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Healthy Eating: Start Young and Make It Fun!

Dec 31, 2010 02:11PM ● By Carrie Jackson

Children are more likely to get excited about eating healthfully if they are involved in the process and still get to eat their favorite foods. Kids of almost any age can help with mixing and preparation. And with the right ingredients, it’s easy to have your kids help make nutritious pizzas, smoothies, pastas and desserts.

Stacey Patillo, a holistic health counselor in Glenview, typically finds that the earlier youngsters get used to healthy eating, the more they enjoy it. Kids who are raised on whole foods don’t develop a palate for high-sugar, processed foods. She recommends starting children out on crunchy solid food, such as carrots and apples, cut into bit-sized pieces. “They’ve been eating soft baby food for so long, they will get excited about the texture,” she says. Patillo recommends that parents involve children in games while prepping food, such as making a salad or side dish using every color of the rainbow: - red tomatoes, yellow squash, mandarin oranges and green edamame.

“If you take pleasure in good foods, so will your child,” says Diana Raleva, managing editor of Evanston-based, an educational website for parents seeking nutritional tips. Children learn by what they see, so it’s important for parents to set a good example. Raleva suggests adding nutrient-dense foods, such as zucchini, mushrooms and spinach, to pasta sauce and omelets for a great nutritional boost to everyday family meals.

These recipes are suitable for children of all ages, and are sure to satisfy even the youngest skeptic!

Kale Chips

1 bunch kale, rinsed
2 tsp. olive oil
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Remove the kale’s inner ribs and tear leaves into “chip-” sized pieces. In a bowl, add olive oil to the kale pieces and use your fingers to toss to coat each piece evenly. Spread onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are brown and crispy. Let cool and enjoy.

Courtesy of Stacey Patillo, CHHC; reach her at [email protected] or 574-286-2169. See her ad in the Community Resource Guide.

Basic Smoothie

Fruit: apples, strawberries, banana, or other favorite fruit, rinsed and prepared to remove seeds, pits and skins as needed
Handful of a dark-green, leafy veggie, such as kale or spinach, rinsed
Ice cubes

Fill a blender 4/5 full with a combination of your child’s favorite fruits, and 1/5 full with a dark-green, leafy veggie. Toss in some ice, blend and serve. Amounts can be adjusted to taste.

Carrie Jackson is an Evanston freelance writer and blogger who grew up with the nickname “Carrie Carrot.” Reach her at

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