"Ugh, you have got to be kidding! Please don't make me eat that!" Teenagers can be some of the pickiest eaters on the planet. But are they really being picky or are they just exercising their newly discovered freedoms? For some, it might actually be both. So, how do you get teens to eat healthier foods? As a mom with a full house, it's tricky finding things everyone will agree on, including toddlers and teens - two of the pickiest age groups, in my experience. If you want to increase healthy eating habits in teens, you'll likely need to make some adjustments.
Pack interesting, yet healthy lunches. If you pack your teen a lunch that contains her least favorite veggies, expect her to toss or trade it. This may mean she ends up with vending machine goodies or fast food. Neither is likely to be a healthy choice. Instead, always pack her favorite fruits, grains, veggies, and more. Use tasty, but healthy sides and dips to accent the main course. Opt for fat free ranch dressing if your teen likes to dip his veggies. Use fat free yogurt as a fruit dip. Spreadable fruit is a healthier option than jellies and jams. Let her choose from a list of suggested items. This helps ensure she likes what she is eating. Remember to have her pick options from each food group to keep the meals balanced.
Always have healthy snacks in plain view. Leave sliced fruits, veggies, and healthy dips out on the counter near snack times. Teens are likely to grab and much if something is right there. Unsalted mixed nuts, carob chips, low-fat cheese and whole grain crackers, and dried fruits are also easy and tempting. If you leave out snacks like this, your teens may not even think about the other stuff that's unhealthy. They'll already be full from the healthy options. After a while, they can become so accustomed to this, that similar healthy eating options may be second nature.
Don't have unhealthy options around. If access to unhealthy choices is unavailable, teens are more likely to choose healthy eating habits. In this case, they may be doing it because they have no other choice. But it also can create a subconscious pattern that stays with them. If they aren't accustomed to unhealthy foods, they are less likely to crave them. You can't control what is available at their friend's houses. But creating a habit consisting of mainly nutritious options assists in developing healthy eating habits for life.
Talk about your own struggles. You may think your teens aren't listening and they may roll their eyes at you when you tell them certain things. But they definitely hear you and they listen more than you think they do. They just may not want you to know that information. Tell your teens about the mistakes you made as a teen regarding healthy eating habits. Explain how you solved those issues and the differences that occurred because of the lifestyle changes.
Watch movies surrounding nutrition issues. Sometimes teens may need to see the damages unhealthy eating can cause. Scientific videos, as well as dramatic life stories are helpful in this area. Both the technical and lifestyle aspect are needed to illustrate the point fully. When your teen sees the impact that healthy eating habits can make on his life as a whole, it will become easier to make positive choices.
Teaching your teen about healthy eating habits is not always about lecturing. It's ore about proactive consistency and allowing the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. Talk to your teen's doctor about proper dietary habits.
Healthy Snacks Kids Love
Most children cringe when they hear the words, "Eat it. It's good for you." I've got some recipes that will change your children's thoughts of what healthy means.
Here's what I throw into this hearty trail mix I make for my kids. You'll need a gallon-sized storage bag for this. Freezer bags work best because they hold heavier ingredients.
1. 1 large bag of Pecans
2. 1 small bag of peanuts (Add more if peanuts are favored in your house. We prefer other nuts more.)
3. 1 medium bag of cashews
4. one-half bag of pretzels
5. one-half bag of dried cranberries
6. one bag of sunflower nuts (without the shells)
7. one bag of pumpkin nuts/seeds (without the shells)
8. one bag of spicy sesame sticks
9. one half bag of carob chips (like chocolate chips, but way less sugar)
10. one half bag of butterscotch carob chips
11. one half bag of yogurt covered raisins
12. one small bag dried banana chips
You can also add any dried fruit or nut that your kids like to personalize it.
Just throw all the ingredients into the storage bag and shake.
This makes for an easy and healthy snack to send to school with your child for snack time, works as an after school snack, and is also great for nature walks and camping. This is a versatile snack that is packed with protein, carbs, and fruits for superb energy and also for making sure your child gets those fruits in. Be careful. This can be an addicting snack. Once you make it, they'll ask for it again and again.
This is something that should be kept around every day.
For this one, you should purchase a chips and salsa tray that has two salsa compartments, although we won't use it for chips and salsa. It works well for this snack.
Here's what you need:
1. raw celery
2. raw carrots
4. cheddar and/or mozzarella cheese brick
5. plain yogurt
6. fat free ranch dressing
7. raw broccoli florets
8. raw cauliflower florets
9. raw sugar snap peas or snow peas
10. raw string beans
11. smashed or blended strawberries (just a few for flavoring)
12. sliced honeydew melon
13. sliced watermelon
14. sliced apples
Cut up all the vegetables and slice the cheese. Arrange it all around the sides of the tray.
In a separate dish, pour in some yogurt (slightly under enough to fill one of the dipping sections of your tray) and mix in the smashed strawberries. Now pour the mixture into one of the dipping sections of the tray.
