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Spice of life: Help kids make healthy choices

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Broccoli salad is a quick, crunchy way to dress up a head of broccoli and serve a side the kids will eat.
Broccoli salad is a quick, crunchy way to dress up a head of broccoli and serve a side the kids will eat. SUBMITTED PHOTO

I am not one to make resolutions.

Yes, I make goals, but compiling a list of things I must do in the new year? I feel like that is a sure way to set yourself up for failure. Plus, can you really plan ahead that far in advance?

My year ended 360 degrees from where it started, and I certainly could have never stuck to a resolution for 365 days after the way 2012 played out.

I set goals, and I am not exaggerating when I say I review them every quarter. I literally have a list on paper of things I want to accomplish. I make my time frame shorter, more attainable. Is this a mind trick? Possibly. Kind of like eating on a smaller plate makes you feel like you are eating less even though you can just refill it again, thus defeating the purpose of the small plate size. Setting and meeting goals faster does trick you into feeling like you have accomplished more. So what?

I am sure a lot of us have set goals of picking up healthier habits in the coming year. Eating better, exercising more, staying active. But in my opinion that is too broad. Focus instead on a specific event. For me, it is fitting into something I want to wear to a conference I am speaking at in May. Fitting into it means that I will move more, eat better and get more sleep. I can do this. It is an attainable goal.

As adults we know what we should be doing. We are well aware that what goes in our bodies determines how we think, feel and grow. It is up to us to make that happen on whatever level we can emotionally or monetarily.

But what about kids? Can they buy their own groceries? Who teaches them how to eat well and make good choices when we are not around? We have to hope that they use what they are taught.

Recently, I heard of a program that was launched in Indianapolis Public Schools in conjunction with Indianapolis Fruit and its resident foodie Lori Taylor, also known as The Produce Mom. Indianapolis Fruit and The Produce Mom have partnered with Indiana celebrities and heroes to inspire healthy eating among children via the lunchroom.

This program is called Find Your Favorite. Through a series of promotional posters, grocery offers, educational materials and events, children will be encouraged to try fruits and vegetables to find their favorite.

With cooperation from the Indiana Fever, Indianapolis Colts, Indianapolis Symphony, Indy Racing League, Olympian and Hoosier David Boudia, dancer Emily Dyson, artist Anila Agha, Indianapolis firefighters and local sports mascots, Find Your Favorite launched with a bang.

Opening a dialogue with kids about making better choices without making them feel bad for the ones they do make is just what we need to give kids a good foundation for nutrition at a young age. You know how it is, you tell your kids something, and they tune you out. They hear that same message from someone else, and they take it as the gospel.

From what I hear, the kids got pretty excited when these local celebrities visited their schools to share their message of healthy living. You can find out more information about this on the Indianapolis Fruit website or at Find


Looking for a way to sneak a little bit of healthy food into your kids’ diets without beating them over the head with it? Get them involved. As much as you can and is feasible in your life, involve them in menu planning, budgeting and grocery shopping. Helping them understand where their food comes from, how much it costs and how much it costs to feed their family will put things in perspective for them.

Let them lend a hand during meal prep. Also, and I know this isn’t popular, I hide nutrition in my kids food. Bean puree, mashed sweet potatoes, brown rice and pasta are found on my dinner table, but I also serve it to them in the whole form too. They get to make a choice of eating what is served, but I also feel better when I can sneak a bit in here and there. I will serve the black beans on our taco night, but I will also put some that are mashed in our meat mixture. A little sideways but effective.

The salad I am sharing today is by and large one of my kids favorites. Adults like it, too. Crunchy and sweet, it is a great way to dress up a head of broccoli. This is a cinch to put together and keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator. This is great ice cold and perfect for the lunch box.

Broccoli salad recipe


1½ cups of low-fat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of sugar

3 tablespoons of vinegar (I used red wine)

6-8 cups of broccoli florets

6 slices of bacon, cooked drained and crumbled (I used turkey bacon)

1 small red onion, chopped (this was good with shallots too)

¾ cup of raisins

½ cup of unsalted shelled sunflower seeds

Pinch of salt/pepper to taste


Mix mayo, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to mix.

This is not a saucy salad, which is why my kids loved it so much.

Heather Tallman lives in the Center Grove area and writes the cooking blog Basilmomma.

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