Building a healthier future

Brownwood Bulletin
Wendy Hamilton

Most parents have experienced the frustration of dealing with a picky eater at home. We try so many things to get our kids to eat healthier, only to find ourselves frustrated when a child refuses to eat what we know is good for them.

One of the most effective strategies that parents can adopt is to involve their children in the process of meal planning and meal preparation.

Children are much more interested in trying new foods when they are invested in the meal. Using simple recipes (ants on a log or fruit parfaits) are a great way to get future chefs interested in healthy cooking and eating.

Another good option is to involve children in gardening projects. A child will be much more likely to eat a vegetable that he/she has planted, watered, and harvested.

A gardening project is also a great way to spend time with a child. Use the time you’re gardening together to talk about what good foods do for our bodies. Take advantage of your child’s natural curiosity to help them appreciate the benefits that certain foods offer us.

Remember to make mealtime about family. Keep it focused and fun, and don’t forget to be creative with dinner and snack options.

Finally, don’t give up. It can take up to 10 attempts to get a child to try a new food, so be persistent and patient as you build a healthier future.

Be an Example

We all know that our kids watch practically everything we do. The same goes with food. Your children notice what you’re eating and what your attitude is towards trying new foods. Make a point to try new foods and have a positive attitude/expression when you’re eating fruits and vegetables.

Also, be responsible in determining the foods that are on your table.

Remember, you primarily control your kid’s food choices. They won’t have as much opportunity to eat bad foods if your home is filled with nutritious food items instead of cookies, chips, and candy.

Spaghetti with Quick Meat Sauce

Serving Size: 8 (recipe taken from


1-pound whole-wheat spaghetti

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 pound lean (90% or leaner) ground beef

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

 ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese½ tsp salt


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is beginning to brown, 5-8 minutes.

Stir in garlic and Italian seasoning; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add beef and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3-5 minutes. Increase heat to high.

Stir in tomatoes, and cook until thickened, 4-6 minutes.

Stir in parsley and salt.

Serve the sauce over the pasta, sprinkled with cheese.

For more information on SNAP-Ed, contact Wendy Hamilton at Brown County Extension office (325) 646 -0386.