Friday, December 17, 2010

Combatting Fear of Veggies

Like I said earlier, Preschoolers are smart, very smart.  They strive for independence and control of their choices.  By their second, third or fourth year they have had limited exposure in many areas, including food.  Their choices continue to develop as they mature  and in the case of food, their menu choices expand. As they are able to bite and chew, new textures are introduced. With the development of fine motor skills, they are able to use a spoon, fork, and knife with ease.

However, as the world of food opens up to them a large majority of kids become anxious, stressed, and suspicious. Trying new foods takes them out of their comfort zone and away from the things they know they like. It represents risk. This was expressed by quite a few children when doing a program called Next Step. This particular exercise was all about how our feelings about things and experiences can change over time.

One Next Step question in particular was about how one feel about eating vegetables. Many kids responded that they are scared of vegetables.  This response surprised me for a moment.  In talking with the kids further, I realized that trying new things is scary for not just kids but for adults also.

Taking baby steps is the key. Eating should be easy, fun, and appealing for both kids and parents—not stressful. I call this Eating Education.

The first two steps in Eating Education is to explore what foods look like and how they can be eaten.

When I showed kids a potato, I was shocked to find that many of them did not previously know what a potato looked like and some even thought it was a peanut. The connection between the potato and the potato becoming french fries , hash, browns or mashed was a lesson that needed to be learned or reinforced.

Together, we prepared some much loved french fries, the healthy way: on a rack using Idaho potatoes, red bliss potatoes, yukon gold and sweet potatoes. This recipe (link) is as delicious as it is healthy.

Explore healthy, easy-to-prepare recipes on the show Doggity's. Doggity and his canine friends make preparing healthy foods fun. Kids can’t resist these dog gone good snacks and meals!

Healthy Fries Recipe
2 medium or one large potato (white, and/or sweet)
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
pepper to taste

1. Cut potatoes into any shapes and sizes desired, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. 

2. Place potatoes into large mixing bowl, add spices, and then oil. Toss with your hands and rub potatoes to coat with oil.  If a little more oil is needed pour into cap of oil bottle and drizzle over potatoes and continue to coat each potato with your hands.

3. Place a wire rack over a flat baking pan and lay potatoes in single layer (not touching).

4. Bake in preheated 450°F oven for 20-25 minutes.

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