Learn from marketing gurus to get kids to eat healthy

Appearances are everything.

Despite everything we teach kids about not judging a book by it’s cover, kids judge food immediately based on its’ appearance.

A recent study published in the journal Appetite, found that children ate more fruit when it was designed into a colorful hedgehog decoration rather than the same fruit that was served plainly in cubes.

This isn’t news to marketers who have been using attractive packaging, toys and cartoon characters to market to children for years. Think of Ronald McDonald, the Trix bunny and Toucan Sam. These cartoon characters are aimed at pushing low-nutritional food to 3 to 5 year old children.

But, young children aren’t doing the shopping, so how does this work? In one word: nagging. A study published in the August issue of Journal of Children and Media found that product packaging, cartoon characters and exposure to commercials are three main contributors to children nagging their parents for these unhealthy foods.

But food manufacturers and fast food chains are now feeling the pressure to abandon their cartoonish mascots, given the media attention on the alarming increase in childhood-obesity. One iconic mascot has recently been ‘dethroned’ as his title as King of burgers. This week Burger King retired their King mascot from their advertising campaign.

This move could work out great for parents who are trying to get their kids to eat healthier. As the junk food bandits go into hiding, parents can use the same technique that marketers are been using for years on your own healthy cooking. Create your own healthy eating superheros and characters.

 

I’m not an artist, but I just played around with a few simple techniques to transform fiber-filled brown rice, olives and low-fat cheese into “Little Red Riding Hood.” I simply steamed brown rice in my rice cooker and added a bit of red food coloring to dye it pink. Using an ice cream scooper, I formed a small ball and gave her olive eyes, cheese and salami flower ‘bow’, salami hat and cheese mouth. Normally my daughter wouldn’t be thrilled with brown rice for lunch, but when she saw “Little Red Riding Hood” she couldn’t wait to gobble her up, just like the Big Bad Wolf.

 

Do you have any “marketing” techniques you use with your kids to get them to eat healthier? I’d love to hear from you!

Eat Your F**king Vegetables

Have you heard of the book Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach?  If so, you’ll get this post. If not, go buy the f**ing book for a good laugh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat Your F**king Vegetables


The ranch dressing is on the side, my love

I’ve steamed the carrots just how you like

Eat them up real quick

And I’ll buy you a brand new bike

Please eat your f**ing vegetables

 

I’ve sculpted sailboats from peppers

And avocado butterflies

I’ve snuck zucchini in muffins

And stuck to my lies

Now eat your f**ing vegetables

 

Do you like the homemade spring roll

Or the brussel spourts snowman

I roasted your favorite potatoes

And got burned on the pan

Eat your f**ing vegetables

 

You like food on a stick

I slaved hours making veggie kabobs

I skewed all of your favorites

Tomatoes, Squash and Broccoli raab

Open up and eat your f**king vegetables

 

I spent all day on Sunday

Packing your lunch for school

I heard you threw it in the trash

That is so not cool

That’s it….eat your f**king vegetables

 

I want you to grow up strong and healthy

And I love you more than life itself

When you are a grown man

I want you to have more than chicken nuggest on your shelf

So stop complaining and eat your f***king vegetables

 

**Disclaimer – I love my kids more than anything in the world and would never utter these words to them, but c’mon parents, tell me that you’ve never actually thought these words?

Top Five Tips for a Nutritious Make-Ahead Lunch

Do you need healthy make-ahead meal ideas? Look no further than Eastside Make-Ahead Mamas! Their site is filled with delicious, easy and nutritious make-ahead recipes.

While you’re there, check out my guest blog post Top Five Tips for a Nutritious Make-Ahead Lunch! The post is part of my series on healthy lunch ideas. In case you missed it, I broke down and bought Lunchables for my kids for camp and then found out how shockingly unhealthy they are. I researched lunch ideas and found that food on a stick, cookie cutters and edible art are three ways to transform a boring lunch into a fun lunch your kids will actually eat. Look for my other tips later this week.

Do you have any make-ahead ideas you can share? What are your go-to make-ahead meals for your family? I would love to hear from  you!

Healthfully,

Stacy

Healthy Lunch Series Tip #3: Make Edible Art

I hope you are enjoying this series of blog posts on making healthy lunches for your kids. If you missed the first two posts in the series, make sure to check out Everything Tastes Better on a Stick and Cookie Cutters Are Your Friend.

Today’s tip revolves around something I definitely struggle with: creativity. Making edible art may seem like something from Cupcake Wars, but you don’t have to be a professional chef or an artist to play with your food.

Take for example these cute little pepper sailboats (picture above) that I made from a sliced orange pepper, hummus and baked pita chips. These took minutes to make and required no more effort than serving them separately, but this creative design got my son to actually try hummus. He discovered that he likes hummus, but under normal circumstances, he would have never tried it.

My daughter and I made these butterfly apples together and this was a fun way to include fruits and veggies in a simple snack. I showed her how to put it together at home and she had fun showing her friends how to assemble her creation during lunch.

 

 

 

 

Another fun project your kids can assemble during lunch are food faces. Pack a variety of fruits and veggies to make the face and your kids will have fun using their creativity to put it all together.

 

 

 

 

 

I came up with this little trick one snowy day in January and have been using it ever since: Brussels Sprouts Snowmen. My kids love these and it is so easy! Just saute brussels sprouts with a little olive oil and sea salt and place three on a tooth pick. These stay together even in a lunch box and tastes good hot or cold.

There are tons of other fun designs you can make with your food. Visit Craft Gossip, Incredible Edible Crafts or Family Fun for more creative food ideas.

Do you have any creative ideas for making food fun for your kids? Feel free to post a link to your site, blog or picture on the blog! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Healthy Lunch Series: Tip #1: Everything tastes better on a stick

As I mentioned last week in my post about the Lunchables, my kids are in summer camp which means that I have to pack a healthy lunch every day that is:

  • Nutritious
  • Peanut-free
  • Affordable
  • Quick
  • Something my kids will actually eat and enjoy

and

  • Provides my kids with the energy they need for an action-packed camp
  • Can sustain long periods without refrigeration
  • Doesn’t require a microwave

 

You know what a challenge this can be.

My kids quite enjoyed their Lunchable filled week, but I set out to improve the nutrition and quality of their lunches.

I talked with other moms and conducted some research on how to make a nutritious lunch that meets all of my above critieria. I have so many great tips to share that I’m going to make this topic a series, so look for daily tips and recipes over the ten days as I countdown my top ten healthy lunch tips. In the meantime, today’s post is focused on tip #1: Everything tastes better on a stick.

I love kabob’s. Place boring ham, cheese, fruit and veggies on a stick and instantly you transform a ho-hum lunch into something kids will actually eat.

Today I made fruit kabobs with watermelon, cantaloupe and grapes. I simply used a melon baller to scoop out watermelon and cantaloupe balls, then I alternated them on a wooden skewer. This simple technique makes eating fruit fun!

Skewer possibilities are endless. Try sandwich kabobs, which have bread chunks, cheese, cubes of turkey and cherry tomatoes. Another family favorite is chicken kabobs. I use leftover homemade chicken breast nuggets, cut into cubes, with mozzarella cheese, grapes and zucchini. For additional healthy lunch and snack ideas visit Fixmeasnack.com. What is your favorite kabob recipe? Please share!