As adults, we spend our lives looking for balance. Balance between work and home, solitude and socializing, and mind and body are among the areas where we often struggle. The principles and benefits of a balanced lifestyle are the same regardless of where you seek it. And the sooner you learn the benefits of a balanced life, the easier you will flow into a life of happiness. It is for this reason that we seek to bring awareness of balance to the children in our lives. For children, a great place to start is a focus on a balanced plate!
Problem: When you set your protein, whole grain/carb, and vegetable as separate, independent components of a meal, kids can easily sift through their food to only eat the food they want. Or as I used to do, they can move food around the plate and mix the undesirable items with others to appear like they’ve been eaten! This completely undoes the balance you’ve created on their plates! Often, those items of preference aren’t the densest in balanced nutrients. So, what do you do? The challenge lies in making a cohesive dish—creating one meal.
Solution: Make what I call quinoa bowls! Quinoa is nutrient-dense and packed with both fiber and plant-based protein. It can be used to enrich any meal. You can play around with a variety of veggie and protein blends to add to your quinoa to create a variety of dishes. In order to keep the idea of balance and cohesiveness in the bowl, pick a theme! For example, make a Mexican-themed bowl with finely chopped vegetables like peppers and tomatoes, ground lean turkey, and taco spices, and sprinkle with a little shredded cheese.
Buying Tip: Quinoa is generally prepackaged and can be found in most grocery stores. These packages should be completely sealed and free from moisture. For a more budget-friendly option, keep your eyes out for quinoa in bulk bins. Quinoa can usually be purchased in bulk in natural-foods stores.
Here are a few ideas and things to keep in mind for your very own quinoa bowls.
- It’s all in the name. Get your child involved in the process of selecting quinoa-bowl additions. Then you can name that bowl combo after him or her to personalize it as their own dish. “Tonight, we’re having Madison’s Quinoa Bowl!”
- Food turned family activity. You can research spices from various countries along with your child and make it a family activity to create new bowl blends representative of different cultures.
- Keep it small. Finely chop veggies and added proteins. This allows each bite to pack the punch of balance. Further, it eliminates seeing each ingredient as separate.