Posted on March 15, 2019 at 4:37 PM
Packing your preschooler’s lunch can be time-consuming — and confusing. What should they be eating every day to make sure they are getting enough nutrients to help their growing body?
It’s important parents make the right decisions. The American Academy of Pediatrics says preschoolers should be eating the same foods as the rest of the family. And that all meals should have nutritional value.
“Children pick up habits from what they see and hear,” says Nicola Graimes, author of “Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook.” “Eating together is a good way to encourage good eating habits – if they see you eating up your veggies then they are more likely to as well.”
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that parents should:
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers this sample menu for a 4-year-old (weighing approximately 36 pounds):
Parents should follow the USDA MyPlate guidelines but remember not to take away the fun that can come with mealtime.
“Encouraging children to be involved in all aspects of mealtimes can help them be better eaters,” Graimes says. “Food shopping, whether it be in a supermarket, farmers market, or health food shop can be a voyage of discovery and add a fun element to eating. Often the connection between shopping and what is on the plate is enough to encourage a taste.”
Graimes also suggests to parents to get their kids involved in cooking, even if it’s only to weigh, stir, roll-out or mix. “Start simply with dishes such as healthy sandwich fillings, salads, tortilla rolls, simple sushi or veggie sticks and dips,” she says.
And with fruits and vegetables a big part of a healthy preschooler diet, Graimes adds that since there are so many different types to try — fresh, frozen, tinned or dried — “you can’t go wrong if they eat a combination of different-colored fruit and veggies.”
Here are two fun recipes, courtesy of of Nicola Graimes:
Melon Fruit Bowl
This colorful dessert is packed with the tasty goodness of fresh fruit. Best of all, you can eat the “bowl” afterwards!
1/2 large cantaloupe melon
1-1 1/2 cups of fruit, such as apricots, grapes (halved), plums, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, slices of nectarine, peach, orange, apple or kiwi
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Melon baller or spoon
Large mixing bowl
Roasted Vegetable Pasta
Roasting vegetables is a great way to make them sweet and melt-in-your mouth tasty, without losing their nutrients.
1 large zucchini
1 large red onion
6 cloves garlic (whole)
1 large red pepper (de-seeded)
3 tablespoons olive oil
12 cherry tomatoes
3 cups dry pasta spirals or tubes*
4 tablespoons low-fat sour cream or creme fraiche
2/3 cup mature cheddar cheese (grated)
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
Salt and pepper
Small sharp knife
Small mixing bowl
Food Facts: Red, green and yellow peppers are bursting with vitamin C and are great for healthy skin, teeth and bones. Red peppers have an extra benefit — they contain higher amounts of beta-carotene, which is good for fighting viruses.
Recipes are excerpted from Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook reprinted by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2007 by Nicola Graimes. Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited
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