‘Tis the season of indulgence and I will be giving my Kitchen Aid quite the workout this season, as I love a good holiday bake-a-thon. I love filling my house with the smell of freshly baked goodies as I stare at the ever-growing stack of packages beneath our glittering tree. Then, just like Cinderella, when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, we set down our champagne flutes and begin contemplating all of the healthy resolutions we vow to stick to in the New Year.
This year, you do not have to wait until the ball drops to start making healthy choices for you and your family because being healthy can be…dare I say, fun!
1. Make Grocery Shopping an Adventure
You know how you make extensively detailed lists and map every single place to visit when you are planning a family vacation? Do the exact same thing when you are planning a trip to the amazing and fantastical grocery store! Get your kids in on the action. If they are old enough, ask them to help you research recipes online or in your favorite cookbook. If you have a toddler, as I do, ask them to flip through a cooking magazine and point out their favorite pictures. If it looks appetizing to a picky toddler’s palate, it is bound to be good.
After you have made your list and checked it twice, take your kids with you to the adventuredome known as the local grocery store. Yes, you read that correctly. I am suggesting you bring the whole family, Clark Griswold style, to the grocery store. Put older kids to work by asking them to help gather items from your list. For your younger kids, make your first stop a visit to the green beans. Arm your tyke with a bag full of fresh green beans and wait for the sigh of utter contentment. Green beans are not only healthy, they fun to play with and do wonders for teething woes.
As you shop, point out all of the healthy ingredients you are purchasing and build excitement for the upcoming meals by equating the week’s meal plan to a movie trailer for the season’s blockbuster.
Coming soon to a kitchen near you…butternut squash stars in “Mac ‘n Cheese!”
2. Make Meal Preparation a Team Sport
After putting forth all of that effort to plan your trip to the fabulous grocery store, the next natural step is to get everyone in on the cooking action. Following a recipe naturally lends itself to developing your child’s reading and math skills. I often make this a homework assignment for my students because it involves following directions, decoding, and using measurement. Even the youngest of prep cooks can get in on the action. I give my one-year-old her own bowl and a whisk and she makes her own scrambled eggs “by herself”. I also point out each of the ingredients and ask her to taste test. This year for Christmas, she will receive her very own cooking set to embark on her very own culinary adventure.
Give everyone a job and work together. Let your kids take over the job of head chef and put you to work. Yes, your kitchen will most likely be a disaster, but messes are a sign of creativity at play! A great rock anthem can help make cleaning up after your meal a little more enjoyable for all, as well.
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