Many parents believe in the importance of healthy lifestyle choices for their children. But what nutritious foods would your children enjoy eating? Increasing numbers of parents are finding that raw food is the answer for little ones, too. Across the world, more and more people – both young and old – are singing the praises of a raw food diet. These advocates of rawfood (raw veganism, also known as known as “vitarianism”) include many celebrities, including tennis star Martina Navrátilová (like Lifefood, she is also of Czech origin!), Madonna and Sting. Rawfoods are not subjected to chemical processing, and if cooked, experience only low temperatures of around 42-45°C, ensuring the unadulterated preservation of food nutrients beneficial to human health.
Mothers of very small children in particular will certainly welcome the fact that rawfoods are essentially the most natural and pure form of meal available. Raw delicacies, made with dried fruits, nuts or seeds provide healthy snacks and desserts. They don’t contain processed sugar, refined flours, hydrogenated fats, E-numbers or any artificial additives.
Anyone who thinks that the diet of a vitarian is akin to a cow chewing on nothing but grass is in for a surprise. The scope of rawfoods includes a bountiful variety of tasty and healthy choices. From fruit and vegetable salads; refreshing fruit and vegetable juices; raw biscuits and breads; nut cheeses; vegetable sausages; right through to luxurious raw ice-creams and other desserts; pancakes and even raw cheesecake – there’s so much to choose from!
Yet children can often turn their noses up at the idea of healthy food. One key reason is that they are used to eating over-sweetened and over-salted processed snacks. So how to guide them successfully towards more nourishing offerings in a way that will be enticing and fun for all the family? Patience is crucial. The benefits of a healthy diet will reap rewards both for them and for you.
How to kindle children’s enthusiasm for fresh and healthy foods?
Start with sweet veggies
Most children are used to cooked foods containing flavour-enhancing ingredients. Try to incorporate beneficial rawfood components into your child’s existing meals. For example, any sliced sweet vegetables that your young one enjoys – very often diced vegetables are more popular than mixed salads. Ensure dishes contain cucumbers, carrots, peas or other seasonal vegetables.
A different kind of soup
If you have any fans at home of classic cooked soups, then try adding a side dish of mungo bean or lentil sprouts to the meal. Soups can also be supercharged with a handful of soaked or even germinated sunflower seeds, or by sprinkling a handful of nuts around the edge of the plate. Over time, keep adding more and more of such rawfood to meals.
Add fresh fruit to teatime meals every day, making the addition as playful and vivid as possible. Children will quickly become used to bits of fruit happily cut into all sorts of shapes, which they can also have a go at making themselves, perhaps with the aid of pastry cutters.
A joint effort
Try to involve your kids in food preparation activities. Whether they are helping you lay the table, serve food, stack a fruit dessert, or mix a smoothie, participation in the preparation of meals for mum, dad, guests – and themselves – will help cement precious family-time rituals, and foster an increased enthusiasm for and appreciation of quality food.
Blending takes centre stage
Many children prefer fruit to be blended into a puree or inside a pudding. Smoothies are our take on this. Such “blends” can even contain some green leaves (for example lettuce, spinach, corn salad, parsley leaves or carrot top), which are among the most nutritious vegetables, and make a great combination with fruit. Some kids are put off by anything coloured green, so start off with just a small infusion, and perhaps increase the amount over time. And most importantly, talk to your children about what they are eating; this will nurture an understanding of healthy food as a crucial element of the dining experience from an early age.
For kids with truly sweet teeth
Some children just can’t do without their sweet fix. But they too can learn that treats and snacks can be healthy as well as tasty. You will be surprised how quickly they take to raw desserts and snacks from quality fruits, nuts and seeds. We bet these two versions of nutritious, fun and easy to make desserts based on chia seeds will become a regular in your home. Chia pudding with berries for the summer season and Kiwi and Brazil nuts chia pudding for the winter! Lifefood offers a rich selection – for example, try the moist Lifebar fruit bars available in cherry, fig or apricot varieties, Flax Rolls, or other Sweet Treats.
Introducing rawfood to children serves as a prime example of how a patient approach will yield strong dividends. Don’t be tempted to take radical measures, suddenly excluding all cooked and baked foods from your child’s diet, and forcing them to sob over an alien-looking bowl of salad or go hungry. Rather, take incremental steps towards introducing your child to new healthy food items. Join your children in discovering fresh and exciting new tastes. Give them plenty of time to get used to each novelty. Rawfood isn’t a chore, but rather a fun and exciting healthy option – and one packed full of delicious tastes!