Podcast Episode 33 – How to Encourage Kids to Eat More Plants

Child reaching for strawberries

Eating as many plants as possible is a good habit to have. Starting the habit of eating more plants at a young age is truly a great way to a healthy lifestyle. Do you have a child that you would like to encourage this way? Listen in on Patryce and Shonda’s conversation to discover some helpful tips.

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Episode 33 Encourage Kids to Eat More Plants

[00:00:00] Yeah, good morning. It's morning for us. Hi Patryce. Good morning. Hi Shonda. How are you? Oh, I'm doing well. Excellent. I'm excited about our topic today. Yeah. Yeah. What are we talking about today? We are talking about how to introduce kids to a more plant-based diet, which is exciting. And although our kids are grown, we can still encourage them.

[00:00:28] And wow. I can just like, this is good information, so I'm glad we're talking about it. Yeah, me too. Yeah. I hope everyone finds it helpful, no matter what age or stage their children are, or, you know, influence, uh, a neighbor, uh, even, you know, grandchild, um, just a friend, niece and nephews. Now that you mentioned it.

[00:00:50] You're right there. My cousin. Yeah, she, she's been influenced by... my nine-year-old second cousin. So you're right. We can still continue to encourage people. Okay. So we, we came up with some practical ways to implement these ideas. Yeah, you know we are all about practicality. And, uh, one of them is starting with your shopping for food.

[00:01:18] So often kids go with us to the grocery store. So why not make it an opportunity to introduce them to more plants? Right. Yeah, I know. And sometimes you would want them to be distracted and doing their own thing while you do your own thing, choosing groceries, but it's important that they are there, you know?

[00:01:39] Um, I know I look for opportunities to go alone, grocery shopping, but even then we can do that. And pick specific days that we take our children into the grocery store. Well that's an excellent idea again, about being intentional and planning so we can plan for certain days to take them. Yeah. So the whole grocery shopping idea, taking your kids with you is a great idea. And then if you've taken them with you, that's super, and you can explain things or talk about things that make it a fun experience and educating them about foods. But if they don't go, there's still the opportunity when you get home to allow them to help you unpack the groceries and then talk about what you've purchased and why you've chosen these different things and some exciting recipes that you're thinking of to make with these groceries. And then that just leads us into another idea, incorporating cooking with your kids into your, your daily schedule or whatever it would be.

[00:02:45] Yeah. Uh, that's a good idea. Um, I just thought about, I know, um, you had mentioned earlier about um, picking a new vegetable. So maybe every time you go to the grocery store you could pick one new vegetable to try. And, you know, I think I could do that myself. You know, there's still, there's my staples that I get all the time. And then I could just make sure that I get something that I don't often eat. So. That's a great idea. For all of us right?

[00:03:15] Yes, that's a great idea. And my, my sister in Seattle, they have a farmer markets like every week. And there was one walking distance from her home and her now four year old son, he looks forward to going to the farmer's market and he gets to pick out a new fruit or vegetable, like each week.

[00:03:33] Okay. That sounds good. Um, so back to, uh, cooking in the kitchen .Um, so yeah, if they're old enough, they could pick a recipe that they would like, that would be exciting, right? For, for the child. Yeah. You mentioned field trips to the farmer's markets or the farms. And, you know, I know here in the warmer climate and maybe other places, I don't know, I only know about here. There's a lot... there are many berry picking farms.

[00:04:05] That's a great thing too, because, um, you take them with you. And then when the children... I know we did that once and they're more excited. Kids are more excited to prepare things with those strawberries and the blueberries that you picked together in the... at the farm.

[00:04:21] And then usually some of the, some of the farms actually have people who will share about how they grow their crops and certain things they make at the farm with the strawberries, for example. So you might even get some recipes to take home, but that's a great idea. Yeah.

