That’s the point registered dietitians Joanne Saab and Daina Kalnins make in the second edition of “Better Food for Kids: Your Essential Guide to Nutrition for All Children from Age 2 to 10” (Robert Rose, $24.95).
To bolster their argument, the authors, who are associated with the Hospital for Sick Children, offer 10 basic recommendations that apply not just to kids, but to adults as well. Here are four examples:
- “Whenever possible, serve your children homemade rather than prepared or convenience foods. …
- “Limit your child’s intake of juice. For quenching thirst, water should be the main beverage of choice.
- “Don’t rely on vitamin supplements as a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet.
- “Enjoy an active lifestyle together as a family. Exercise, along with healthy foods, can help decrease the incidence of obesity in children — and adults!”
But feeding a 4-year-old is not the same as feeding an 8-year-old, and the authors go into the needs of children in three age groups (2-4, 4-6 and 6-10). Other topics include vegetarian diets, childhood obesity and food allergies.
This won’t be easy for a lot of parents who are strapped for time, but the effort is worth it, especially if you want healthy children and you want to maintain your own health. So, Saab and Kalnins offer tips on how to incorporate more homemade meals into your routine and better snacks for your kids — fruit, celery, carrots and cauliflower instead of cookies, snack cakes and chips. They also stress the importance of including your kids in the process, especially if it’s to farmers markets or the farm for pick-your-own fruits. That way, they learn more about nutrition and understand that food comes from some place other than the supermarket.
The great benefit from this is that the more meals you make from scratch, the easier the whole process of cooking becomes. Soon, you’ll be able to get rid of many, if not all, of the processed foods from your diet.
There are plenty of recipes in the book to get you started. In case you think these are all boring dishes only a nutritionist or dietitian would eat, just remember: There are plenty of options for those with a sweet tooth, including recipes for Chocolate Chip Pizza Cookie and Raspberry Granola Bars. There are also plenty of breakfast choices, such as the easy Eggs Baked in Cheese (below), so you send your children to school with a solid start on the day.
“The recipes in ‘Better Food for Kids’ are actually not just for kids, but are intended to be enjoyed by the entire family,” they write. “We have made every effort to ensure that most of the recipes are quick and easy to prepare.
Eggs Baked in Cheese
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup whole milk or light (5 percent) cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of paprika
Finely chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sprinkle cheese over bottom of greased 8-inch baking pan.Break eggs over cheese.
In a bowl, whisk together milk, salt and pepper. Pour over eggs. Sprinkle lightly with paprika.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until eggs are just set. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 158 calories, 11 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat, 0 fiber, 194 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 336 mg sodium.
Makes 4 servings.
From “Better Food for Kids: Second Edition,” by Joanne Saab and Daina Kalnins