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Healthy Eating for the Family

Vanessa T.
VANESSA T.
Pediatric Dietitian
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Need some pointers in the kitchen? Want to spice up your family's meals? We've got you covered, whether you're a culinary conniseur or an amateur chef. Led by Tinyhood Registered Dietitian, Vanessa Thornton.

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VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Breakfast options w/veggies
SUSAN, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD, 20 MONTH OLD

My almost two year old son is always happy and excited to eat in the mornings vs the rest of the day’s meals. What are some healthy breakfast options I could make my family that have vegetables and protein?

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Susan,
Great idea! We so often think of dinner as the time eat veggies, but really any time of day is good!

My favorite breakfast option is egg bakes in muffin tins. Mix 12 eggs and chopped veggies like peppers, mushrooms and spinach in a bowl with a splash of milk, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into 12 lightly greased muffin tin cups and bake for about 10 minutes at 350or until cooked through. You can serve 1-2 muffins for breakfast. They also freeze well so you can make ahead!

Breakfast burritos with veggies and scrambled eggs also work well. You can roll them in tortillas and tinfoil, then store in the fridge for a couple of days.

Avocado toast is another good option- just smash 1/4-1/3 of an avocado on and spoon on top of a slice of wheat toast. Top with salt, peppers or even more veggies!

If you’re looking for a sweeter option, pull out the blender and make smoothies. Combine fruits like strawberries, a banana and/or blueberries with Greek yogurt. Add a handful of spinach and/or kale for an extra boost of nutrients. Add milk and blend to your desired consistency. If your son doesn’t like smoothies, try freezing in a popsicle mold for a fun treat!

If your son likes savory food, there’s no rule
That says you have to eat “breakfast foods” in the morning. Hummus and veggies or a veggie and cheese sandwich are great options,too.

SUSAN

These are amazing ideas! Thank you! Can’t wait to try them 😊

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Texture aversion?
AMANDA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD, 2 YEAR OLD

My 6 year old daughter doesn't like to eat meat. She will sit and chew the same piece of meat for 15 minutes, and when she finally decides to swallow it, she gags it down. I don't force her to eat it, but I always encourage her to take a bite. The only proteins she gets are from eggs and peanut butter. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can incorporate more protein into her diet without her suffering through chewing meat?

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Amanda,

I'm glad to hear you are encouraging but not forcing your daughter to try meat. It is so important to stay positive when talking with kids about food-- even if you're frustrated!

A few questions if you want to explore this further: is meat the only food she gags on? How is it prepared? Has she always struggled with texture or is this a new development?

The good news is that 6 year old girls need only about 20-25 grams of protein per day. One egg has 6 grams and a tablespoon of peanut butter has 4 grams. There is also protein in a lot of other foods including grains (pasta, bread, etc), cheese, nuts, soy, beans and even some fruits and vegetables.

I would work on expanding your daughter's food repertoire to include more protein- containing foods. Try beans and rice for dinner one night or tofu instead of meat in a dish ( I know some adults find tofu to be "weird", but I've had lots of kids try and love it!). You can roast chickpeas to add to salads or pastas. Try offering hummus, cheese or guacamole with veggies or crackers for snacks. Include a glass of nonfat or lowfat milk or yogurt with meals (8-12 grams per serving!) and you can easily reach her protein needs without meat.

You can also try offering animal proteins prepared to different textures. If she prefers soft food, try tuna, egg or chicken salad. Fish is also agreeable for kids who struggle with chewy proteins. Try preparing beef or chicken in a crock pot or as a stew instead of grilled. If she likes crunchy or harder foods, try leaner cuts of beef cooked for a short time with high heat. Bread chicken with panko crumbs for some extra crunch or offer shrimp as your protein.

Whatever your approach, remember that 1/2 of your dinner plates should be full of veggies while 1/4 should be grains (whole grain is best!) and 1/4 should be a protein (animal or otherwise). Most people think of meat as the main feature to a meal, but really it should take a backseat and let veggies take the lead. If you think of it this way, it will take the pressure off of her relationship with meat and help your entire family to enjoy balanced, healthy meals!

AMANDA

This has been going on since she was a toddler.
I just assumed she would grow out of it. Normally we grill or bake our meats. I'm going to start looking into crockpot recipes. I personally don't eat seafood, so she hasn't been introduced to that yet. I'll see how she feels about it. Thank you for the advice!

Vanessa
VANESSA

Sounds like a good plan! Let me know if you need anything else.