More vegetables at childcare

Children in childcare homes and centers will benefit from providers adding more vegetables to their meals and snacks.

Childcare providers play an important role in the good nutritional habits for the children in their care. With the number of hours children spend at childcare each week and the number of meals and snacks they consume, childcare providers have the ability to greatly influence healthy eating habits at an early age. Whether you are a childcare provider who participates in the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) or not, you can set a goal to include vegetables daily in your meals and snacks as well as encouraging parents to do the same.

Michigan State University Extension encourages all childcare providers to consider adding more vegetables into their meals and snacks to help provide nutrient dense food to the children in their care. MyPlate recommends that we fill half our plates with fruits and vegetables. Enjoying many vegetables with children in your care can be easy when you provide a variety of fruits and vegetables at meal and snack times. Remember all forms of vegetables count- raw, cooked, canned, frozen, dried and 100 percent juice.

The recipe below is a great example from the USDA’s What’s Cooking Recipe Finder. This recipe is quick and easy and combines a variety of vegetables. It is a great way to encourage kids to try vegetables they may not be familiar with or have never tried before. As one preschooler said to me this year when looking at our fruit and vegetable food models, “it looks like a rainbow,” so fill the plates of those you care for with a rainbow of colors at every meal.

Spring Vegetable Sauté

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup sweet onion (sliced)

1 garlic clove (finely chopped)

3 new potatoes (tiny, quartered)

3/4 cup carrot (sliced)

3/4 cup asparagus pieces

3/4 cup sugar snap peas, or green beans

1/2 cup radishes (quartered)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dill (dried)

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a skillet. Cook the onion 2 minutes, add the garlic and cook another minute.

2. Stir in the potatoes and carrots. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook until almost tender, about 4 minutes.

3. If the vegetables start to brown, add a Tablespoon or 2 of water.

4. Now add the asparagus, peas, radishes, salt, pepper, and dill. Cook, stirring often, until just tender - about 4 minutes more.

5. Serve immediately.