I think a lot of parents worry about the eating habits of their children. It's one of the things in a long list of things we worry about. I recently attended a presentation about nutrition for school aged children. The Registered Dietitian offered strategies to build healthy eating habits, and she also told us something that kind of blew my mind: They don't have to eat everything on their plate. In fact they don't have to try everything on their plate. I'm an "eat your dinner" kind of lady, and I've been known to insist on finishing certain vegetables- who doesn't love roasted Brussels sprouts? The theory is that you put one "favorite" food on their plate (for Wylie this is pasta), one lean protein, and two small vegetable options. You say what's on their plate, they say what they'll eat. This is giving up a lot of power right? It helps them develop healthy attitudes towards eating, and keeps your relationship with them and food non-adversarial. Sounds good.
Another tip that stuck with me, was the RD's advice about limiting snacking between meals, so that kids are more likely to eat the balanced meals that we present them. Unfortunately, this practice doesn't really work for us, because my kids are crazy bottomless pits. On school days they seem to become ravenously hungry around 4:30pm, well before a normal dinner time. I've started giving them an "appetizer" to tide them over until the main meal. Because eating a little right before a dinner might fill them up, I try to offer them "favorite" snacks that are pretty balanced themselves. I thought I'd offer a couple of go-to ideas from our kitchen. One is simple and delicious...apples and peanut butter (also my go-to late night snack). The other is a super easy to make lemony- hummus. You probably already have the ingredients to make it in your kitchen right now. Check out the recipe below.
1 can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 clove garlic
Combine ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
This recipe does not use tahini, a key ingredient in middle eastern hummus. My kids like this version because it isn't as bitter.