Saturday, July 10, 2010

Use Books to Wet Your Child's Appetite for Healthy Food

Good food and good books are two important components of childhood. Isn’t it great when they work together as a team? Books help me combat one the biggest roadblocks I face with my children - reluctance to try new foods. Sometimes certain stories will generate interest in a new food. Other times, books simply make mealtime more fun. 

One of our favorite games is to read a book and take a bite when we hear a certain word. For example, we'll read Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type and take a bite each time the word “cow” is uttered (or uddered as the case may be). We work on literacy skills and my boys eat a good meal - win win!

The possibilities are endless, but here are some of my favorite ways to use books to encourage good nutrition:
  • Green Eggs and Ham. I’m so grateful for all the spinach omelets my boys have eaten because of this book. I put fresh spinach (aka “magic green”) in the mini-food processor, mix it with cheese and eggs, and voila.... green eggs! 
  • The Lorax. I convinced my sons that mangoes were truffula fruits. That got them to try something new. Now they realize how delicious mangoes really are! 
  • Ten Apples Up on Top. This book inspired a yummy and healthy dish of whole grain biscuits with baked apples “up on top”. The baked apples are good even without the biscuits. To make them, simply slice granny smith apples, coat in olive oil and cinnamon, and bake in the oven until nice and mushy. For some extra fun, you can count the apples as you make them and maybe even balance them on your head!
  • Berenstain Bear’s: Mama’s Day Surprise. This book is centered around a special breakfast of honeyed french toast with fresh blueberries. My boys salivated over the pictures, so we made it one day and they happily cleaned their plates. 
  • Berenstain Bear's: Too Much Junk Food. One of my personal favorites with a great message about healthy eating. My kids are more likely to eat carrot sticks after we've read this.
  • The Little Red Hen. My oldest is fascinated with the idea that you can start with a grain of wheat, plant it, and eventually make bread out of it. I’m working on ways to capitalize on his new interest. I'm not sure I'm capable of growing wheat!
  • Richard Scarry’s books are packed full of yummy looking food.
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