[00:04:38] Another idea was to grow your own garden. And if that's too much, though, if you're not already doing that or visit a friend maybe who has a garden.That's a good idea, but you can always just grow herbs. You know, make a little pot, put some herbs in there because herbs are, they are really nutritious, you know, like cilantro is a detoxifier for metals.

[00:05:09] Wow and delicious. I like cilantro and everything, and I'm doing that myself. I don't have a full blown garden at all, but I bought one of these raised beds and I'm just putting some Rosemary and a couple other herbs and they seem to be a little easier for me. Yeah. But children can definitely get encouraged by growing their own herbs with you.

[00:05:33] Potted gardens are the easiest, right? Yeah. And so this is something that I changed. I, um, normally when I bring my herbs home, I would put them in glass jars with water in the fridge. But, you know, I recently saw someone on YouTube and they just leave theirs out, just like I used to leave my kale out, just put it in water and leave it out.

[00:05:58] And it just looks so pretty. It looks like I have a plant in the kitchen. Right? It adds green color, but I was just thinking if we put those herbs, like on a window sill in the water in the water, it looks pretty. And then it reminds us to eat them because they're out in front of us, you know.

[00:06:16] That's a great idea. And I, I have a sister who lives in a townhome and so she doesn't have a big yard, but she does exactly what you said. She starts so many things in her kitchen and different bowls and it's just from the roots. And I think they call it the butt of vegetables. Uh, from which you can grow a lot of things, you can just Google it. There are people who have a lot of instructions on that, but you're right. And it's an inexpensive way to start your own growing in your own kitchen. And it's beautiful and a good reminder of what you want to eat.

[00:06:52] Okay. Um, yeah, so one last way that we thought was the most practical way is to just be an example, right. Let's allow them to see what we're eating, you know, share our plates with them. Um, and then that just reminds me, like when we're having guests over or, you know, I would cook my own food and cook for them. But, you know, it's like, why am I like, it's like, why am I hiding there my food, you know? I should be sharing my food.

[00:07:30] And the reason was it was just like, I didn't think they would be interested. That that was in the beginning. So in the beginning, even if you're making the transition, go ahead and just be willing to share openly with your new foods, you know, with your new creations, with your new recipes.

[00:07:47] That's a great point. Show your kids. Show our kids, how excited we are about what's on our plate. And especially the small kids. It can be a fun activity. And like you said, also sharing what's actually on your plate. A lot of kids like to eat off mom and dad's plate. So I'm sharing what's on our plate and then making our plates colorful.

[00:08:08] I like to see a lot of color on my plate, myself, like the green and the purple cause you have cabbage, then you have some spinach, different things, even the cauliflower and then some peppers. So that whole rainbow of colors represented on our plates. And we can't forget carrots, um, can be just something that our kids will begin to think is the norm.

[00:08:30] And, um, then they will, when they're older want to have more colorful plates because it's become a habit for them because they saw it when they were young. So I think that's a great idea. So we shouldn't be like, Oh, well, here's mommy's plate over here. And then you guys are eating over there. We can just, uh, be sharing the information at an early age.

[00:08:52] Um, yeah, so yeah, don't limit them to what they, you know, don't allow them to limit themselves, you know, like I only want this, I only want the chicken nuggets and the French fries and that's it, you know, you know? Okay. So if that's where you are at the chicken nuggets and French fries, but put a color on the plate too, and allow them to explore that also.

[00:09:15] I, I think it's important. What you just shared because you hear so many stories like, oh, well my child will only this and they won't eat it. Oh. They won't like that. And I especially hone in when they say they won't like it. That just, just reminds me to say, well, have they tried it? Because oftentimes some will... we'll assume they won't like something, but we don't know that was something with our kids.

[00:09:42] I was like, there might be things they don't prefer, but I want them to try everything and then they can decide that's what they like or don't like. But too often, I think kids are just saying, I don't want that. And then they never try it.

