Chef Wendell: Model good eating habits for kids

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -Today’s children are tomorrow’s citizens. You don’t want them to grow up into lousy adults. Every parent wants their child to be the next child prodigy or a budding sports superstar. But have you ever examined whether your child is being feed the right tools needed to grow up to achieve such greatness?

Mom and Dad, are you modeling proper dietary behaviors? If your kids won’t eat their colorful vegetables, look to yourself in the mirror. Parents tend to project their food fears upon kids open little minds. You are their first teacher. Until they are 18, kids need high quality, fresh, real food in order to grow big and strong. A diet of dead junk food contains but a teensy fraction of the 40 vitamins and minerals kids little bodies need each and every day. Sadly, today’s name brand foods aimed at kids are nutritionally bankrupt.

Parents and celebrated media personalities tend to project their food fears and affinity for unhealthy foods upon kids and their open little minds. Misery loves company. Children weren’t born to hate highly nutritious veggies; they were taught or influenced by people they look up to. If role models eat unhealthy foods, then the kids will follow their lead. Pure and simple!

May I suggest allowing the kids decide for themselves whether they like or dislike a certain vegetable? Kids are born with a natural love for the heavenly vegetables that feed their growing and hungry cells that need proper nutrition to build little bodies. The foods kids eat today, obviously, are not so good. Just look around. Rates of childhood obesity and diabetes soar unchecked. We only need look at the corporately designed Standard American Diet (SAD). SAD indeed.

Having a balance of both physical and mental stability is vital for a child to achieve great things in life. Diet plays an enormous role. Are you setting a good example for your kids? Parental changes in the perception of eating healthy has seen a return to kids eating more real and less processed foods. Great news!A Compose Salad for Children (And resistant adults)

Even the most resistant kids (and adults) will enjoy assembling this composed salad together- A super-feast for the eyes and tummy. People and especially kids, eat with their eyes first: If it looks good, it’ll taste good too.

Arugula, kale, romaine or dark leafy greens, washed, dried, cut and ready for salad

Jar of pickled beets, drained (Not Harvard beets in sugar)

Sliced yellow zucchini, green & red peppers, carrots, red onion, avocado and cucumbers

Grape tomatoes, halved

Black and green pitted olives

Boiled egg, quartered

Peas, frozen, not canned

Cubes of low-fat cheese

Tuna fish or Salmon (From a bag or last nights’ dinner, not a can coated with BPA)

Roasted Spanish peanuts, not honey roasted or Beer nuts (Sorry)

• Spread a base of greens evenly onto a large dinner plate.

• One at time, begin to compose a salad ‘work of art” by placing the salad topping in groups around the base of greens.

• Think of balance and color contrast. People eat with their eyes first.

• Garnish with Spanish peanuts with nutritious skinsThe Classic Vinaigrette

Instead of boring, predictable Ranch Dressing (Ugh), teach yourself and the kids how to make the most basic, easy peasy salad dressing. It costs pennies a portion too.

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. Vinegar (Red wine, Apple Cider Vinegar or non-hydrogenated vegetable oil

1 clove minced, fresh garlic

Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste

• Place the oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Close the lid, and shake vigorously to blend. Use right away, or store in the refrigerator.These “Top Six Vitamins and Minerals for Kids” can be obtained from a balanced, unprocessed diet. In the alphabet soup of vitamins and minerals, a few stand out as critical for growing kids. (WebMD)

Vitamin A promotes normal growth and development; tissue and bone repair; and healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses. Good sources include milk, cheese, eggs, and yellow-to-orange vegetables like carrots, yams, and squash.

Vitamin B’s. The family of B vitamins — B2, B3, B6, and B12 — aid metabolism, energy production, and healthy circulatory and nervous systems. Good sources include meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, beans, and soybeans.

Vitamin C promotes healthy muscles, connective tissue, and skin. Good sources include citrus fruit, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, and green vegetables like broccoli.

Vitamin D promotes bone and tooth formation and helps the body absorb calcium. Good sources include milk and other dairy products, and fish oil. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight.

Calcium helps build strong bones as a child grows. Good sources include milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and calcium-fortified orange juice.

Iron builds muscle and is essential to healthy red blood cells. Iron deficiency is a risk in adolescence, especially for girls once they begin to menstruate. Good sources include beef and other red meats, turkey, pork, spinach, beans, and prunes.

Megavitamins — large doses of vitamins — aren’t a good idea for children. The fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) can be toxic if kids overdose on excessive amounts. Ditto with iron. Your kids can get too much of a good thing. WebMD.com.