I'm taking an online course this week about childhood nutrition (and you can too, if you'd like, through Coursera). I am thankful that I grew up with a mom who not only cooked meals for us but also taught me how to cook. While I already know many of the things covered in the course, a few new ideas did jump out at me, and here they are:
1. Serve your meal in courses- start with the vegetables. This guarantees that while they're still really hungry, they'll get a chance to fill their bellies with veges before other food groups.
2. Plan your meals around vegetables. Start with knowing what vegetables you're going to cook, and then plan the rest of your meal around them.
In our family, I typically plan meals around the protein I'm going to cook. We always have lots of vegetables and fruits with our meals, but they're more of an after-thought. For example, tonight I tried out a new recipe- Greek Stuffed Chicken Thighs, because I wanted to send it to a client and thought I should try it out first. It was a busy night though, so by the time I got through making that and getting it into the oven I had to run down to pick up my first son from his after-school sport. When I got home, dinner was ready, and we were starving. So I piled up raw carrots, snap peas, apples, and oranges on our plates. Were they good? Yes. Would something else have been tastier? I think so. I had a Greek-inspired stir fry in mind to try, and my first son was disappointed there were no roasted potatoes to go with dinner.
It's going to take some time to learn to re-think the way I plan dinner. I'll try to make a meal or 2 a week with these changes, but old habits die hard. Do we eat well, generally speaking? Healthy, balanced, lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean proteins? Usually. I've been much more adventurous in the cooking department over the last year, and my family (and sometimes friends) are my guinea pigs. Most of the time they're thrilled with what I make...although I was the only one who enjoyed dinner today, mostly because the spinach was too overt and the feta too strong a flavour for my sons.
How do you encourage a diet high in fruits and vegetables?