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Tasty Tips for Choosy Kids
by Ellie Kumayama

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Do your children get excited when they hear the words brown rice, vegetables and seaweed?

Well, if they are like most kids, they probably run and hide at any mention of these foods. Transitioning yourself to a new way of eating and living can be interesting and exciting, but shifting your whole family to eating a healthier diet is a whole other bowl of rice.

I remember growing up in my family and never liking healthy food. During dinner time I would move the food around on my plate to make it look like I ate something. But my mother knew my tricks, so she invented a few schemes of her own to help my siblings and me get vegetables and nutritious food into our bodies without us knowing.

Now that I am older, I am grateful for these sneaky tactics my mom used, and I want to share them, along with new things I have learned, to help you transition your families to eating better, and enjoying it!

The first thing to remember is that every little change makes a difference, so start small and change little things. For example, use a high quality/high mineral content sea salt and replace poor quality cooking oils with high quality, unrefined, cold-pressed, organic vegetable oils. Olive, sesame, and sunflower oils are great choices.

Then, if eliminating food seems too depriving, focus instead on adding things to your diet. Stock your kitchen with easy-to-prepare dried and canned foods like organic whole wheat or brown rice pastas, pasta sauce, canned beans and specialty items.

Fill your refrigerator and freezer with handy foods like whole wheat or corn tortillas, hummus, mixed greens, cucumbers, and frozen foods like berries, corn, peas and other veggies. These convenient foods make it easy to make a quick wrap with hummus and veggies in a tortilla or an easy pasta dish.

Get your family to eat whole grains. This might sound tricky, but it is possible. My mom did this for our family and transitioned us from eating white rice to brown rice. She cooked the white rice with a little bit of brown rice, so the brown rice was hidden, and we thought we were eating white rice.

As time progressed, she upped the percentage of brown rice very subtly when she made rice, so we never noticed. After a while, we were eating half white and half brown rice. Finally, we were completely transitioned to eating brown rice as our staple grain, and no one really even noticed. To this day, my family eats brown rice.

If your family craves dairy, cheese and yogurt, try the healthier alternatives such as various non-dairy milks (soy, rice, almond, oat, hemp nut), soy cheese, and soy yogurt (Wildwood has a plain unsweetened probiotic soyogurt). You will find that some soy cheeses melt just like real cheese, and you can make parfaits with soy yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit.

Even trading over-processed sugary snack foods for organic corn chips, salsa, organic popcorn, apple chips, and naturally sweetened breakfast cereals is a great start. Keep fresh fruit, nut and seed butters, fruit juice sweetened jams, and whole wheat sourdough breads on hand for an easy snack.

If you need quick and convenient snack foods, look for healthy options. Some choices are Pirate Brands Original Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks instead of cheese puffs and Nana’s cookies, which are vegan, have no refined sugar and no trans fats. Vanilla Snackimals Animal Cookies by Barbara‘s Bakery and sparkling fruit juice instead of sodas, like Izze Sparkling Juice are other good choices.

Also, you can make your own fizzy drink with sparkling water and organic fruit juice. Stay away from hydrogenated oils, white sugar, including cane juice, white flour and chemical additives. Don’t forget to read the labels on your foods.

As for baking, switch to organic whole wheat pastry flour and unbleached organic all-purpose flour. You can also experiment with different varieties of flours such as brown rice, coconut, barley, or spelt for an interesting twist in your baking. Keep organic rolled oats, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and grain sweetened chocolate chips (Sunspire brand) around for when you feel inspired to bake. Ditch white sugar for sweet alternatives like honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, date sugar or stevia.

Last, get your kids excited about food. Keep that kids like colors, shapes and flavors, so keep them interested in what they are eating by making food fun. Kids won’t eat healing macrobiotic dishes, and they aren’t supposed to. So try making things like rice burgers, tempura, pasta dishes, and easy desserts like fruit kantens.

