FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- As a parent with a master’s degree in elementary education, Gaby Healey believes every meal is a lesson.
Which is why, as Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Manhattan-based SoloFresco , the Fairfield resident believes providing children with healthy food so they understand what good food tastes like is essential to one's physical and mental development.
Healey's food services company, founded in 2013, has served over 50 million meals to NYC public school children. All of SoloFresco's food items are minimally processed, high quality, antibiotic-free, non-GMO ingredients with no artificial preservatives or artificial flavors added.
With summer here and days a tad less routine, the mom of two warns parents to be more aware of potential pitfalls. According to a study by the National Summer Learning Association, children gain weight three times faster during the summer.
Here, she offers tips for maintaining good eating habits, not just during these lazy hazy days, but throughout the year:
- Get Wholesome Ingredients: Healey is a big believer in whole grains. Not only are they a great source of fiber but they're full of vitamins and antioxidants. This is important, she said, because children who snack throughout the day won't be hungry at meal times and are less apt to try that new dish.
- Get Saucy: Sauces and dips are really popular with children. Kids love the combination of sweet and salty. The taste buds work together to create a flavor that just works for young palates.
- Get Silly: Summer, after all, should center around fun activities, so be sure to factor in fun when eating. Using toothpicks, small wooden skewers or chopsticks is enticing. Children may be more interested in trying pineapple if there are toothpicks inserted in each cubed piece. Chopsticks are challenging so start with slices of chicken breast or another food item that holds its form.
- Get Inspired: Educators encourage children to read throughout the summer so why not find inspiration from the books your children love to read. "The Magic Tree House" books take place in locations throughout the world. What if you and your children prepare a dish from one of these countries. Does your child like the Pinkalicious series? Then bake cupcakes with frosting made pink using strawberry or beet juice.
- Get Relevant: Visit a farm or a farmer's market. Show your children how the food they eat connects with the world around them. Talk to your kids about the importance of eating fruits or vegetables when they are in season. Why does a peach grown locally taste so much better than one that has traveled miles in a truck?
- Get Involved : Invite your kids to help you in the kitchen. Can they tear the lettuce, measure out some ingredients, help form the meatballs? Children will be more apt to try the dish if they can feel pride in creating their own meal.