Saturday, June 30, 2012

Vegetables for teenagers

Teenage years can be a turbulent time for young people. Social and academic pressures, combined with rapidly changing bodies make this phase challenging for both teens and their parents. Providing food for teens is different from feeding younger children. It is important to understand and listen to your teen when planning meals and snacks. Allow your teen to have a certain amount of control over what they eat.

Be a good role model
It is important that you and your family are all seen to be eating and enjoying the taste of fresh vegetables. Incorporate fresh vegetables as often as you can into your own meals and snacks.

Encourage your teen
Make positive comments when your teen chooses vegetables and encourage them to eat 5+ A Day.

Keep lots of fresh vegetables in the house

Stock the fridge with vegetables and place them at the front so they are easy to see and grab. If vegetables are readily available, your teen is more likely to choose them for snacks and meals.

Shop together for groceries

Plan a trip to the supermarket or green grocer with your teen. Start by making a list of the things you will need to buy. This will help keep you on track when you are at the store. Be sure to include vegetables for lunches, dinners and snacks. When at the supermarket ask your teen to select one new vegetable they would like to try that week. Encourage your teen to help you prepare that vegetable for a family meal. Alternatively, have your teen pick all the vegetables for at least one meal per week.

Cook and eat meals together

Learning how to cook is an important life lesson. Involve your teen with preparing healthy meals and snacks and show them different ways to cook their favourite vegetables. With new vegetables, encourage your teen to help you in its preparation. Teens are more likely to try something when they have helped prepare it. Although eating together can be a challenge because everyone has busy schedules, try to make it a priority. Talking and connecting with your teen is an important part of family time and it will also help slow down the pace of the meal to prevent overeating.

  • Wash and cut up raw vegetables and keep in an air-tight container or re-sealable bags in the fridge. Having vegetables and dips readily available makes for quick and easy snacks. Try vegetables such as carrot sticks or baby carrots, celery, cucumber or courgette sticks, cauliflower, grape tomatoes, green, yellow, orange or red peppers, and uncooked or blanched fresh green beans.
  • Keep burrito wraps available. These freeze well and make a great snack when filled with grated carrot, lettuce, chopped tomatoes and beans.
  • Boost the nutrition in sandwiches by adding tomatoes, lettuce, peppers or other vegetables.
  • Add grated vegetables such as carrot or courgette to pasta sauces.
  • Replace some of the meat in casseroles with chopped seasonal vegetables.

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