As parents, we're all sharing the same priority: Shore up our families' mental and physical health. Nutrition is one of the easiest ways to boost immunity. But with full-time jobs inhibiting perfect cheffing, picky eaters of all ages, limited store runs, and other practical obstacles to perfect meal planning, we asked our Spartan parents to share their secrets to kids eating healthy at home.
How Spartan Parents Are Keeping Their Kids — and Themselves! — Eating Well
Tip #1: Set Up Snack Charts
Stephanie Fagan, Spartan Director of Email Marketing, Boston (Mom of Connor, 4, and Devin, 2)
The snack chart we created has been SO helpful! On our chart we have four categories of snacks, and we give the kids four stars each day. If they want a snack, they can have one snack from each category per day, and they need to "buy" their snack with their star. This limits them from having four yogurts per day, or four sugary snacks, and encourages the fruit or veggie options.
Star charts are so useful, and it's helped them have a balanced diet of snacks. They love "buying" the snacks. It's great!
Tip #2: Eat Local Honey and Hide Spinach in Smoothies
Kristen Dollard, Spartan VP of Content, New Jersey (Mother of Avery, 13, and Luke, 8)
Local honey can offer you more of honey's medicinal benefits, like potential anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Plus, bees keep flowers and local plants pollinated and alive. Luke now eats his "Essex Girl honey," named after my county, straight from the jar. Avery can't stomach spinach in salads but has been trying to get more iron in her diet. Her smoothies each morning now feature a whole cup of spinach.
Tip #3: Cook Together — From Scratch
Dashee Vavrova, Spartan Extreme Endurance Social Media Manager, London (Mother of Lyam, 8, and Llyon, 6)
We're cooking from scratch at least four times a week, and the kids always assist.
Tip #4: Trash the Junk Food
Robert McDonald, Spartan Customer Service Rep, Texas (Father of Jonas, 3) One thing I personally like to do is force myself not to have junk food, but rather have healthy alternatives in its place. I literally threw all of that away, so it forced me to go cold turkey during this time. I know that my weakness is in times of isolation, so I don't even tempt myself to go that route.
I've also created storage units to keep my place more organized, and Jonas loves to "cook with Dada." Jonas knows that he's allowed to take one basket of toys out at a time, and once he's done with that, he has to put all of that up before pulling out another basket.
PRO TIP: Three-ingredient pancakes is his favorite thing to cook with me. Blend up two eggs, a half-cup of raw oats, and one banana. You then season it as desired. My trick, though, is I freeze the bananas, which makes them sweeter. After blending, let it sit for 30 minutes, so the oats thicken the batter up.
Tip #5: Let the Teens Take Over
Marion Abrams, Spartan Up! Podcast Producer, Vermont (Mother of Wilbur III, 16, and Mac, 14)
Get the teens cooking. They can take over the kitchen and cook for you. You need the time off, and believe it or not, they'll often surprise you with what they whip up.
Tip #6. Just. Have. Fun.
Dr. Lara Pence, Spartan Chief Mind Doc, Colorado (Mother of Keaton, 5)
In the latest episode of Keaton's Kitchen, we make fresh bread, cinnamon rolls, and more. For us, food is a source of happiness.
Tip #7: Find a Fabulous Smoothie Recipe
Courtney De Sena, Wife of Spartan Founder, Vermont (Mother of Charlie, Jack, Catherine, and Alex)
A Simple Kids Shake: The Ingredients and Instructions
Add 4 cups of milk (any kind; we like almond milk)
Add a gigantic scoop of almond or peanut butter. (We like Barney Butter). In my opinion, this is where the yummy flavor comes in.
Add two scoops of hemp seeds. (raw, from Trader Joe’s)
Add one scoop of USANA chocolate protein powder
We also throw some frozen berries (blueberries or strawberries) in there, too. I like to keep it simple and blend it a lot. No ice. The frozen berries are icy enough.
Tip #8: Make Treats Healthier
Donny Jensen, Spartan VP of Marketing and Growth, New Jersey (Dad of Jewel, 5, and Jagger, 8)
My wife finds ways to make everything healthier. She also makes sure that my son can have healthy treats despite some food sensitivities. The kids love when they test recipes. We’re a bit of a test kitchen. I often take treats and try to make them less bad for you. Today, Jewel helped me make donuts three different ways.
I also modified a Betty Crocker recipe to make healthier cookies. It’s conserving my supplies, and they're not as bad for you. Check out the ingredients below.
3/4 cup of coconut sugar 1/2 cup of butter 1 tablespoon of vanilla 1 egg 1/2 cup of almond flour 1 tablespoon of baking soda 1 cup of mini chocolate chips
They have less butter, less sugar, less chocolate chips, and are gluten-free. Mini chocolate chips are the key to using less chocolate.