I started eating sushi when I was a toddler – yes, I am half Chinese, so perhaps the concept of rice that I was accustomed to made sushi more appealing, but I do remember LOVING tuna!! Especially dousing it in soy sauce (not so healthy – ha!). Many parents are skeptical about sushi because of the mercury content in tuna and other fish, but as long as it is in moderation and from a safe/clean restaurant or from a clean grocery store that sells “sushi grade” tuna, I think you and your children are fine. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that fish and shellfish under 12 oz. per week are an important part of a healthy diet for children and pregnant or nursing women. I see sushi as a great way to incorporate a more international diet palate for your child, and also can be quite healthy!
19% of all children are classified as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It seems as though children are always hungry, but turn their noses up at healthier food and opt for greasy (French fries / burgers / chicken tenders) or sugary foods instead. Not quite ready to give your kids raw fish? You can always use cooked food such as shrimp tempura or even making sandwiches look like sushi!
Disguising healthy foods by using fun ways of making nutritious snacks for children can take the focus on the ingredients and make healthy snacking an interesting part of your child’s day.
Sandwiches can be made nutritious with whole wheat bread and lean meat ingredients, but they might not always be attractive to children who’d rather have a peanut butter and jelly on white. Making sandwiches into sushi shapes and allowing kids to eat with chopsticks make it more fun. Make your sandwiches with ingredients that can be easily rolled, including meat and cheese. Then, flatten the sandwich and roll tightly. Slice the roll into half-inch thick pieces and offer with chopsticks.
Cut up a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, cheese and lean meat, into bite-sized squares, triangles and circles. Have your child wash her hands, and then set out a clean plate for her to make nutritious snack art using the shapes available. She’ll be enjoying making faces and pictures so much that she’ll hardly even notice as she pops a few pieces into her mouth for sampling. Once the picture is done, challenge her to eat everything on her plate.