Next, pour some fat free ranch into the other dipping section of your tray.
The yogurt mixture is for dipping the fruits. The ranch section is for dipping the vegetables.
When the kids home from school, set out this tray. It's also a good thing to have out during dinner preparation. Many people get hungry while dinner is being made and tend to snack because the aromas of the food make them hungry. At least this way, the snack will be healthy.
For a funny family activity, you could challenge family members to see who is brave enough to dip the veggies in the fruit dip and the fruit into the ranch. This can be hilarious and gets the family interacting with each other.
All you need is a blender, some orange or lime sherbet, and 3 of your child's favorite fruits.
Toss it all into the blender. Blend for about 2 minutes and there you go.
The sherbet provides the thick, frozen consistency needed and the fruit provides the nutrition.
Pita Pocket O' Fun
My kids love this.
You'll need an open pita pocket for each kid.
Just supply an array of fruits and trail mix or an array of vegetables and meat. Let your child select what they want and pack it in. Just remember that when using the meat, the child must have vegetables. They can't choose just meat.
Kids enjoy this one because they get to choose what they want.
Make Up Your Own
Now that you have an idea of the types of snacks kids enjoy, you may be thinking up your own ideas. Go ahead and experiment. Kids love variety, so it's important to try new things often. If you don't give your kids new and different options often enough, they will become picky eaters. Now, put all those creative ideas to use and start snacking. Your kids are sure to be hungry after school, so that's the best time to try new ideas. If you come up with a really good one, be sure to write your own article and share the link in the comments section.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Quick and Cheap Homemade Pizza Recipe
If you're like me, then you prefer homemade pizza to any other. But making pizza can get pretty costly if you aren't careful. There are many ways I like to make homemade pizza. Here is my favorite quick and easy homemade pizza recipe for those on a budget.
For this quick and easy budget homemade pizza, you'll need a low-cost way to make the crust. Homemade is the lowest-costing, but unless you have prepared some the night before, it isn't very quick. The next best thing is to purchase pizza crust in a bag or box. I prefer Martha White brand pizza crust. It comes in a small bag and is usually about 75 cents per bag. Usually the ones that come in boxes are twice as much but make the same amount of dough.
Anyhow, you'll also need some low-cost pizza sauce that also tastes good. I find that the Hunt's brand tomato sauce gives me the flavor I'm looking for at a low price - usually just a little over a dollar. Plus, if you buy the plain one that is just pure tomato sauce, it can be flavored how you want. I like to add garlic, pepper, and oregano. What, no salt? Well you can add what you want, but I'm not too big on salt and leave it out of many of my recipes if at all possible. Besides, my pizza usually contains pepperoni, which already contains salt.
That leads us to the next ingredient - pepperoni. I find that the cheapest pepperoni slices that still have flavor are the Kroger brand pepperoni slices. I have a big family, so of course I am going to be buying a large package. Today I bought a large package of Kroger brand pepperoni slices for just under three dollars.
What's a pizza without cheese? My favorite cheese is actually mozzarella, so it makes sense that I make homemade pizza often. I most often use mozzarella cheese for my homemade pizza. It's low-cost and stretchy, as pizza cheese should be. Mixing Pepper-jack cheese with the mozzarella works well also and gives some variety. Parmesan is also a common pizza cheese. I find mozzarella and pepper-jack to be two of the most budget-friendly options for homemade pizza.
If you'd like toppings other than pepperoni and cheese, but would still like to keep the cost low, try mushrooms in a can, sliced black olives in a can, sliced jalapenos in a jar, and marinated artichokes in a small jar. The artichokes are usually a little over a dollar and the mushrooms, jalapenos, and olives are usually less than a dollar.
To actually prepare the pizza, follow the directions for preparing the dough. Once you have the dough flattened and shaped to your pizza pan, pour some sauce in the middle of the dough in a circle. Take a spoon and circle around the sauce until it spreads in an even circle around the crust dough at the point you want it to be.
Then, sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the sauce at an amount to your liking. Now, because I have kids, I put the mushrooms and artichokes on first and then cover those with the pepperoni. They may know they are there already, but I think it helps them forget there are vegetables on the pizza. Other parents will understand the purpose behind that.
Now, stick the pizza in the oven at the recommended temperature on the pizza crust package. It generally takes about 10-15 minutes to cook. Watch for browning crust and bubbling cheese. That will tell you that the pizza is done. The only thing left to do after that is eat. Enjoy!
-- Note that any reference to any particular product/s in the above document is based solely on the opinion of the author. The author has not been compensated by the product company/companies in monies, gifts, or monetary awards for the mention of said product/products.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons; Public Domain
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans network. She is your brand healing, soul healing, marketing & content superhero to the rescue! Running a network of websites, tackling deadlines single-handedly, and coaching fellow writers, brands, & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is her top priority.
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