Much research in the past decade has reported the benefits of a diet high in fresh plant-based nutrition. Raw fruits and vegetables, sprouts, sea vegetables, and nuts and seeds are vitamin and mineral packed, nutrients which can be severely depleted through the cooking process by 70 to 85%, says many sources.¹
These natural, living foods provide “life force energy,” so encouraging children to create healthy, tasty snacks, smoothies, salads, main meals and desserts can enhance their abilities in all areas.
Benefits of Increasing Fresh Plant Foods Into Your Child’s Diet
Upon increasing fresh plant foods into the diet, these are some of the improvements in health and well-being that parents have pointed out to me personally:
- reduction or absence of eye, ear, nose and throat infections,
- increased energy and attention spans,
- enhanced ability to process information,
- less hyperactivity,
- strengthened immune systems,
- enhanced athletic capability, and
- increased brainpower.
Processed Foods Vs. Fresh Food Diet
How does a parent start to bring increased fruits and vegetables into a child’s diet with all the toxic choices in the world today?
Children are regularly programmed to believe that fast food and processed food are most appropriate in the busy, stressed-out lives many people lead. Most school cafeteria food is loaded with high fat, processed and anti-nutrient food. We want the food we offer to our children to be nourishing and yet all these foods are lacking in nutrients. Packaged, processed and refined foods are deplete of Vitamin C, folic acid and Vitamin B1, which can not be absorbed upon synthetically added supplementation.
Green Smoothies For Kids
Green smoothies are a great way for kids to start eating the mineral-dense green leafy vegetables. Kids often love fruit, and adding fruit and greens together into a delicious green smoothie packs a lot of nutrition in one food. I demonstrate the following green smoothie at schools, colleges and universities, and the students always love the taste. I recommend starting with 60% fruit and 40% green leafy vegetables. This should be made at home in the morning, takes only about five minutes, and can either be eaten for breakfast or sent to school to be eaten later for lunch:
Pina Colada Smoothie:
2 ripe bananas
1 big chunk pineapple
1 large handful of baby spinach
2 cups of filtered water
Blend until smooth and relish that your child will be getting the abundant vitamins from the fruit and plentiful amounts of vitamins and minerals from the spinach, which is also 49% in protein by calorie. Pack it in a glass jar or stainless steel thermos. This smoothie can be so filling that for some children it’s a meal.
Kids Love Healthy Dips
Dips are a fabulous way for kids to eat their sliced vegetables. My kids loved a “Creamy Cucumber Dill Dip” that they learned to prepare by themselves. They would eat loads of sliced veggies, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, etc. with this nutritious dip:
Creamy Cucumber Dill Dip:
1 cup chopped cucumber
3 Tablespoons soaked pine nuts
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 soaked and pitted dates
1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
1 to 2 stalks celery
Blend all ingredients until smoothy and creamy. Add more dill if desired. Dips can be packed in tight containers to be used with a variety of sliced vegetables at lunch.
A Hearty, Healthy Taco or Wrap Filling For Kids
You may ask, “What about something more filling to quench my child’s appetite?” Since children love wraps and eating burrito-style, let’s invent a yummy and healthy Almond Taco filling which can be used inside a whole grain wrap or, more nutritious, a soft cabbage leaf or Romaine lettuce leaf used as the wrap.
Almond Taco Filling:
1 cup almonds, soaked 8-12 hours
1/2 cup lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 15 minutes, chopped
2 Tablespoons red onion (young children will not like this so add for older children)
1 teaspoon each cumin, coriander, and paprika
Put all ingredients into a food processor with an S-blade. Process until smooth, or until the consistency of a traditional bean dip. Add a little water if needed. Place in whole grain wrap or lettuce or cabbage wrap. Top with fresh made salsa and mashed avocado. (For lunch this should be packed separately as the lettuce or cabbage will get messy and soft from the taco filling).
Transitioning Your Child From A Processed Food Palate To A Fresh Food Palate
If you believe the above lunch options will be thrown in the garbage and replaced by fast foods and processed foods, then there are ways to emphasize raw plant fusion into more easily accepted foods.
There are wonderful ways of incorporating fresh, nutrient-dense plant foods with whole cooked foods. For example, my son has always loved Taboule, which is a middle eastern combination of bulghur (boiled cracked wheat), parsley, tomato, lemon, olive oil, and scallion. For many years I was able to substitute the bulghur wheat with fresh cauliflower ground up in a food processor, but later he insisted on the cooked bulghur wheat. I switched the cauliflower for the bulghur but also added diced cucumber and sometimes even celery so the Taboule was loaded with fresh plant nourishment.
When my son and his friends want to eat sandwiches, I make salad sandwiches consisting of lettuce, tomatoes and a tablespoon of black bean spread or hummus (a spread made of garbanzo beans) on sprouted whole grain bread with lots of carrots, celery and red pepper on the sides.
Even those who are not willing to give up processed foods can make nutritional improvement simply by adding a salad before an unhealthful meal. One mother brought a beautiful big bowl of salad when her children attended a pizza party, and all the children at the party joined in eating salad before having the pizza.
It is our responsibility as parents to pack healthy lunches for our children when they are away from home, and to teach them about the superior foods. Uncooked greens, fruits, vegetables, and soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds are called “live” (rhymes with thrive) foods because they have their nutrients intact. Living foods don’t contain the chemicals created by high cooking temperatures, and their vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber remain whole² . Complete nutrition, undamaged by fire, helps to prevent disease, reduce weight and increase energy.³
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SAFbaby Health Expert Adviser, Karen Ranzi, M.A.
Vibrant health author and lecturer, Karen Ranzi, M.A. has published her book, Creating Healthy Children. Karen has traveled widely, spreading the word about the power of plant-based nutrition for families. She has been interviewed on radio and TV, recently on talk shows of the Gary Null Progressive Radio Network. Karen has received enthusiastic audiences for her wellness workshops at the University of South Carolina, Penn State University and Ramapo College.
Karen is a writer for Get Fresh!, Vibrance, Super Sustainable Life, and Green Child Magazines. Karen is also a speech therapist specializing with autistic children since 2002. In addition to speech and language improvement, she has also helped her students to improve their health. For more information, visit Superhealthychildren.com
¹ Spiritual Nutrition by Gabriel Cousens, M.D.
²80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Douglas Graham)
³Raw Knowledge by Paul Nison.