The Parent Notebook September October 2012 : Page 26

Vegetable Preparatio Getting Your BY MERYL BRANDWEIN RD/LDN HEALTHY KIDS T here is no question that children need to eat their vegetables. Stud-ies indicate, however, that the majority of children and adolescents are consuming less than half of the daily recommendations of fruits and vege-tables. The United States Department of Agriculture (UDSA) recommends that adolescents and adults consume five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables daily, equal to approximate-ly 2-1/2--6 cups. For a person eating approximately 2000 calories per day this would be about 4-1/2 cups daily. Younger children, ages 6 and under, should be consuming a minimum of 2 cups of vegetables and one cup of fruit each day, although if you look at your child’s daily menu, this requirement most likely is not being met. Although we know that children should be eating their fruits and veggies, the toughest piece of this puzzle is getting them to actually put them in their mouths. What is it about vegetables that children don’t like? Generally, it’s that bitter flavor which most children dislike about vegetables. While this “taste” perception is generally an inherited trait, meaning, whatever you like to eat, you’ll serve, we cannot just blame DNA for our dislike of vegetables. Research indicates that across cultures people generally prefer sweet-tasting foods over bitter-tasting ones. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, as sweetness is associated with foods that provide energy needed for survival such is the case with mother’s milk. Vegetables’ bitterness, texture and odd appearance often proves to deter its consumption. The fact is that many healthy phyto-chemicals, vitamins and antioxidants are found in such bitter vegetables from broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale to arugula. There is hope however. Adding in sweeter foods, cooking them in such a way as to bring out their natural sweet-ness, or adding strong spices such as salt, chili, ginger and garlic, can temper the food and make it more pleasing to the palate. As children transition from infancy to toddlers, from toddlers to preschoolers, 26 T HE P ARENT N OTEBOOK M AGAZINE | Back to School 2012

Getting More Vegetables In Your Child’s Diet

Meryl Brandwein RD/LDN

There is no question that children need to eat their vegetables. Studies indicate, however, that the majority of children and adolescents are consuming less than half of the daily recommendations of fruits and vegetables. The United States Department of Agriculture (UDSA) recommends that adolescents and adults consume five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables daily, equal to approximately 2-1/2-- 6 cups. For a person eating approximately 2000 calories per day this would be about 4-1/2 cups daily. Younger children, ages 6 and under, should be consuming a minimum of 2 cups of vegetables and one cup of fruit each day, although if you look at your child's daily menu, this requirement most likely is not being met.

Although we know that children should be eating their fruits and veggies, the toughest piece of this puzzle is getting them to actually put them in their mouths. What is it about vegetables that children don't like? Generally, it's that bitter flavor which most children dislike about vegetables. While this "taste" perception is generally an inherited trait, meaning, whatever you like to eat, you'll serve, we cannot just blame DNA for our dislike of vegetables. Research indicates that across cultures people generally prefer sweet-tasting foods over bittertasting ones. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, as sweetness is associated with foods that provide energy needed for survival such is the case with mother's milk. Vegetables' bitterness, texture and odd appearance often proves to deter its consumption.

The fact is that many healthy phytochemicals, vitamins and antioxidants are found in such bitter vegetables from broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale to arugula. There is hope however. Adding in sweeter foods, cooking them in such a way as to bring out their natural sweetness, or adding strong spices such as salt, chili, ginger and garlic, can temper the food and make it more pleasing to the palate.

As children transition from infancy to toddlers, from toddlers to preschoolers, From elementary to middle school and beyond, eating patterns are developed. The rules generally are given through the caregiver. Adults teach children the how's and why's of eating, including positive and negative experiences. For example, "Finish your vegetables or you cannot go play on your computer," usually creates a negative food association. Bribing children with food tends to reinforce the negative associations with that respective food.

Research has shown that parents who eat lots of fruits and vegetables generally have children who eat vegetables as well; whereas parents who do not consume plenty of fruits and vegetables have children who have lower intakes of the same. Additionally, it takes between 10-15 tastes before a child will learn to appreciate a new flavor. Bottom line: if you want your family to eat a healthier diet, you must set a good example and show them how to do it.