[00:09:58] Yeah, so that reminds us, um, with how to start maybe making the transition then. So I just thought maybe first, yeah, we can start with more fruits. You know, if they eat a limited amount of fruits, like maybe they just like strawberries and bananas. But you know, expand that out because you know, there's more fiber opportunities. There's more antioxidant opportunities. There's more, you know, so just maybe try a new fruit each week also. You know, I know we talked about trying a new vegetable, but maybe trying a new fruit too, because fruits are just as important.

[00:10:35] And usually they're sweeter, so children will, you know, enjoy those more and, and, you know, start with the fruits. It's like, Oh, this new fruit, Oh, this is tasting so good. So then, you know, you slip in, Oh, this new vegetable, you know.

[00:10:49] That's a great idea. Yeah. And, um, also I was thinking that, um, When you are introducing vegetables, introduce it, you know, maybe two ways, because I even have an adult child that prefers vegetables to be raw versus cooked.

[00:11:09] So, you know, with children, people with younger palates or whatever, they it's really all about the texture of the food. They may not like a mushy cooked vegetable. You know what? I may think it's too mushy or something, but they may enjoy that crunch. So that's this apart that, um, that's a good thought Shonda, because now that I think about it, a lot of kids are impacted by texture and, and even, um, have occupational therapy, um, classes they go to, or they have they're working on that, their families so that they can eat better.

[00:11:48] But perhaps we could maybe avoid some of that if we were introducing, not just our vegetables steamed or, or soggy, but we have some raw introduced them and maybe not always introducing the most pungent vegetable first, starting with the squash or, or even the piece first, because I, I made the mistake when I, my kids were still that not even a year or two, but.

[00:12:16] When you first introduced him to sell it feeds one of the first vegetables I introduced my daughter to work was kale. And thankfully she likes kale to this day, but I will say that very first introduction, um, I didn't think it out. Let's just put it that, that was kind of tough. That's a tough one. True.

[00:12:40] So just being a little, just being intentional and playing. Okay. What, what are we introducing this week? And, uh, that's why I liked how you said the fruits. We, we want to introduce this. Maybe don't just stick to the fruit zone. You do want to incorporate some vegetable upfront too, because then that child might acquire more of the sweet.

[00:13:01] Wanting the more sweet taste of the fruit, but, and maybe some of the less, um, Uh, sweet fruits because the banana is probably one of the sweeter ones. They'll make sure we are including some of the, not as sweet because, uh, tomatoes is not a free, it is a fruit, a lot of the vegetables are fruits. I think the ones with the many seeds are fruit, but yeah, tomatoes, I know that they're sweet.

[00:13:26] Uh, you know, if, if the tall has not been eating a lot of sugar, um, tomatoes are sweet and different things, so yeah, that's good. And, you know, And along with, I was thinking with a raw foods with raw foods, you could put a dip on the side for that vegetable such as hummus or whackamole and you know, other different dips and being other being dips, you know, which reminds me, let's not forget about the many varieties of beans.

[00:14:01] Hmm. Let's think about it. Beans are a little small, you know, they're small, um, you know, little bites, you know, and so, you know, we want to make sure that I guess the child's over two or so when they're eating a bean, but, you know, make sure it's Chu is being chewed well, but, um, beans have. Just a nice texture, I think when they're cooked properly and seasoned well, and I think that many children, you know, would like being, so I'm not just talking about baked beans with, you know, Uh, that's, that's normally the first introduction, but you know, black beans, lentils, chickpeas, you know, just a variety.

[00:14:45] That is, that is an area that we can put a lot of variety on the plate with is a variety of beans. Well, that's a great point. That reminds me about some practical ideas for menu. I mean you ideas and we don't have to go all into it, but for example, you could start your child with a more plant-based breakfast with like, uh, some fruit and some oatmeal, perhaps in a nut milk, if they can not milk, if you feel comfortable with depending on their age, but then for that lunch, you just.

