Welcome back! Here are some more helpful recommendationson plant-based eating for your family from Nasira, our registered dietitian:
Model good behavior. By consuming plant foods in front of your family members, they will be more likely to follow your example. Let them see you eating a salad, throwing veggies in your breakfast omelet, snacking on veggies and hummus, or eating the same vegetable the child has on their plate.
Offer unfamiliar healthy foods at least 8 to 15 times. Experts say it often takes this much repetition before children accept new foods! Unfortunately, adults often give up after a child rejects a food the first few times. In some cases, it takes a while for the child’s taste buds to get used to a new plant food. It may help to prepare the food in a new way that may be more appealing.
Visit a local Farmer’s Market. Meeting the farmers and letting your family choose which produce they want to take home can make children excited to try new things.
Share in the decision-making. Encourage parents to decide where and when eating will occur and what foods are offered. During meal time, allow the child decide which vegetable(s) to eat from a variety offered and how much to eat. When the child feels that they have some control over the situation, they are more likely to eat the chosen vegetable, increasing their vegetable consumption.
Make popcorn. Don’t forget that this tasty snack is a whole grain! Make it from scratch for a fun activity kids love, using a popcorn popper or even a paper bag. To enhance flavor, try misting with water from a spray bottle before salting and seasoning, rather than using butter, or simply sprinkle with some cinnamon!
Microwave ready-made frozen packs of brown rice or quinoa. These whole-grains are ready in three minutes. Quick-cooking brown rice is another good option and can be ready in 10-15 minutes.
Purchase whole-wheat snacks. Look for the word “whole” in the first ingredient (e.g., whole wheat, whole grain flour, whole oats) or even brown rice. “Wheat flour” or “enriched flour” does not mean whole grain, nor does the phrase “made with whole grains” – this can be a marketing tactic. Aim to buy snacks with 2 grams of fiber or more per 1 ounce serving. Also look out for added sugar and trans-fat. A package can say “no trans-fat” if it has less than 0.5 grams per serving, but this can add up if you consume several servings. It’s best to avoid foods with partially-hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list.
Eat more beans. Use black and pinto whole beans as part of your own taco or burrito meal, along with your favorite veggies. Garbanzo and kidney beans can be tossed in a salad for a delicious protein boost. Lentils and navy beans are a great addition to any soup or stew, or can be used as a substitute for ground meat for a vegetarian version of your favorite recipe!
Consider tofu or tempeh. These soy-based products take on the flavors of what they’re cooked with, so a vegetable stir-fry made with tofu instead of meat can be a tasty dish!
Snack on nuts. Nuts can make their own tasty snack, be used as a salad topper, or be eaten as a nut butter on whole-grain toast.
Go meatless one day per week. Dropping meat one day a week in favor of a plant-based protein, such as beans, will increase your fiber and phytochemical intake, lowering your cancer risk, without requiring a huge lifestyle overhaul. As an additional benefit, the average ounce of meat costs $0.25, but an ounce of dry beans is only $0.08, which is one-third the cost of meat! A weekly meatless eating plan could improve your health and save you money!
Encouraging your family to eat more plant foods should not be a struggle. With fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and legumes, there are plenty of options to choose from and numerous ways to prepare them to suit your family member’s taste buds. To learn more strategies that will work with your lifestyle and to help your family live a healthier life, contact our registered dietitian.