When the boys were babies, feeding them a nutrient dense diet took very little creativity. I could simply sauté the liver, steam some broccoli and puree it together with some egg yolk. They would gobble it up.
Then they started eating finger foods. The prep work for that stage was more time consuming as I could not make a lot ahead of time and freeze it like the purees. The boys were still very accepting of everything I gave them.
Things changed around the time when the boys turned three. Their tastes changed abruptly and play became much more important than eating. They wanted to eat on the run and they were much more “aware” of what they were eating.
That was the beginning of my attempts for “sneaking” nutrient dense foods into their diet. The quest continues today with all four kiddos.
There are days that I long for a nice neat tray full of puffed cereal, crackers or goldfish. How much easier would cleanup be? But, would I be serving my kids to the best of my ability? Here are some of my main tricks to sneak in the best foods daily:
For the boys:
I involve them in the process of planning, shopping, preparing and cooking the food. There are days when this is a huge hit and everything goes great. They are interested and engaged and then there are days when the exact opposite happens. They could care less and are much more interested in Bob the Builder or fighting with each other.
Part of the planning process involves my menu boards and I let them choose a “kids night” dinner once a week. One of their recent favorites is “jump soup” and ham steak. We measure how high they jump before the soup and then after drinking half the cup we “measure” again. They love that the soup makes them jump higher. The soup is nutrient dense bone broth and roast butternut squash soup pureed together. Simple and yummy.
William loves organ meat sautéed in the pan. Cameron and my husband do not. So, I mix the organ meat with ground beef and make it into meatballs. Add a little nutritional yeast for a rich cheesy flavor.
The sauce is another way to sneak in a ton of veggies. I roast three medium beets, on whole red onion, one whole head of garlic, 5 medium carrots, 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, a head of broccoli and 1/2 head of cauliflower. Peel and slice the root veggies and rub with oil and red wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper and roast on 400 for 30 min. Combine roast veggies in a large pot with two cans of diced tomatoes and 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes bring to a low simmer. Next add one can of drained anchovies and one pound of trimmed kale and cook long enough to wilt the kale. Let sauce cool then puree in batches in a high speed blender. Finally add sliced mushrooms and organ meat meatballs. Presto! The sauce is delicious and nobody ever knows the difference. I serve it over rice noodles cooked in broth or alongside rice cooked in broth.
One more super simple way to sneak in some veggies is with the Nutribullet in smoothies. I use this as my vehicle to get the boys vitamins and more greens into their diet. I must say that there have been times following a green smoothie spill that I vow not to make them again. But, they are such a simple way to pack a big nutrient punch in one glass. A smoothie example is: one handful of green spinach, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup mango, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 Tbsp hemp or chia seeds, 1 Tbsp gelatin and 1 scoop greens powder. To that I add their probiotic capsules, magnesium and vitamin C. The blender breaks everything down and usually they drink it straight down.
There are other strategies I use to make sure that these sneaky foods will be eaten. Sometimes you have to use a little bribery. I know, that sounds bad even as I type it but I feel like as long as I get it in them, even a little, their gut will follow. So, I’ll offer a treat if they eat politely at the table. He he he, even the treat is “good for them”. The cookies are made from seeds or nuts and sweetened with fruit or a pinch of raw honey. The boys don’t know the difference and gobble them right up. Check out my site for some easy cookie recipes that satisfy the sweet tooth without sacrificing nutrition.
Kids are tricky and keep us on our toes. I use to get very stressed out if the boys did not eat all their salad or if they suddenly refused their pot roast. Now, I look at it big picture…over the course of a week. How much nourishment are they receiving and just as importantly, how many toxins they are not eating.