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Olive oil is a healthy cooking alternative for your picky eaters

Olive oil is a healthy cooking alternative for your picky eaters

Cooking with olive oil is one of the easiest single choices you can make to take control of your health and that of your family. Its benefits were obvious to the ancient Greeks and have withstood the test of time being confirmed by modern science.

Olive oil is a staple of the Greek diet, amongst others, and is responsible for the so called “Greek paradox” – the odd but true idea that a diet rich in high quality fats can actually keep you skinny. In fact, olive oil can actually lower cholesterol. It’s rich in antioxidants, Vitamin E, and has even shown to lower blood pressure.

With childhood obesity on the rise it’s important for parents to make smart dietary choices. Kids who grow up with healthy eating and cooking habits will retain them for life. This is why cooking with olive oil is a simple solution to a difficult problem. Though it’s one of the healthiest foods on the planet, it’s doesn’t have any of the bland baggage of a health food. In fact, its tangy delicious flavor is favored by chefs the world over. It’s a nutritious alternative to low quality fats such as butter or margarine and with a little ingenuity can become a bridge to a better, fitter life for your kids through healthier eating.


Do

Do replace butter with olive oil

Changing a family’s diet drastically sometimes leads to revolt at the dinner table. That’s why substituting olive oil while cooking is a smart plan. Change just one ingredient that easily does the job of less healthy ones like butter and no one will know the difference. Whether you’re frying or baking, it’s a small, simple step with big benefits.

Do experiment with new recipes

Even though you can use olive oil to cook anything, why not try out a new Greek or Italian dish that’s always used it? Or, get really exotic and treat your taste buds to something spicy from the Middle East. Whatever you choose, have fun with it and put a little bit of yourself into the meal. Your kids will notice.

Do snack healthier

Olive oil and bread are a combination that makes a delicious snack enjoyed throughout the Mediterranean world. In Italy and France, dipping a baguette into some extra virgin olive oil is a staple, whereas in Greece and the Middle East, it’s all about pita-power.

Do add a little extra to your veggies

We all know we need to eat our veggies. Were you aware that adding olive oil to vegetables, raw or cooked, can bring health benefits greater than the sum of their parts? This is what the studies are now saying. Even better, extra virgin olive oil adds a tangy kick to veggies that will change the way you and your family think about greens.

Do be a food role model

Never forget that your kids watch everything you do. If you want them to eat well, start by being a food role model. You might have to change some of your own habits, but you’ll be giving them good ones that will last for a lifetime. When they hear mom or dad making a fuss about how delicious the oil-seared zucchini is, their ears will perk up.


Don't

Do not shield your kids’ taste buds

Get to know their tastes and how to cook healthier alternatives to what they already love. If they’re eating burgers, trade the low grade vegetable oil for a healthier olive oil. Pay attention to what they’ll eat and then do a substitution on the sly.

Do not wait to teach your kids about nutritious diets

The younger you get your kids eating healthy the better. Procrastination is a hard habit to break out of, but sometimes it’s easier when we realize our decisions don’t just affect us. When our bodies are growing, everyday matters.

Do not have a colorless plate

Eye-appeal is associated with greater satisfaction, so creating a colorful plate not only makes mealtime fun, but nutritious. Pull out the cookie-cutter to create shapes with children’s sandwiches, cheese, etc. Children will be more concentrated on the shapes and colors of the plate, then the nutrition of actually what’s in it.

Do not use creamy sauces for all pastas/salads

Pasta sauces and salad dressings can be high in fat and calories, with little nutritional value. Ease children into a less creamy dishes by using olive oil and a little bit of salt and lemon during dinner time for a flavorful dish for a healthier dinner option.

Do not force them to eat healthy

Kids are natural rebels but they are also natural mimics. This is why demanding they eat their Brussels sprouts will meet with a frown. However, make a show over how much you love your oil-roasted asparagus and you’ll have to fight them off of your plate.


Summary
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Olive oil has a long history that begins in mythology but lost none of its flavor as the years progressed. It’s a superfood that is a staple of some of the healthiest diets in the world with a myriad of documented benefits. If you are worried about your family’s diet, using more olive oil is a simple solution rich in nutrition, healthy benefits and taste.


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Chelsea Fuchs, MS, RD, CDN Registered Dietitian

Chelsea Fuchs, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Science degree in Nutrition from Columbia University. She currently works in the Public Relations industry, providing strategic nutrition communications counsel to food and nu...

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