Teaching children how to develop a taste for vegetables can be a daunting task for any parent. Here are some ideas to help with practical, effective implementation:

(Basic vegetables typically on the grocery list include red bell peppers, baby carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, and sugar snap peas.)

Tips for getting these basic veggies into kid's daily diets:

• Have a plate of them waiting on the counter when they arrive home from school or have a small baggie in the car ready while running in between school and activities.

• About 15 minutes before kids wander into the kitchen stating they are hungry, set out a plate of raw veggies and allow them to munch on them.

• Having hummus, guacamole, salsa or homemade dips are a great accompaniment that helps make the vegetables more palatable for children.

In addition to those basic veggies listed above it is important to get the vegetables listed below into their diets as well. These vegetables provide necessary vitamins, minerals and fiber and contain nutrients that strengthen our bodies and help them grow in a healthy way. Below are ways to sneak them in gradually.

• Pesto's made from vegetable combinations such as arugula and parsley, or sundried tomato, artichoke and spinach, can be spread on wraps or used for dipping.

• Cut or chop greens such as kale, collards, spinach, swiss chard and the like, finely. It should look similar to parsley when chopped. You can then add this to sauces such as marinara, meat mixtures such as meatballs, meatloaf, chili, and tacos. Kids may see the green slightly, but they won't be able to taste the bitter flavor associated with these deep greens.

• Cut vegetables in small pieces and add them to soups. Vegetables such as carrots, turnips, parsnips, and celery can be added to soups and even pureed a bit so as to hide them.

• Creating purees from vegetables such as sguash, for example, are great ways to add nutrition and flavor without anyone knowing it's there. Steam sguash (if its zucchini be sure to peel it or it will turn your mixture green, and that may be a turn off) then puree it with flax milk or coconut milk and add to any sauce, or meat mixture. Steamed butternut sguash is another great option that sweetens up many dishes such as mixing in with macaroni and cheese.

• Cauliflower that is steamed can be added to mashed potatoes.

• White beans can also be added to Mac and Cheese or any other dish that has a "white" sauce.

Vegetables in the cabbage family, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are all high in Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Vitamin B6, Calcium and important anti cancer properties and can be paired well with:

• Bacon (turkey with no nitrates or sulfites) Brand: Willshire Farms or Applegate Farms

• Toasted nuts and Seeds: Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts, Sunflower, Sesame and Pumpkin

• Creamy sauces: Lowfat versions of cheese cream sauce, or cream sauce made from nuts.

• Don't over-cook. It depletes the nutritional benefit and makes the veggies mushy and unpleasant.

Dark leafy greens: kale, collard greens, swiss chard, dandelion greens, arugula are all high in iron, antioxidants and carotenoids and can be paired with:

• Flavorssuchaslemonorlimejuice

• Vinegars: champagne, apple cider, rice wine or balsamic are good choices

• Creamy dressings or sauces (see Recipe)

• Rich flavorful cheeses

Adding one item to your menu weekly, biweekly or each month will strengthen your child's nutrient intake, as well as broaden his/her palate. With school well underway, offering your child the proper nutrients to build a stronger immune system may keep him/her in the classroom.

Meryl Brandwein, a Registered Dietitian/Licensed Nutritionist and specializes in Functional Integrative Nutrition Therapy and Food Sensitivities testing. Www.merylb.com

Did you Know?

• That KALE is the most nutrient dense green leafy vegetable around? And that it aids in blood clotting, promotes vision and retinal function and fights cancer?

• That SPINACH improves our red blood cell function, strengthens bones, regulates heart rate, blood pressure and combats free radicals?

• That COLLARD GREENS lower LDL cholesterol, regulates blood sugar and combats osteoporosis, and boosts our immune system?

Looks like it's time to get them in our diet

Read the full article at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/Getting+More+Vegetables+In+Your+Child%E2%80%99s+Diet/1153668/123701/article.html.

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