What’s To Eat?

Nutrition is a hot trending topic amongst all ages. Eating healthy is being discussed everywhere and that’s a good thing. However it can be overwhelming with the wealth of information that is dispersed through social media. A person must also decide what truly is legit versus someone’s opinion.

We know it is beneficial to eat healthy but why isn’t this life style adopted by many? Here are some popular reasons: Many people feel they have a busy lifestyle that does not allow them the extra time to prepare and sit down to enjoy the healthy meal, there is a wide availability of unhealthy foods that are convenient, consumer advertising spends billions of dollars a year on unhealthy foods, lastly it costs more or doesn’t satisfy their taste buds.

The reasons listed can be validated to a certain extent but if you place a priority on your health and your child’s, then eating healthy should be part of it too. Nutrition is very important to all, especially with children because it is directly linked to all aspects of their growth and development; factors which will have a direct ties to their level of health. You will also promote a better quality of life if you instill healthy eating habits early on in your child. The final reason is simply because children don’t know enough on their own to naturally choose to eat well.

At Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool, we promote healthy eating habits for our young students. We realize we are working from the ground up with our student to develop crucial lifelong skills that will hopefully stick with them as adults. Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool sees this opportunity as a special benefit to help alongside with the parents to help their child grow in all areas of development.

In our preschools, we do “family meal style.” Children enjoy the experience of serving themselves. Family meal style can really empower children to be more willing to try new foods. Personally, I find this to be true with my own children when we do family meal style at home. Our teachers sit and eat with the students while engaging them in meaningful conversations. Making the time to sit as a family at the dinner table at home is vital in a child’s life. This is where they learn their eating habits.

So how does one begin to make the change? Here are some helpful tips:

  1. You want to create a weekly meal plan. Pick one day that you can allow some time for you to research nutritious recipes and make a grocery list. Stick with your list, you’ll find you save money if you stick to what’s on your list and you won’t be tempted by the items on the ends of the aisles or by the cash register. If you can plan for at least five days of meals during the week, give yourself the weekends to indulge a little in some of your favorite restaurants. After you and your family have adopted healthy eating for several weeks, you’ll find your stomach telling you it doesn’t care for the unhealthy foods anymore.
  2. Look at the week ahead. When picking meals, look at your calendar and consider what’s going on during the week. On busier days, you may want to use your slow cooker to help with time.
  3. Let each family member have a say. Each family member has a favorite food that you can take into considerations when planning your meals. When offering a new food, make sure to serve two other sides you know your family enjoys. Theme nights are also a fun way to incorporate your meal plan such as: Mondays are Mexican night, Italian night on Tuesdays, etc.
  4. Ensure a balanced nutrition. Aim for meals that are made with unsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil, nuts and avocados. Make sure to include lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  5. Incorporate simplifying techniques like making sure you don’t make too many complicated dishes at once. Also pre-prep foods the night before or that morning if time allows. The key is to do most of the work ahead of time so the preparation is easy.

I wanted to share a few yummy and nutritious snacks you can make at home.

Applesauce Bits:

Pour natural unsweetened applesauce into a zip-lock bag and cut a tip off of one end. Pour little dots onto wax paper and freeze. This makes for yummy delicious treat for all ages including infants on soft foods.

Frozen Yogurt Blueberries

Dip fresh blueberries in Greek yogurt (your choice on flavor) and freeze on wax paper. Enjoy after an hour and half.

Ants on a Log

Ants on a Log is a classic favorite snack for children. Rinse celery and dry. Cut celery into two pieces and fill with natural peanut butter or soy butter. Add a few raisins to the butter spread and enjoy.

 Pumpkin Power:

Next time a recipe leaves you with half of a can of pumpkin, don’t throw it away. Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A and fiber. You can freeze it or use in some quick snacks:

Oatmeal: swirl 2 tbsps. of pumpkin, 1 tbsp. of brown sugar and a dash of pumpkin pie spice into the oatmeal serving.

Hummus: Stir together equal parts pumpkin and hummus. Scoop with pita chips.

Milkshake: Blend 2 cups of low fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, ¼ cup of canned pumpkin, a dash of pumpkin pie spice and a ¼ cup of milk (or milk alternative such as almond milk).

Adding pumpkin to your favorite chili or tomato sauce recipe ramps up nutrition with minimal change to the flavor. Your family will never know!

Almost Green Smoothie


Veggie Oat Muffins


Heather Wilson

Program Director-Ozark