Are Your Kids Exposed?
Are they… when was the last time you exposed your kids to new flavors, textures, and colors? Yes, I’m taking food. Being married to a fantastic man who is a self-proclaimed “meat and potatoes” guy, I’m seeing how important it is to expose kids to new foods while they are young. It’s not that odd that my boys are more open to trying new dishes then my husband.
I wanted to get an expert opinion on the importance of food and nutrition. So I turned to Dr. Heather Manley the author of Human Body Detectives, a children’s educational adventure series that teaches kids about their bodies and why they need to take care of themselves.
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Why do you feel it’s important for parents to learn to step out of their own comfort zones and help to expose their kids to new tastes and textures when it comes to food?
Creating balance in everything whether it’s exercising, working, or eating you do is very beneficial for the body. When eating a variety of fruits and vegetables our bodies receive a vast variety of vitamins and minerals and this will support all functions in the body so we can play harder, be more creative, exercise at our full potential and just be healthy.
I also think it is fun for kids to explore new food textures, smells, colors and tastes – they may not give it a try at first but they will remember the visuals and will most likely give it a try next time.
What was your favorite meal growing up?
French toast. I was obsessed with it and became quite creative in using different breads, stuffing the toast and topping it with an array of color.
I’ll admit I’m totally jealous that you get to call Hawaii home; what is your favorite fruit?
There are so many: dragon fruit, star fruit, mangos but papaya and pineapples are probably my top two favorites.
I adore papayas. Unfortunately, Hawaii is a testing ground for genetically modified farming and papayas are the main crop. I make sure I always purchase certified organic papayas; I am supporting organic farmers and protecting our soils.
I also can’t resist pineapples; however, when I lived in Kenya, I ate so many pineapples that I got canker sores in my mouth so I now put the pineapple in a blender with lots of ice cubes. The juice is very refreshing and not so hard on my mouth!
So when you aren’t writing children’s science adventure books what do you fill your time with?
I hike up in the hills with our family dog, Maka. When I am not hiking, I am down at the beach snorkeling, swimming or surfing with the family.
What is your favorite meal to cook for your children?
I have to admit; I am not a fan of being in the kitchen so I am constantly finding ways to make simple nutritious meals that everyone likes. Salmon with roasted asparagus and brown rice is a family favorite and it takes me no time to whip it up.
Do you have something we could take with us to challenge ourselves as we go forth with our spring and summer?
Eat more color!
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The spring and summer are the easiest months to challenge the family on this one. When you are grocery shopping, have the kids look for colorful foods. I find that when kids are allowed to be proactive in family meals, they are more apt to try new foods.
Throw spinach into a banana-berry smoothie or add slices of tomatoes and avocados to an egg dish.
Let the kids use a rainbow of vegetables to dip into humus or a bean dip.
Always put a vegetable on the kid’s plate (as well as yours). Encourage kids – without pressure – to at least try it. I suggest purchasing Green Eggs and Ham as kids might not immediately give new foods a try but eventually they will especially after reading the book a few times.
Make fruit cobblers; it is simple and everyone will love it.
Dr. Heather Manley
I really want to thank Dr. Heather Manley for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. It has inspired us to try a few things to expose us all to new foods.
Our goals this summer are to:
- Get kids more involved with garden to table process
- Try a new dish 1x a week that no one has had before
- Drink smoothies or ‘juices’ on a daily basis
- Keep to our own container garden or local farmer’s market
- Take a family walk after dinner each evening
How will you be ‘exposing’ your kids this spring and summer?
D&G Deal Alert: Heather’s series is now on sale at Teachers pay Teachers. You can also find all of her books on your Kindle or Apple device. Right now my boys are loving Battle with the Bugs: An Imaginative Journey Through the Immune System!
Alaina Frederick, publisher of Dinker & Giggles, loves helping to create a healthy environment for her four boys and husband. Her favorite time of year is winter - trees blanketed with fresh snow, hot cocoa in hand, and a great book completing the package.
Tags: getting kids to eat, kids, organic food, raw food