Welcome to Part III in our series on “Promoting Healthy Habits”. We started with The First Year, then The Toddler Years, and we’re working our way up to Pre-School Age. Is your little one heading off to pre-school for the first time? Academic Season Shares are starting in two weeks, and they’re perfect for getting extra veggies into your school lunches! Preschool age can be a lot of fun, especially in the kitchen. Children are developing fine motor skills – and can get a better grasp on kitchen tools like child-sized knives, vegetable peelers, and other tools like a garlic press. They might also become even more opinionated on what they eat and when! Of course, ever-changing taste buds can also be frustrating-foods that were favorites last week they suddenly refuse to eat. We have found that getting kids involved in food choices and food preparation from an early age yields great results! Start with unpacking your CSA Share box together, what are you excited about trying? Share this with your child and see what they are interested in trying. Is there something you or your child have never seen before? Pick out a recipe to prepare together, kids are more likely to try something they had a hand in preparing.
Small steps can make a big impact. Cut our fresh carrots into sticks for lunches and snacks-they’re much tastier than the shaved baby carrots found in stores. If you have a child-size knife your child can help wash and cut them. We love this crinkle cutter for toddlers and kids.
Sliced cucumbers also make great snacks and are easy for kids to help prepare. Cut in round shapes or long spears. Try drizzling rice vinegar or lime over sliced veggies for a tangy flavor.
Age 3 is when I really started enforcing everyone eating the same thing at meal times. It can be a struggle, but I just say “This is what is for dinner tonight, if you’re still hungry after you eat dinner you may have something else” As long as I make the expectation clear, and be consistent it usually works after a few mild protests. Some families start eating the same meals from the start, which we cover in Part I, go with what works best for your family. That is usually the right answer every time. Focus on making eating vegetables fun, I give my son a choice of what vegetables he wants to eat in his lunchbox and as much as possible we set a good example ourselves by trying new things and eating our veggies at every meal!
Here’s a kid friendly recipe for mashed potatoes and parsnips-they can help with boiling, peeling, chopping, and mashing! For more kid-friendly recipes try this book written by a Montessori school teacher-soon your kids will be preparing you dinner!
Mashed Parsnips and Potatoes
4 lbs total potatoes and parsnips
1 cup whole milk
1/2 stick butter
1 sprig rosemary, thyme, or sage (or a combination)
Prepare root vegetables. Wash and peel roots. Set-up a station (a large bowl of water or a sturdy stool at the sink) where kids can help scrub. Peel root vegetables. Chop into 1-2 inch pieces, letting your child help with a child-safe knife.
Cook root vegetables. Place parsnips and potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until roots are very tender.
While the potatoes and parsnips are cooking, simmer butter, milk, and herbs over low heat simmering briefly. Remove herbs.
Drain root vegetables. Add milk mixture and mash well. Season with salt and pepper.