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Whole Gourmet Natural Cooking

Alison Anton's Natural Cooking Blog offers healthy recipes, inspirational food articles and culinary advice for the natural chef, and features dessert recipes from her upcoming cookbook, Desserts for Every Body.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Kid-Friendly Kitchen

Imagine allowing your kids to eat anything in the kitchen that they wanted. In most kitchens, kids find overly processed commercial foods that contain refined white flours, partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. But what if you had a healthy, kid-friendly kitchen and promoted healthy food attitudes and good eating habits?

Rersearch shows that children are naturally born with good control over their food intake -- they eat when they're hungry and don’t when they're not. When they want to skip dinner, it's usually because they've come home from school hungry and have been munching on who knows what in the afternoon. Giving them an afternoon snack that is both healthy and satisfying can help tremendously, and will keep the snowball effect from forcing and bribing them to eat dinner from rolling too far.

Most kids will get their appetites going for dinner if they have a part in the planning and preparation of a meal. It gets them excited, even proud, about what they've created and the choices they made. They now have a vested interest in eating it!

Having them choose between 1-3 kinds of foods can help foster self-esteem by giving them a role to play. For example, “Would you like carrots, corn or beets for our vegetable tonight?” This gives them a certain boundary, yet enables them to choose for themselves from what has been offered. Even a two-year-old can decide between carrots and beets!

A healthy kid-friendly kitchen might have easily accessible jars filled with nuts and seeds, sweet dried fruits, popcorn and other yummy snacks at arm's reach. You would find whole grain breads and cereals, healthy cookies or muffins and an easy to grab bowl of fresh seasonal fruits. Carrot and celery sticks with nut butters or hummus might be found on the bottom shelf in the fridge.

Take a walk through your own kitchen, looking in the cupboards and pantry. Read the ingredients lists. Do you feel okay with your kids grabbing and eating the foods that you see? If you don't feel okay with your kids running amok through the kitchen eating the foods that are there, then maybe a revamp of your pantry is in order.

I know it's always easier to say than do when it comes to feeding kids, but starting off with these few tips will help. So let them eat!

Recommended cookbooks:
Healthy Food for Healthy Kids, Bridget Swinney
Healthy Cooking for Kids, Shelly Null

Oatmeal Pecan Pancakes
Makes 10-12 medium cakes

1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Combine the milk and oats in a large bowl and let stand 10 minutes. Add the oil and beaten eggs, mixing well. Stir in the flour, maple syrup, baking powder and salt. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Don’t over-mix. Fold in the pecans. Bake on a hot, lightly oiled griddle, using 1/4 cup of batter for each cake. Turn when top is bubbly and edges are slightly dry.

Bowl o' Crunch
Healthy Cooking for Kids

Healthy? Maybe not top of the list, but this quick snack fix is satisfying and offers alternatives in the same bowl as the traditional favorite... potato chips.

1 handful baked potato chips
1 handful baked blue corn chips
1 cup popped corn
1 handful mini-rice cakes or crackers
1 handful pretzels

Mix all the treats in a large bowl and serve. Great for lunch boxes too!


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