Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Going Green

Going green. A slightly exhausted phrase that is everywhere these days: our homes, our schools, our vehicles,  grocery stores, at work,  cleaning products, our clothes, our diapers.
I have run an approved Family Home Daycare for just over 3 years. In July of this year, Community Services made MAJOR changes to the Food and Beverage Guidelines for all childcare settings in Nova Scotia, the document is roughly 40 pages long. Most of the requirements are straight forward, and common sense, some seem to be a bit of overkill, but hey, I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.  One of the specific requirements under “Fruits and Vegetables” states :
“In full day child care settings, at least one dark green vegetable or one orange vegetable or fruit is served each day.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-fruits and vegetables. Because of a digestive issue I know battle with, I have to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day in order to get the right balance of nutrients within my temperamental tummy. But, I’ve been in this field for a while. As I am in the kitchen preparing snack or lunch, I can hear the echos of the predictable ”I don’t like that” before the lovely little darlings even try the food.
“What do you not like?”
Pointing to the green vegetable, “That.”
I kneel down beside the child, “Did you try it yet?”
“No! It’s yucky.”
“How do you know it’s yucky if you didn’t try it?”
“I know it’s yucky. It looks yucky.”
Sound familiar??
Ahhhhhh the dinner time battle has begun. The lonely, rejected green “thing” sits on the edge of the plate. Eventually, we will get at least ONE bite each time. We have a saying at daycare “One bite to be polite.” Has this daunted me from my green food mission and new food regulations?? Not a chance!!! This is just another challenge, or project you might say, to occupy my meal planning thoughts.
I am here today to ask you to not give up on that forsaken green thing your child has left on his/her plate, again. Studies show that a food may be offered to a child up 10 times before they try it, and they may try it 10 times before they like it. One tactic that I have found really helped a lot with the children in my care, is to continue to include a variety of green food regularly in their diet. PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP ON GREEN! The more your children grow accustomed to seeing green things on their plates, the more they will be willing to at least entertain the idea of taste testing them.
Now, I’m not suggesting that supper tonight should be brussle sprouts with a side of broccoli. Start with baby steps.  Green fruits are a great place to get your kids started. Green grapes, honeydew melon, pears, green apples, kiwi and limes  are excellent source on many vitamins and minerals. Include green vegetables as ingredients in your meals can help kids get used to the tastes that some green vegetables provide. Cucumbers, peas, lettuce, avocado, shallots, green beans, peppers, broccoli and zucchini are just a few vegetables that really pack a nutrition punch! You can add peas to soups and casseroles, broccoli in rice, peppers on their pizza, shallots in the mashed potatoes, just to name a few tricks we use here. Read “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss and use food coloring to  turn you breakfast into a color sensation!! We have tinted our apple juice, apple sauce and vanilla pudding green at daycare for St. Patrick’s Day with food coloring, and the kids love it! Also, KIDS LOVE TO DIP! Give your child a variety of dips and sauces to dip raw veggies in. Many strong tasting salad dressings can help make the veggies more welcoming to your child.
Have fun with it, it’s food! Food is supposed to be fun :) Don’t give up on your kids picky demeanor just yet. A diet that includes fruits and veggies from all 5 color groups will give their body the tools it needs to grow and work at it’s very best.
A little side note:
Although green is NOT considered the least visually desirable food color (blue is), RED is actually considered the MOST visually appetite stimulating color. Hmmmm you think McDonald’s, KFC, Dairy Queen or Pizza Hut knew that when they designed their logs???? A little food for thought today :)

Thank you Very Much Stephanie from Bargain Bakers for another awesome post!

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