To supplement my freelance/writing career, I recently took a job as a so-called “household manager” for a single dad and his lovely daughter Kate. Kate is six and about as sassy as they come. She is smart, supremely adorable and has become my best little sidekick in just one month’s time. Part of my role as her caregiver involves preparing her meals. I can say with all honesty that this has become one of the most difficult aspects of my life at the moment. While Kate will eat a piece of salmon (doused in teriyaki sauce, of course) on occasion, her diet mostly consists of goldfish, chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes with mounds of butter and mac n’ cheese. I’m a bonafide nutrition zealot, and these foods go against everything I believe in. What’s a nanny (or parent for that matter) to do?!
What’s even worse about this situation is that I’ve found myself nibbling on her leftovers. Not only is her little body not getting adequate nutrition but now mine has become a garbage dump too. Yikes. Something had to give. So I decided to turn it into a game. Namely, the Juicing Game. I explained that my cool silver juicer is the “board” and we can put whatever we want in it. Like an antioxidant rich version of “Easy Bake Oven,” my juicer has become a veritable chemistry lab for Miss Kate. Sometimes the results are not so great, but usually things turn out okay and she loves to drink her “creations.” This strategy is bound to work for any adventurous kids. Just follow a few guidelines below (based on trial and error) and I promise that your little one will be slurping down fresh pressed juice by the sippy-cup full.
The Juicing Game
1. Have your kids juice in the same color category. For example, they can do an all green juice (celery, kale, green apple, cucumber, etc…) or an orange/red juice (carrot, beet, etc…). Why follow this color-coded approach, you ask? Kids are more apt to consume substances in bright colors. Brown juice just won’t fly. Trust me.
2. Start sweet. Let’s be real… bitter veggie juice is hard for even us adults to choke down sometimes. Don’t expect your kiddos to worship plain kale juice right from the start. It ain’t gonna happen. Instead, start with palatable fruits that you know they’ll love. Apples, carrots, watermelon, oranges and mangos are all good choices.
3. Supervise closely. Explain how your magic juicer works and the mechanisms involved – specifically a sharp spinning blade and basket. Make sure that your kids are always keeping their hands out of the chute (if you have a centrifugal juicer) and that the chopping of veggies and fruits should also be taken seriously and only handled by adults. Since Kate loves to “do everything,” I combat this by chopping up the stuff while she’s playing in another room.
4. Make cool stuff with your juice! One of the best ways to get your kids to love the process of juicing even more is to use your juice to create kid-friendly foods like popsicles, soups, etc. Not only will you feel great knowing that your child is getting tons of great nutrients, but you’ll also be setting the little munchkin up for a lifetime of healthy food choices.
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