[00:15:18] Brought a beans making when they're older, a pita sandwich or something with hummus, like you said, you could get those chickpeas and that's basically what hummus is. Yeah. So that way, and then, uh, a bean case, a deer, you know, those are really good Pinto beans, that's it. Okay. Um, So, um, I think we talked about one last way.

[00:15:50] It's not really introducing, but it does allow their pallet to get used to more advanced tastes would be to hide vegetables in some foods. I, you know what I don't like, it's not really about hiding. It's still about the texture. For children. So they may not want to chew the zucchini and the spaghetti sauce or something.

[00:16:16] But I know that at times, even now, when I, when I go ahead and I make a spaghetti sauce, but I pure Ray, all those ingredients together. The flavor is just up to now. Yes, it's so good. I'm so glad you brought that up. That's a great idea. Even for adults, some adults, they don't even know what all in that spaghetti sauce, but it's delicious and yeah, it adds different flavor levels.

[00:16:45] So. Yeah, I think so. That's a good way to just go ahead and make that sauce and pure Ray, all the vegetables in there. So that's one way. And when we're talking about pureeing, you know, my favorite is a smoothie. Okay. Yeah, that's right. I like them too. Yeah. Yeah, because you can mix the sweetness of the fruits plus the greens.

[00:17:07] I I'm all for adding greens to the diet. Cause they're the best detoxer (detoxifier) and energizing food there is. And so just add something green and you can start with spinach because spinach is... you know, and maybe, you know, for... if, if they're, if they don't want green drinks, I'm just thinking, um, on what's that day? Um, what's that day in March, that Irish day what's the Patrick. Okay. So make it fun. Like, I think, I mean, make a green smoothie for St. Patrick's day, you know. (I like the creativity.) And you know what else? Yeah. Let's see. Um, so like a scrambled tofu. Hmm. You could add some pureed green juice or something in there and make it, and you know, like, like a version of green eggs and like... (Oh, green eggs and ham.)

[00:18:04] Yeah. But it would be like bacon or another tempeh tofu bacon or something like that. So there's just, you know, just get creative and fun and, you know, you can make, uh, images on your plates with, you know, carrots and peas and things like that. Or like you say, make the rainbow on the, you know, so they're just really fun ways to do that.

[00:18:28] Super fun. And now that you mentioned it, especially spinach, because often you can't even taste the spinach in a smoothie or, or, and I think we used to make muffins with, uh, Spinach or other great (vegetables). Other vegetables, zucchini muffins. Yeah. Zucchini muffins are really good. Yeah. And, um, you could, instead of putting so much sugar in there, you could use raisins instead. And Apple sauce to make it moist. Apple sauce... banana zucchini muffins.

[00:18:59] Yeah. We got to find a recipe and post that with this show. I'm getting hungry. So yeah, that was, um, If there's not anything else that was just one reference you found that, uh, you wanted to share and I'll make sure that the link is with the show notes. Is there anything you wanted to say about that?

[00:19:19] Yes. There was an excellent resource I found online. Plant plate.com. And not only did they talk about how to introduce your children to a more plant-based diet, but they actually had some recipes and they, within their, uh, article, they referenced some other great resources. One I think you're very familiar with.

[00:19:42] PCRM that's yeah. The physicians committee for responsible medicine, right. Yeah. I do frequent their website. Oh, very often. We'll put the link below.

[00:19:55] Okay. That's great. Well, I hope everyone's encouraged to try some ideas to encourage your kids or, or any young person that you're influencing to try more plants and fruits and vegetables basically.

[00:20:12] And, um, and make it fun. Like Shonda, you had some great ideas about how to be creative and make it fun. So I hope people are encouraged to do so.

[00:20:20] Yeah. And, um, we can even share this with our adult friends. And family.

[00:20:27] Yes. True. And that resource that we mentioned earlier had some great recipes for the whole family.

[00:20:33] And that's a very good point. Everything we've talked about can apply to everyone, including us as adults.

[00:20:40] Yeah, for sure. For sure. A great thing.

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