Tips for feeding children healthy meals

Tampa Bay TimesAugust 20, 2013 

PEANUTBUTTER3.FE.030410.JEL

Make as many things as you can from scratch, like peanut butter.

JLEONARD@NEWSOBSERVER.COM — 2010 NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO - JULI LEONARD

  • More information

    Suzanne Havala Hobbs’ On the Table column will return next week.

As the father of a sprouting 3-year-old, one of the most important things I can do as a parent is arm him with healthy eating habits.

Here are five simple tips you can implement that will make a difference for your family:

1. Make food with your kids. Justice has cracked eggs for me since he was old enough to hold them. I hate the smell of Play-Doh (I know it’s weird, but I always have). So Justice and I love to make fresh flour tortillas instead. He gets to play with the doughy substance and we enjoy some good eats upon completion.

2. Make the dinner table a destination. Preparing fresh and delicious food for my wife and son is a point of pride and a way that I express my love to them. In our family, food is a tie that binds, and I look forward to our nightly meals together.

3. Make as many things as you can. I want to know every ingredient that goes into the food I serve my family. One way to ensure this is doing everything (within your means) from scratch. I resolved a few years back that if I can buy it, I can make it. So, for example, I make my own peanut butter, salad dressings, mayonnaise, jams, etc. It gives you a lot of flavor flexibility and keeps things as fresh as possible.

4. Use trips to the grocery store as teaching tools. I go to Publix far more than most (at least five times a week) so Justice, from about 6 months, became a fixture at the store. But instead of zipping up and down aisles, I began pointing out things on the shelf. As he grew older, we would explore textures in the produce section and learn about vegetables. I feel a big part of the reason he learned his numbers, colors and letters so quickly was all those trips to Publix. And I’m pretty sure he’s the only 3-year-old in the world who can identify garlic, asparagus and cilantro.

5. Avoid the junk. Kids love sweets, but skip the high-fructose corn syrup. According to the most recent statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture report, 31.8 percent of American adults are obese. Local honey is a naturally produced substitute that is every bit as satisfying and much healthier.

Brandon Wright is a married father of one who lives in Seffner, Fla.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service