Getting your kids to eat healthy is often a challenge -- especially when you're pressed for time or you're traveling and only have fast-food options. This question came up in an interview I recently did and here are some of the highlights:
Q: How do you keep kids eating healthy while traveling?
CA: If you are getting on the road or on a plane, it is smart to not only eat right before you go out the door, but pack sandwiches too. When you are hungry on a long airplane flight it is amazing how tasty that homemade turkey sandwich can be. One of my fundamental lessons is to eat frequently (no more than 4 hours between meals) to stabilize blood sugar levels -- and this has a remarkable effect on the moods of little people (and big people). I could never over-emphasize this - so a very important recommendation is to pack lunches. Be sure to include some of the following: grapes, apples, pears, blueberries or strawberries. Again on a plane or a long drive these juicy fruits seem tastier. There's really nothing wrong with having a few potato chips when eaten with all this other fresh stuff. My on-the-go meal substitute is either a few Babybel light cheeses plus an apple or a Clif Builder bar and a pear. I ALWAYS recommend combining protein with a carb and including at least one fresh item.
If you are dining out, again look for a "clean PC combo" meal that the kids will like. Examples: chicken or turkey or fish AND potatoes (baked or roasted) or rice or pasta. Go for non-cheesy or creamy sauces (to avoid high fat) and avoid fried items. Eating the P with the C keeps blood sugar levels stable and keeps little tummies satisfied longer.
Q: If you do have to eat fast food, what are three restaurants/menu items that are the lesser of the evils?
CA: As for fast food, no question about it, Subway is much lower in overall calories and saturated fats and higher in nutrients than any other place. You can nearly always have a great meal by going for fresh sandwiches at a deli. My recommendation is a turkey-avocado on wheat with everything but cheese and mayo -- but if kids don't want wheat that is fine. The main thing is to avoid doing a burger, fries and shake. You can also order healthy items at Taco Bell -- just order the "fresca" style items such as chicken or steak soft tacos. The third item is a catchall: the grilled chicken sandwich. You can always come out way ahead of a burger by ordering grilled chicken from any restaurant.
Avoid: shakes and anything fried (french fries, onion rings, fried chicken, jalapeno poppers, chicken nuggets).
Q: There are a lot of books out about how to hide veggies in common foods like brownies and cupcakes. What's the secret? What are common substitutes for ingredients like sugar, butter, oil, etc?