10 Simple Ways To Add Nutrition to Your Summer
As a Health Coach, I get asked all the time about how I approach my own family’s health.
When it comes to navigating my family’s health we walk season to season. I am both intentional and also reactive to what need arises among us. Having a family of 6 takes time and patience when it comes to accomplishing our own health goals.
As a Health Coach, I divide food into 2 categories: Primary foods and Secondary Foods. Primary foods include our lifestyle, spirituality, rest and relationships while Secondary foods is the actual food and liquid we eat and drink.
During the summer I take off work and focus primarily on my family. Summer is a great time to work on improving their primary foods such as their relationships with each other and us, their relationship with God, their cooking skills as well as helping them learn the importance of rest! I also use summer to look at their secondary foods and add in more nutrients to their diet to give them a boost!
Often, when I am adding more nutrients to my kids routine, it is usually a new food or a food we haven’t had in a while. Each season there are fresh fruits and vegetables to try and Summer is one of my favorite food seasons!
Many of my clients have kids who don’t like change. Many adults I work with don’t like to change their foods. It is so much harder to make food changes at mealtimes, so I always suggest to start with snacks! And that is exactly where we start as a family too!
Here are 10 simple helps I use as I am introducing new foods or add back nutricious foods to my kids routine!
1. Focus on Snacks Rather than Meals
If you find that you are wanting more nutrients in your life but feel overwhelmed about changing your traditional meals, then start eating snacks! I teach my clients how to add to their current routine to “crowd out” some of their existing cravings. When your cravings begin to change you will naturally start shifting your mealtime foods. Changing what we eat to be more healthy doesn’t have to be a crash diet. Our life is a marathon, not a sprint and we should look at our eating habits in the same way. Take steps that will lead you to walking in a healthy way for the long term, not the short term.
2. Replace Crunchy snacks with Crunchy nutrition
What snacks to you like that are crunchy? Chips n Salsa and Popcorn are some favorites in our house! A while back we made a switch with our chips and salsa to make it more nutritious. We switched our corn chips to blue corn NON-GMO chips and started making homemade salsa!
Then we began making our popcorn with NON-GMO corn and coconut oil and put tons of REAL Salt and Kerry Gold butter on it! My kids said it was better than movie popcorn! After we changed that, I began to add “crunchy new things”, like Chickpea crunchy snacks, non-gmo veggie chips or plantain chips! When you are introducing new veggies, try crunchy raw veggies for kids who like crunchy snacks!
Don’t forget nuts and seeds if you aren’t allergic to them! Try adding dairy free chocolate mini chips to a bowl full of nuts or pumpkin seeds and see if they go down better! Start with one switch out a week and see what you end up crunching on at the end of summer!
3. Replace sweet cravings with sweet nutrition
My kids receive new foods so much easier when I can slowly add them into things they already love. If your favorite snacks look more like dessert then start there. Try making your brownies with sweet potatoes or avocados. You can simply add into your current recipe or you can try recipes online like these sweet potato brownies!
You can make a delicious avocado Chocolate pudding or bake some paleo fruit muffins! If you are not a baker, no sweat! Try the “Flax 4 Life” brownie bites and muffins, they are delicious!! You can also try sweeter veggies and fruits. Don’t ask them to try bitter or salty Kale chips.
Carrots, Parsnips and sweet potatoes are a great place to start as well! In the summer, take advantage of the Organic berries! They have a lower sugar content and are so so yummy! When you eat a strawberry, consider eating the whole thing!
Yes, green stem and all!
The only reason why we cut it off is because of tradition passed down which had more to do with cooking them or making a “flag cake” than it did with nutrition. Get extra greens in by popping a whole strawberry in your mouth! Also, Try Cherries, Pineapple, bananas and Peaches!
Summer is great for trying sweeter fruits! We love to freeze our grapes in the summer! They taste just like a grape popsicle! And black, red and green grapes are all available in the summer! Try it! You will love them all!
You can also cook your veggies and add local raw honey or fry in coconut oil to add a sweeter taste! If you get a few sweeter veggies and fruits down by the end of the summer, you may find them asking for it when school starts!
4. Add Food Helps to Your Veggies
When a raw veggie is just not tasting good to our Stewart Littles, we try dips. Hummus, homemade salsas, mustard, aioli, homemade salad dressings, guacamole or organic ketchup are some of our favorites!
We also like to add bacon, grass fed Butter or Organic or raw milk cheese! Bacon wrapped carrots or asparagus, or melted grass-fed butter poured over raw veggies makes them taste so much better!
Figure out what dips or flavors your kids like and add them to your veggies! You may be surprised at how much more they eat!
5. Make it Simple and Offer Them Nutrition
Once you have added some new snacks, start making it simple. Try a week of offering only veggies or fruits for snacks and let them eat as much as they want. I have discovered that my kids would have eaten more vegetables if I didn’t have so many other snacks in the pantry competing with them.
