Toddlers can be very fussy eaters. Sometimes toldders will go on food jags, requesting to eat same foods day in and day out. The trick to getting kids to eat an array of healthy foods is to make it appealing to the eye, creative, and delicious. Whether you are a parent or a licensed day care provider, consider the following lunches at home and at daycare:
- Fancy Sandwiches: Get out of the boring sandwich rut by making fancy, creative sandwiches using an assortment of breads and cookie cutters. Find cookie cutters in a variety of shapes and sizes and use them to cut the bread for super cool sandwiches. Children will be intrigued by your creativity and will be more apt to finish their sandwich. Also try switching up the bread. Plain white bread day to day can become mundane and uninteresting. There are a wide variety of breads to choose from that are made fresh at your local bakery to choose from like honey wheat, rye, asiago, tomato basil, pumpkin, focaccia, and ciabatta . Their unique flavors, colorful presentation, and textures can be appealing to young children.
- Mini Pizzas: Mini pizzas are a great alternative to sandwiches and a healthy alternative to pizza. Top whole wheat English muffins with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a host of veggies like tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, or broccoli. Let children take turns choosing their own healthy toppings. Broil the mini pizzas in a toaster oven or under the oven’s broiler.
- Whole Grain Crackers: Crackers are a great substitute for bread. You can take two large crackers like Wasa Hearty Rye Crisp bread and put sandwich fillings between them. As an alternative you can pack a lunch of whole grain crackers along with low fat cheese slices, sliced lean meats, and sliced veggies. Spread crackers with a variety of spreads like cream cheese, peanut butter, cottage cheese, whole fruit spread or mashed bananas.
- Wraps or Roll Ups. Tortillas are great for making sandwiches because they are less likely to get soggy. Wraps can be made with whole wheat tortillas. Add healthy combinations like lean cold cuts, grilled chicken and veggies and lowfat cheese. You can make rollups on a whole tortilla topped with all sorts of healthy fun toppings. Try lowfat cream cheese topped with veggie slices or dried fruits like raisins, apples, and apricots. You can even make rollups out of your usual sandwich toppings like peanut butter and jelly.
- Healthy Dips: Dips are a great way to provide a nutritious, deconstructed lunch. There are a variety of healthy, great tasting dips like fruit and yogurt dip, hummus dip, bean dips, and avocado dip. Cut whole grain bread into strips or cut pita bread into triangles for dipping. Sliced fruit and veggies can also be used as dippers.
It is important to offer young children choices from a wide variety of foods in an assortment of colors and textures presented in small portions. Also remember one of the responsibilities you hold as part of your child care job is being a role model. Children learn good eating habits from their role models. When an adult models good eating habits in childcare centers, helps instill good lifelong eating habits in young children.
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