Create New Beginnings

9 tips for teaching children how to make nutritious choices
By Lynn Lafferty, PHARMD, ND, CNC, CNHP

Back to school is the best time to create “new” beginnings for children. Before school starts, sit down with your children and create goals for the year ahead. These goals might include achieving certain grades, participating in sports and music, or practicing certain levels of personal hygiene (especially important for teenagers).

It is important to tie what children eat with outcomes they want to achieve. To help children reach these goals, an important step is to teach them why and how to make nutritious choices. Children will “buy in” to new actions if they understand why the new actions are important. There are thousands of biochemical reactions in the body that help transform healthy muscles, bones, brain, teeth, and skin. Each reaction requires minerals and nutrients from our foods. When children eat healthy food, skin glows, hair shines, the brain remembers more for important exams, and the heart and muscles can work harder when playing sports.

Here are tips to help teach children how to make nutritious choices. Remember, children will “buy in” even more when they see their role-model parents doing it, too!

1. Eat breakfast. Studies show that when children eat breakfast they exhibit better behavior, score higher on tests, and are less hyperactive than children who skipped breakfast.

2. Visit a farmers market. Ask kids to smell the fruit, look at the colors, and pick one or two fruits they like. Fruits are designed to entice us to crave all the “good stuff” locked inside them.

3. Spices and herbs are lots of fun to taste and smell. Spice up your child’s favorite dish with them.

4. Go to the grocery store. Show kids how to read labels and let them pick out nutritious foods.

5. Buy a juicer and have fun making treats. Some juicers even make ice cream out of frozen fruit!

6. Prepare menus and meals together during the week.

7. Host a cooking party for teenagers as a fun way to encourage them to cook (and they always love to eat).

8. Use a good natural sweetener. Raw sugar, darkest maple, and agave syrups taste good, and the dark syrups are filled with B vitamins and minerals.

9. Give your kids whole-food supplements. These contain multi-vitamins from foods kids know, such as beets, carrots and mushrooms.


Herbal-Infused Apple Gluten-Free Muffins
Apples are one of the most famous fall fruits. Their texture, smell, and crunch make them a wonderful way to get vitamins and antioxidants. Additionally, apples help stabilize blood sugar and feed the good bacteria in the gut. One study showed eating an apple before a meal greatly reduced the amount the participants ate. Eating fruits like apples may have a positive effect on asthma as well.


Herbal Infusion Water Mix

1 stick cinnamon; or 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
8 cloves, whole

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups water*
*Use 1/4 cup of the infusion in recipe and drink the rest (it has a wonderful taste and benefit)


Apple Mix*

2 tablespoons organic butter; may substitute 1 tablespoon with water
1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups diced, semi-sweet apples (try Fuji or yellow apples, organic recommended)
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
* This also makes a great topping over ice cream or frozen bananas


Mufin Mix

3 cups gluten-free oat flour
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs; may substitute 2 tablespoons grape-seed veganaise
2 tablespoons organic butter

1. Grease twelve 21/2-inch muffin cups or line with paper liners; set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. To make herbal infusion, combine 1 stick cinnamon, 8 cloves, and 1-inch peeled ginger in 11/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse spices. Strain and set aside.

4. In a medium saucepan, combine apple mix. Melt butter over low heat. Add the raisins, walnuts, apples, sugar, butter, and cinnamon; stir. Heat for 5 minutes. Set aside.

5. In a large mixing bowl, stir together muffin mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, eggs, coconut oil, butter, and salt until moistened. Slowly add in 1/4 cup water from herbal infusion while mixing ingredients until reaching a smooth consistency.

6. Fold in apple mix. Chop and add 1/2 inch ginger from infusion to mixture.

7. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 15 to18 minutes or until golden.

8. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.


Lynn Lafferty is a pharmacist, naturopathic doctor, clinical nutritionist, and chef who has studied the pharmacology of food and whole-food nutrition for more than 10 years. She believes "Food is the Best Medicine;" combining good nutrition with whole food and herbal supplements.