Curt's Blog Keep It Simple. Keep It Easy.

My Top 3 Ways To Keep Your Kids Healthy

3 Simple Things That Pay Big Dividends

People ask me what they can do to keep their kids from getting sick. I’ve worked at this because I have two great kids. I did most of the cooking when they were young. I loved to cook healthy foods and much my efforts were to keep my kids from getting sick. I felt bad when my kids were sick. And I’ll admit it- from a total selfish standpoint I wanted them healthy because it is miserable on parents when the kids are sick! No one is happy. Maybe I was lucky, but they hardly EVER got sick – I’m convinced most of this was they ate nutritious meals. Sometimes kids will get sick. I get that. But, here are the 3 SIMPLEST and EASIEST THINGS that I believe will keep your kids from getting sick during the upcoming winter. They are not extreme changes. SIMPLE DOABLE THINGS that will make a big impact on keeping their immune systems in fighting shape. Ok… here they are… drumroll please…

1) SWITCH THE WHITE BREAD FOR WHOLE GRAIN BREAD

Yep. That is number 1. Partly because it is so easy to do. Why is this my #1? You go from almost ZERO nutrition (white flour) to getting fiber and nutrients in WHOLE GRAIN BREAD. Whole grains are packed with key nutrients to help kids grow and I have seriously found they boost the immune system. The key is to FIND A WHOLE GRAIN BREAD THAT THE KIDS LIKE. As I have gotten older, I like heavy thick solid bread with grains and even seeds in it. But kids don’t usually like that. They like fluffy light bread. So, test and find a whole grain bread that has the nutrition but still a bit light and airy for kids. I actually found in my area (Utah) that Grandma Sycamore’s Whole Wheat Bread was our FAVORITE.

So how do you pick a bread? First, look at the ingredients. Make sure it is 100% WHOLE GRAIN FLOUR. Most “wheat breads” have “wheat flour” as the first ingredient. It has to say “whole wheat flour”. Wheat flour is just white flour made from wheat. Read the ingredients. Make sure it is a little light and soft – then try it out. Switch to the good stuff!

Two of my favorite breads. One for adults, the other for kids.

Two of my favorite breads. One for adults, the other for kids.

2) MAKE DELICIOUS FRUIT SMOOTHIES

Whole fruit is packed with vitamin C, fiber, minerals, live enzymes and antioxidants. Great for fighting off infections. The EASY way to get kids to eat fruit is to make a smoothie and let them drink it down! They love it and they get a shot of instant health! It helps to have a great blender (I own a VitaMix and have used it for every day for 15 years). If you don’t have one just use the best you can afford or have. Start with a base of apple or pineapple juice, or even unsweetened almond milk. For me a smoothie isn’t quite right without a whole banana. Banana to me is the superstar of smoothie land. It is creamy, rich, nice easy taste. Full of nutrients. I mean, the banana is the bomb for smoothies. During the winter I buy frozen packs of fruit and just experiment. Peaches, mangos, berries… whatever you like! Add some ice and blend away! Start your kids early on smoothies and they will love them. Basically you created a super healthy drink disguised as a treat!

3) HAVE 5 HEALTHY KID FRIENDLY MEALS IN YOUR ARSENAL

Ok, this is key. You’re probably not going to get your kids to eat perfect all the time. Won’t happen. But, if you have 5 SUPERSTAR meals that your kids REALLY love that are “pretty darn healthy” then you are in business. Now, note that I didn’t say TOTALLY HEALTHY. That is because kids won’t eat sautéed Kale very often if at all. So if you can get them to eat pretty healthy it is much better than having them push the food away and sneak off to their friends to eat junk. Then create a LIST and have it handy of your top meals that are EASY, FAST AND WINNERS. I had a couple that my kids (and their friends) would beg me to make. I’m going to brag a bit here, but I created meals that the neighbor kids would literally come over and beg me to make. Yet they were all quite healthy! My top 5 were:

1) Loaded Potato Soup – Packed with potatoes, corn and I sneak in cauliflower! But I did have exotic cheeses in it!
(*All time favorite – my kids and their friends still beg me to make it and they are in their twenties!)
2) Mexican Tortilla Patties – super fast, loaded with vegetarian refried beans.
3) Whole Grain Pancakes & Waffles – Fast easy breakfast, full of hearty grains
4) Vegetarian Chile – I perfected this recipe. Loaded with beans, yams, brown rice. Great topped with cheese & chips.
5) Grilled Cheese Sandwich on Whole Grain Bread – Serve with tomato soup! Quick way to sneak in whole grain bread!

Of course I have many others, but those seemed to be the favorites. Of course there are many other quick suggestions like not having too much sugar around the house, creating healthy snacks and expanding your meals to many many other healthy dishes. But you have to start somewhere. You can find these recipes on dancingcarrots.com. Experiment and have fun with this. I would be very interested to know what are your families favorite healthy meals! Share your insights as well. We would love to hear them.

Curt

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