March is National Nutrition Month, so it's the perfect time to show off nutrition knowledge with healthy meals and learn more together as a family. The word "nutrition" may not mean much to many kids, so create another word that has the same important meaning but is catchier and easier to grasp. When I was growing up my father always used the words "good food" whenever there was a meal on the table. He knew that to raise me and my five brothers and sisters to grow healthy and strong, he needed to provide "good food," but with his sneaky play on words he knew what he was really saying was "good nutrition."
Set a healthy-eating goal for the month, such as including fresh fruits and veggies into more meals each day. Encourageeveryone to work together. Here are some creative and quirky ideas to keep everyone on the same page and tasting some really "good food."
1. Have each person in the family choose a fruit and vegetable to add to the weekly shopping list. Be sure to put the weekly supermarket ads right on the kitchen table with big colorful markers for little ones to circle the pictures of fruits and veggies they want. I know that each of my three daughters’ number one choice would be broccoli. But having broccoli three nights in a row might be a bit too much, so we make an effort to include new veggies in the rotation.
2. Create a fun graph and place it on the refrigerator door to keep track of each family member’s favorite type of fruit or veggie.
3. Make a game out of it: Have you tried this fruit before? Introduce unusual fruits every couple of weeks. Share the history of the fruit and some interesting facts about it, like when it originally came to the U.S. or where it is grown.
4. Focus on the five senses when preparing fruits and veggies. Food really is all about seeing, feeling, smelling, hearing, and tasting. Ask the kids questions as they wash, cut, chop, cook, and prepare recipes. Does it feel ripe? Can you hear the sizzle? Doesn’t that smell amazing? Can you see the crispy edges? Describe the lip-smacking, yummy taste and flavor?
5. Kids love to cook, and by the age of 7 or 8 they are able to read through recipes and follow directions. This is the perfect time to start sharing and teaching the recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. Yes, my daughters just love their great-great-grandmother, Emily Shirley’s, persimmon pudding on Christmas Day. And on the healthier side, they will also devour a plate of artichokes in no time. No kidding!
Have fun during March and try one of our family’s favorite recipes:
Fruit Salsa (pictured above).