Kids will often think they dislike a food and ban it from their menu—that is, until they see their friend eating in. Then suddenly it’s all the rage and so delicious. Engaging experiences like this can inspire a child’s taste for healthy foods. Here are my favourite tips for making food fun for kids—and for their parents.

Selection

Let them select the produce themselves. Take your angel shopping with you. Your local farmers’ market is a beautiful place to shop and a rich experience for your children, too.

Choice

Let them chose each meal. Why not? You get to choose what you want for dinner, and children love to do the same. “But he’ll just eat watermelon all day if I let him do that.” …And? So what?  Then watermelon it is. You are there to guide, not to trick or force. Show your children the respect you wish for them to show the world. If you’re worried about them eating too much fruit, refer back to my “Quick Guide to Everything Plant-Based” to set your mind at ease.

Favourites

Keep their favourite foods on hand throughout the day. A few deliciously simple ideas are fresh coconut meat, fresh coconut water, bananas, grapes, apples, and whatever other fruits are in season. Kids love fruit, and it’s the ultimate fast food!

Presentation

Present food in original ways by cutting it into different shapes and sizes. A child may gravitate for a few days, weeks, or months toward a specific shape. For example, when my daughter Ever was younger one week she would like her avocado spoon-fed to her, and then the next week she likes it in cubes on a plate so she can pick it up on her own. If your child doesn’t like their foods mixed, then do not mix them!

Connection

Eat with your children. My favourite times of day are eating and sleeping with my daughter right beside me. Meals are so beautiful when shared in good company, and whose company does your child enjoy more than yours? No one’s. Eat, connect, be silent, laugh, kiss, talk, play. Whatever you both feel is perfect—do that, and do it together over a meal.

Sharing

It’s never too late to learn or teach, so share your process enthusiastically with your family, especially older children. It is fulfilling to improve together, as long as it’s done lovingly. Let teens read what you are reading about nutrition. Help your kids (all ages) see that eating animals is harmful. I often hear teens say they were never taught this at all–at least not in a way that made sense. Share any info you have about the meat, dairy, egg, leather, feather, and wool industries. Improved complexion and body shape could be compelling incentives for teenagers, along with being part of something big. Have you heard about the huge movement of teens going vegan? Inspire your teenager to get in on it.

 

Parenting in the kitchen

 

Co-create family meals as often as possible. Kids love to be involved and it’s never too young to start. Give them tasks in the kitchen so they learn about healthy eating by being part of the process. Ever has been helping me in the kitchen since she was a baby. With her Montessori kitchen utensils, she would help peel potatoes, or just mirror what I was doing. We both enjoyed this bonding experience. Now she chops fruits and veggies and helps blend smoothies, soups, and dips. She taste tests and can tell me if the veggies are cooking up well. Have your little ones stir, chop, mix, blend, or just watch and learn and they will be so much more connected to their food and you. Share their dishes proudly with the rest of the family. Every healthy dish is something to celebrate!

 

Ready, Set, GO…Vegan

 

Steps for preparing your home

  • Stock your home with a variety of produce, especially fresh fruits and raw vegetables.
  • Eliminate all animal products from the home. Give them to the neighbours or whatever it takes. Get em out!
  • Replace meat products with store-bought, pre-made substitutes as needed (ie: bean burger patties)
  • Make your own desserts from nuts and fruits (see recipes at the back of this book)
  • Replace white sugar with coconut sugar, dates, rice syrup
  • Replace white flour with coconut, banana or buckwheat flours
  • Eliminate (or minimize) the use of oils. Instead just use water to fry. Or you can bake, steam, or boil.
  • Replace white flour pasta with a buckwheat or bean pasta
  • Get rid of sweet drinks, soda, and processed fruit drinks.
  • Meal prep is the way to go! Make brown rice, quinoa, and potatoes and have ‘em ready to throw into a quick stew or stir fry. Or slice up raw veggies-ready to grab, snack or throw into a meal.
  • Make jugs of iced herbal tea with any flowery herbal tea or simply lemon and ginger. (Fave-2 hibiscus tea bags left in a 2 litre jug of spring water and a full lemon squeezed. Tastes like cordial and looks beautiful.)  
  • Keep cashews soaking in the fridge ready to make cream or cheese (see recipes)
  • Have raw chickpeas soaking in fridge (use on day 3, change water daily) ready to blend to make hummus

Gradually decrease the unhealthy food options in your home. Your child may not eat much at first. This is difficult for many parents but trust me, a hungry child will eat the nutrient dense food you have set out. Even picky eaters will be fine. Healthful foods are loaded with more nutrients, so even with fewer types of foods, kids feel satiated and are better nourished. As they adjust, their internal hunger messages will lead them to larger portions and more variety of nutrient-rich foods and less desire for non foods. To keep the whole family healthy and prevent medical tragedies, stock your environment with the best that nature has to offer, avoid fast food and eating out in general, and model luscious eating habits at every meal. Make your home a bounty of natural goodness and food will no longer be an issue. Kids can eat as much or little as they need, because all the options will be nourishing. Never limit their fruit and vegetable intake. Never.

This writing has been adapted from my book HEALTHY, SEXY, VEGAN MUMMA. You deserve a copy! Grab it >HERE.

For life,

Donna