santa cruz healthy eating
June 2019

You Can Bypass a Lot of Medicines if You Feed Kids Healthy Food

By Kris Holden

Kris Holden

As a parent, we strive to keep our kids safe and healthy. When our kids are young we’re able to feed them (or at least attempt) pretty much what WE want them to eat; fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, etc… But as they get older, and they get introduced to (in school, friend’s houses, etc…) processed foods, fast foods, candy, and those neon-colored cupcakes, their taste buds seem to change.

I’ve always tried to feed my kids “healthy” food at home. Now “healthy” can be defined in many different ways and look different from home to home. I would say a lot of us deem what’s “healthy” based on the food manufacturers. And they’re going to tell us whatever they want in order for us to buy their products, especially when the packages are marketed to kids. 

santa cruz healthy eating

For some reason, the food manufacturers, seem to think they need to put sugar in everything that a kid eats. Why is there sugar in jelly or peanut butter? And sugar isn’t the only thing. Have you ever tried to read the ingredients label of most packaged foods targeted for children? On the front of the box it may say, “natural” but reading the actual ingredients list there are very few to sometimes zero “natural” ingredients. For this reason it takes me a long time to go grocery shopping because I’m constantly reading ingredients in everything I buy, no matter which store I shop at.

So, how do we navigate our children’s taste buds back to a more whole foods style of eating while they’re constantly being tempted by those bright colors and artificial flavors?

This has been an ongoing journey in our house and we’ve come to the realization that when the kids are at home that’s our opportunity to educate them about nutritious foods that serve a purpose such as energizing and healing. We only buy from the grocery store what we’d want the kids to eat and most of what we buy are whole foods such as fruit, variety of vegetables, whole grains, etc…We will have various packaged snacks but the ingredient list needs to be short and most, if not all, recognizable foods listed. When the kids are not at home they can choose what they want to eat, but at least their choice will be made consciously knowing what’s going to bring them sustained energy and what’s going to be a quick up and then down.

I do have to get creative, and sometimes sneaky, when I prepare my children’s meals to incorporate vegetables, beans, fruit and whole grains. I have one child that doesn’t like fresh fruit…at all…and has a no-like/hate relationship with most vegetables. She is getting better at trying new things, as she gets older, thank goodness.

Breakfast is a meal, especially on my children’s school days, I will put more energy and creativity into making for them. Yes, I can let them chose to eat cereal or a bar, which would definitely make it easier and less time-consuming for me, but I know that won’t keep them properly fueled with focused brain power and sustained energy for the better part of the day. So, I chose to wake up a bit earlier on their school mornings, it’s actually a treat to have a calm and quiet kitchen, to myself, before everyone’s up and the morning chaos starts.

The creativity comes into play when I’m trying to make them something they’ll like but also nutritious, for some reason, that’s two separate categories. Recently, we, my husband, our oldest daughter, and I, started eating a whole foods plants based diet. This means no animal products and very little oil. So making my other 2 kids a breakfast that they’ll like has been a little more challenging, but so far so good.

One recipe that I came across recently has been able to combine the 2 categories: tasty and nutritious, into one…Chocolate Black Bean Smoothie. I know…doesn’t sound appetizing…BUT, it’s tried and true and best of all “kid approved.” I promise, they won’t be able to taste the black beans or the frozen cauliflower. You just need to make sure you make this when the kids are NOT in the kitchen…wink, wink… This is a breakfast that can be made for the whole family, it’s quick, easy, and only takes one blender.

This smoothie is packed with nutrition and it’ll keep you full. Beans are packed with fiber (that’s one thing that most Americans are lacking in our typical processed foods and fast foods diet). The fiber and complex starch in the beans digest slower than sugar in fruit, which will keep you fuller for longer. Beans are also packed with nutrients such as folate, iron, zinc and manganese. Cauliflower is high in fiber, Vitamin C and K as well as plenty of other nutrients.

RECIPE: Chocolate Black Bean Smoothie

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. I ended up adding some ice to make it colder, but not necessary.

To make into a Smoothie Bowl, lesson the amount of milk to about 1/4 cup or so. You’ll need a high speed blender for this with a plunger to push down the ingredients as it blends.

For smoothie variations, you can add spinach, kale or collard greens (again you can not taste) frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, or other frozen fruit. You can also use white beans.


Recipe by Katie Trant, @heynutritionlady

Kris Holden is a mother of 3 teens. She’s always been passionate about health and nutrition and eager to share with others what’s worked for her and her family. She’s a Feel Good Coach with focus on healing and energizing through a plant based whole foods lifestyle. You can view other recipes and healthy food selections on Instagram @feelgoodpicks. Email: [email protected]

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