Cooking up a way to healthy eating

fajitas beBy Christine Van Bloem

In today's world, healthy eating for families is all but an obsession. Moms and dads worry about every morsel that makes its way into their children's mouths, and even more so about the morsels that never stood a chance. Some believe that healthy eating for kids involves sneaking nutritious fruits and veggies into their foods, with the kids none the wiser. No doubt, parents across the land struggle with getting the good stuff off the kid's plates and into their bellies. It seems an almost universal problem. But here's the issue: What are we teaching our kids and why are we giving them the control over what they eat?

Eating healthy

Before you start thinking that I'm some maniac who beats her children in order to get them to eat their broccoli, let me assure you that I am not. I work hard, just like you, to teach my kids what foods are good, which are treats, and which are necessary. My husband and I take the challenge of having our kids to eat their veggies, but don't go overboard with the pressure. But, we're also not rocking out McD's that often either.

My approach is a bit more time-consuming than sneaking squash into mac and cheese, but seems to result in much happier, open-minded children overall: Get your kids cooking. Have them help you in the kitchen. Teach them how to cook. Teach them healthy eating from junk food eating by letting them shop with you and make decisions in the store. Give them some responsibility at dinnertime.

Healthier eating is a natural inclination these days, and we're not talking sprouts and tofu here, though that would certainly be ok if that's your thing. I'm talking about branching out from more than just chicken nuggets. One of the coolest things that I've learned in owning a cooking school is that when kids have a hand in making their meals, they are more apt to give new things a try.

How to get started? Let them plan the first meal, with your guidance of course. You can always add in a nice big salad to smooth out the rough edges. As you do this more and more frequently, start steering your child to a healthier option of a food they enjoy. Do they love chicken tenders? Make your own and bake them. It's actually pretty darn easy. You can even get started with our super-simple, yet uber-tasty chicken fajita recipe.

Easy Chicken Fajitas

(Serves 4)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

½ cup orange juice

¼ cup lime juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium red onion, sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded & sliced

1 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

salsa

cheese (just 1 Tablespoon per serving)

8 6 inch flour tortillas

Combine all ingredients except salsa, cheese, and tortillas in a one-gallon resealable bag. Seal well, shake gently to combine, and let marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour, or up to 8 hours.

Drain marinade from bag and discard. Preheat broiler and cover the bottom of a broil pan with foil. Coat top of broiler pan with non-stick spray.

Place chicken and vegetables on broiler pan, spreading out into an even layer. Broil for 5 to 7 minutes per side, 6 inches away from the heat, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Allow chicken to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Serve chicken and vegetables on a large platter. Warm tortillas gently in the microwave and serve with salsa and cheese.

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