Being a Together Counts™ Ambassador has inspired me to continually look for ways to actively involve my children in living a balanced lifestyle. One way to inspire children to make wholesome choices is to involve them in the process of selecting and cooking their own food. With the busy lives we all lead, it is easy to forget that so much of the food we eat grows from the earth, which is a powerful lesson for children— teaching them about the source of their sustenance.
With this in mind, we decided to tap into the abundant resources our local farms have to offer. So off we went to visit local farm (a grocery store will do just fine). We all had fun running from stand to stand closely examining the bountiful selection. We were also reminded of topic of achieving energy balance and hypothesized about how many jumping jacks it would take to balance out 10 apples or how many carrots we would need to eat to have the energy to skip around.
We gave each of our children the opportunity to pick their favorite vegetable to bring back home and cook. There was excitement in the air as they both hunted for the most exotic vegetables they could find. Then over the next week we choose some delicious recipes featuring the vegetables of their choosing and cooked up a storm.
Our youngest daughter was drawn to an amazing stalk of Brussels sprouts. After marveling at the size of the stalk and the fact that we did not even know that Brussels sprouts grew on stalks, we took them home, cut them up and decided to roast them. We put them in a baking dish, covered them with olive oil and salt, and baked them at 300 degrees for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. The results were scrumptious!
Now, I must confess, my oldest daughter already loves Brussels sprouts, and the two of us were in heaven. The good news is that our youngest would never try them in the past and actually gobbled two right down. Considering the fact that we are supposed to expose our children to a food 10 times before they develop a preference for it, I’d say we are on our way to balanced eating!
What are your favorite ways to teach your kids about the importance of a balanced lifestyle?
Mariah Bruehl is a parent, educator, and author of the book Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder. With over 15 years’ experience working in the field of education and a Master of Science degree in Education from Bank Street College, she brought her expertise online, creating the Parents’ Choice Gold Medal award-winning Web site Playful Learning. In 2011 she launched the Playful Learning Ecademy, which offers engaging online learning experiences for kids, parents, and teachers.