3: INSPIRE AND MODEL 1. PERSEVERE Because we know human beings are genetically predisposed to enjoy sweet foods and reject bitter ones from a young age, it’s important to make the effort to offer our children vegetables in their natural state over and over again. Repeated exposure to veggies from as early on as possible is the best way to avoid fussy eating. Always give your child a chance to experience the true flavour of foods, even in the face of 111 step 3: increase vegetables Did you know? Thanks to its thick skin, the cleanest produce with the least amount of pesticides is avocado. Did you know? When ’Parents Magazine’ polled more than 400 readers with children ages 2 to 10, 30% admitted that it’s tougher to convince their kids to eat veggies than to clean up their toys. Consider this Toddlers and young children eat 25% fewer vegetables than babies do despite the fact that they need significantly more based on their size. Tip For older children, add veggie sticks such as cucumber, carrot or capsicum to the lunch box in place of, or alongside fruit. Cut vegetables into thin slices or small enough pieces so that they don’t pose a choking risk to your child.