1. Food is your body’s fuel.
As a professional athlete, I’m used to fueling my body with nutritious foods that help me perform my best on the field. I’ve tried to instill this lesson in my kids – food should be thought of as energy that helps them do their favorite, fun activities – whether that’s playing sports or simply playing at the park, rolling in the yard and even jumping on their beds. Making the correlation between healthy foods and being active and strong is more tangible than just telling them what they should and should not eat. (This is also a good motto for all the busy parents out there that need energy to chase after little ones).
2. Lunch time made easy.
Like every parent, I have a love/hate relationship with lunch time. It’s too time consuming and too stressful to ask my son what he wants each day – he would have me making 10 different lunches! I found the easiest way is to have go-to options that are easy to prep and can be mixed and matched for snack time and lunch time. They also work for quick lunches for mom and dad! Here are some of our favorites-
Turkey roll-ups: A simple whole wheat wrap with turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a little bit of hummus becomes kid friendly when sliced into mini bites. Make a couple of wraps and divide between kids and parents.
Homemade trail mix: I give classic trail mix a healthier twist by mixing pretzels and peanuts with air popped popcorn and baked sliced beets or dried apples sprinkled with sea salt.
Fruit: If I pack a whole apple, it’ll go uneaten. But chopped apple, strawberries mixed with some blueberries and mini dark chocolate chips are always gobbled up. I keep a large bowl of the fruit salad in the fridge for quick packing in the morning. To keep cut-up apples from browning, chop and soak in one cup of water mixed with ½ a teaspoon of salt before packing for the day. If all you have are leftovers from the night before: Last night’s chicken mixed with a little bit of plain yogurt and cooked peas is the perfect lunch served with some whole grain crackers and sliced grapes.
3. Cooking with kids starts early.
In the offseason, I love being able to spend more time in the kitchen cooking. It’s important to me to pass this on to my kids by exposing them early on to cooking and the different ways to use and appreciate food. I’ll even prop Luke, who is just a baby, in a highchair next to the counter while I chop vegetables or prepare a big green smoothie of kale, spinach, yogurt and banana. I’ll give him a small sip right from the blender. The more they’re around wholesome and nutritious foods, the more it becomes natural to them.
By Amy Rodriguez, Olympic Soccer Player