Create a space to let them express their opinion and talk about the food and why they are nutritious. Make a chart to graph what they like or don’t like. I will place a tray of cut veggies with dips and a tray of colorful summer fruits on the table. I tell my kids they can eat whatever they want and can have as much as they want!
Sometimes having snacks readily available makes choosing so much easier. I simply say, “Kids, we are going to get some more nutrients in our bodies this week, so all snacks will be anytime you want it, however much you want and consist of any of the veggies or fruits we have in our house!”
I promise your kids will go for it! It may take day 4 or 5 when you first start it, but if you will be patient, you will see results! Offer them nutrition and they will start choosing it.
6. Hide Nutrition in SMOOTHIES
In the summer, I try to add more quality fats for my kids brains, more green veggies and lots of organic berries for antioxidants. With 4 kids, I am not going to please everyone. 3 kids may love the “veggie/fruit snack week” and call it “fun!” but there will always be that 4th kid that is not having it! A plate of kale can be overwhelming to a kid (let’s be honest and to adults) but when you add it to a smoothie they can accept it so much better!
Smoothies are the easiest place I can add more nutrients! This was the first place I started when I began trying to give my kids more nutrients! I would recommend, when your budget permits, to invest in a Blendtec or Vitamix Blender! They make smoothies so easy and fun!
One of our favorite smoothie recipe websites is Simple Green Smoothies! I used this when I first started and now it is my reference when we are getting bored. They explain how to layer ingredients to make the best smoothies. They also create fun free challenges to drinking a smoothie everyday for 30 days! Their next one starts July 1st! Try it out!
When we did the 3o day challenge, we called the green smoothies “Mr. Hulk” for my boys who were not excited at first. Green smoothies are now their first choice!
Spinach is the easiest green to add without being noticed and it is so great for our bodies, so put a bunch of it in a smoothie! Supplements like Probiotics and Vitamin C can easily be put in a smoothie as well.
Using Organic lemon juice is a trick to hiding the bitter taste of a variety of greens. Use whole fruit to sweeten your smoothie. (Not sugar!) A banana will make a smoothie sweeter than sugar!
7. Agree to Take a Bite Every Day and Have Fun
Once we have set the fears aside with trying new things, we ask each of them to choose a new veggie or fruit and agree to take 1 bite every day for 1 week. They can take the bite whenever they want.
They simply have to take a bite, chew and swallow. Have my kids gagged? Yes! but those Stewart littles have a cup of water to drink right after the bite. My oldest son realized he loved raw spinach by doing this and my daughter discovered she loved cucumbers!
I promise this little step will help your kids try new things and discover nutritious foods they love! Have fun and make it a game. Offer fun activities to do together to celebrate everyone taking a bite! Even as an adult, you can have fun with this and eat more veggies and fruits by the end of summer!
8. Remember, What is in the Pantry is What They Will Eat
My husband pointed out to me one day that I kept complaining that all my kids wanted to eat was cereal but I kept buying them more. He graciously challenged me to purchase things that I was okay with and let me kids eat and enjoy food. He was right!
Now, when it comes to food, my family wants me to be in charge of nutrition and trust me to put foods in our fridge and pantry that will help their minds and bodies! With that trust comes great responsibility, so now as I make my grocery list, I choose foods I am sure about and let my kids eat freely. I don’t complain. I am still learning and nutrition is ever changing!
I may not please everyone every day, but that is not my end goal with feeding my family. If I have bought it, then they can eat it. And I have found that when I have nutritious foods available and my family is hungry, they will eat it! If I don’t want them choosing goldfish over veggies, then I don’t have goldfish in the house. I have found that this has been harder for me than for my family. I settle on what allowances I will give and where I will not budge. This took some thought time for me and discussions with my husband, but to this day, we have been able to move to healthier habits far more easily when I remember this.
9. Don’t Sweat the Stuff They Don’t Like
There are weeks when none of us like what I served for snacks or meals. If your child or husband just can’t stomach Kale, look for another green! Choose a supplemental powder or move to quality fats.
Focus on the little successes when it comes to adding in nutrition! Focus on new foods your family has discovered they like and serve more of them! Maybe next summer you will all be eating Kale!
10. Try and Try Again
Remember that these are steps in the long journey. Learn how to walk, not sprint! Try something and then try it again! Don’t give up! If you don’t like beets, try again next summer! It took me 2 years of trying beets before I started craving them. Every new day and new season you can try new things!
Keep what you like and try other things another day! We continue to do this! In fact, this summer, we are trying spaghetti squash and trying sweet potatoes again! Still, sweet potatoes are not a favorite in our family, so I am trying a new recipe. Will let you know how it goes!
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