Even if your family eats animal food, try making it healthier by switching to organic meats and making things like chicken fingers with almond flour or organic bread crumbs. If you are making hamburgers or meatballs, hide grated onions, carrots and other vegetables in the meat to make it healthier.

Also, remember to lead by example and show your children that you enjoy eating healthy foods, so they will want to join in! Don’t force your kids to eat foods they don’t like. When they do like something, make it over and over again. Also, whatever your they like to eat, there is probably a healthy way to make it. For example, they like brownies, make them healthy, refined-sugar-free vegan brownies.

Involve your children in the process. Let them choose fun dishes to prepare, decide what to put in them, and enjoy the results. They can easily make fresh fruit and vegetable juices, snacks, sandwiches, pancakes and desserts with the help of an adult.

Here are a few recipes that your children (and you) will love:

Berry Blast Smoothie
This smoothie is fast, easy, and perfect for summer. It will cool off any cravings for frozen desserts and pack a big antioxidant punch.

1/2 Cup Organic unfiltered apple juice
1/4 Cup Non-dairy milk (rice, soy, almond, oat, hemp)
1/4 Organic banana
Generous handful of frozen organic strawberries
Generous handful of frozen organic blueberries
Dash of umeboshi vinegar

Put all of the ingredients into a blender.
Blend together until smooth.
Pour into glasses and enjoy.

Serves 2

Macho Nachos
These are a fun snack or mini meal to calm rumbling tummies and satisfy anyone’s craving for Mexican food.

Organic corn tortilla chips
1 Can of organic canned black beans
Grated soy cheese (I prefer Follow Your Heart, Vegan Gourmet brand, Cheddar Cheese or Nacho Cheese flavor)

Fresh avocado slices
Optional: Tofu Sour Cream
Turn your oven or toaster oven on to bake at 425 degrees.
Put some corn chips into a heat safe/ovenproof bowl.
Open the can of black beans, drain the water out, and spoon the beans into the center of the bowl, on top of the chips.

Grate the soy cheese over the chips and beans.
Bake the nachos in the oven for approximately 8 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Take the nachos out of the oven and top them with tofu sour cream, salsa and fresh avocado slices.
Serve and enjoy.

Serves 2

This is a kid-friendly spin on the traditional Indonesian dish. The fun shapes, colors and delicious sauce is sure to get your children eating vegetables.

Vegetable Preparation:
6 Leaves of Chinese cabbage, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 Handful of purple cabbage, sliced into ½ inch pieces
1 Zucchini sliced in half length wise and then sliced into ¼ inch pieces
6 Radishes sliced length wise into quarters
1/2 Yam sliced into rounds, and then punched into a fun shape with a small cookie cutter
1/2 Japanese sweet potato sliced into rounds, and then punched into a fun shape with a small cookie cutter

Set up a large pot with a steamer basket inside, put water in the bottom of the pot, and turn to high heat on the stove. Once the water is boiling, put groups of vegetables into the pot on top of the steamer. Keep the vegetables in groups so that the colors don’t bleed onto other vegetables. Lightly steam the Chinese cabbage, zucchini, purple cabbage, and radishes until they are brightly colored and still crisp. Let the yam and
Japanese sweet potato steam until they are soft, but still hold together.
Arrange the vegetables in a bowl.

Sweet Peanut Sauce:

1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 Cup organic peanut butter (or any kind of nut or seed butter)
2 Teaspoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup
3 Tablespoons of water
1 Tablespoon tan sesame seeds
Put sesame oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, brown rice syrup and water into a small saucepan.
Heat the saucepan on the stove on low and stir the ingredients together until they have become smooth and sauce-like. Adjust the sauce to taste.
Add the sesame seeds into the sauce and mix together.
Serve the sauce in a sauce cup along side your vegetables for dipping or to pour over the vegetables. Enjoy!

Serves 2

Ellie Kumayama is an Eco-enthusiast, Macrobiotic Cook,and is working towards starting her own eco-fashion clothing company. Check out her blog at



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