The recession stinks. But, one of the good things that can come out of all those budget cuts is a chance for your children to get more home cooking. Not only is dinner time around the table a great time for bonding with children, but cooking at home means that you have more control over your children’s nutrition. Childhood obesity is a major problem in the United States and making dinners and lunches at home is a great way to monitor the health of your child. But, it is also important to cook things that kids will actually eat. Luckily, those two things can go hand in hand. By making small substitutions in your cooking methods, you can significantly increase the nutritional value of your meals.
- Not all fat is created equal.
- Grains and rice.
- Cut down on sugar.
- Low fat dairy
- Portion size
Now that you are armed with some good tools on how to cook for your family, check out some of these online cooking videos to find out what to cook. Introducing your children to new foods is a great way to set up healthy eating habits. Try throwing in a new recipe every week or so. Children often don’t like things just because they’re new. Don’t be afraid to introduce something a couple of times and always put everything on their plate even if they say they don’t want it. They may change their minds when they see everyone else chowing down. And, with my kids, withholding desert, or saving the meal until the next time they complain that they are hungry is a great way to get them over their initial stubborn streak.
This isn’t necessarily a substitution, but it is still an important change. I went to a nutritionist a few years ago to help me lose weight and change my eating habits. When we sat down and talked about appropriate portion size, I was shocked to discover how much of our daily recommended calories my children and I were eating in a single meal. Check out this article at Meals Matter for some tips on appropriate serving sizes. They compare a serving of fruits and vegetables to a woman’s fist, a serving of cheese to six dice, etc. This has helped me out a lot.. I used to love string cheese as a child, but those fun little tubes are chock-full of unnecessary fat and milk sugar. Switching to a lower fat options when you buy cheese, milk and yogurt is a good way to cut down on the amount of fat that your kids ingest. Only one of my kids noticed the switch in his string cheese. But, I let him know that I had been cooking with it for months without him even noticing and he quickly got used to it. Most parents know that candy and soda are made with unnecessary amounts of high-fructose corn syrup which is full of empty calories. Not to mention it makes kids sugar-crazy. But must juices have just as much, if not more, sugar than soda. Make it a habit of checking the sugar content of the apple and orange juice that you buy for your family (and cut down on juice boxes that are not only full of sugar, but dyes and chemicals as well). More natural juices with no added sugar is better for your family. Or, invest in a juicer. Not only will you save money on bottled juice, but you can ensure that your children are getting all the nutrients that fresh juice can provide.Pasta and rice are easy to cook, and kids love them. But white rice and pasta is made from refined grains. Refined means that all of the nutritional parts have been taken off, and all you’re left with is starch and sugar. Try switching over to brown rice and pasta. They contain fiber, vitamin B and other nutrients. They aid in digestion and, unlike their white counterparts, they don’t cause the high spikes in blood sugar that cause you to feel like you’re hungry when you’re not. Your kids may protest in the beginning because it looks different. But putting your foot down now will establish good eating habits that they will take with them for the rest of their lives.I grew up eating things cooked with butter but I quickly learned that there are much better, and equally tasty, options out there that are better for my family. Olive oil is now my standard choice for cooking. Used in limited amounts, it is a good source of unsaturated fat that works well with cooking. Sesame oil, sunflower oil and other plant oils also make great cooking options and can add flavor to your meals. But just because its healthier doesn’t mean that you can go crazy. Too much of any type of fat is a no-no.