New App Gets Kids Excited About Nutritious Foods
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Do you, like many parents, find it a challenge to turn your kids on to good-for-you foods? If so, there’s a new gaming app called FoodLeap that just may help. Created by registered dietitian and mom, Melissa Halas-Liang in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association,* the free app is designed to help kids get excited about choosing—and eating—nutritious foods.
Read on to learn more about Halas-Liang, the founder of SuperKidsNutrition.com and creative mind behind the Super CrewÒ kids, and the new app to help kids make more nutritious food selections.
EZ: What is FoodLeap and how can it help kids get interested in healthy eating?
MHL: It’s a free new gaming app for iphone and ipad that gets kids excited about healthy colorful foods (including white–cauliflower, black–black berries and brown–brown rice). Gamers play as Super Crew® kid, Super Baby Abigail who leaps and bounds through colorful levels of Rainbow Road, outsmarting hostile kitchenware while collecting healthy foods to boost her speed and powers. Along the way she unlocks fun and tasty facts about the foods she’s captured. The game increases awareness about the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program and their free app, which allows parents to find healthy menu choices at over 42,000 restaurants nation wide. I tell parents to play FoodLeap with their kids, and to then discuss their favorite ways to eat and enjoy the healthy foods featured in the game. Kids love technology so the game offers another opportunity for parents to discuss good nutrition with them. Plus we need more games with healthy foods instead of candy and cupcakes!
EZ: Why is it important for parents to play a key role in helping their kids choose healthy options when dining out?
MHL: In today’s world, everything is so fast-paced. Because of this, it’s really important to arm kids with the skill-set to make smart eating choices on their own, whether they’re hanging out at a friend’s home or dining out at restaurants. Kids need the right nutrients, because their brain, bones and other organs are still developing. Many kids are also taking in too much sodium. By helping them make healthier choices when dining out, parents can help their kids’ hearts stays healthy now and for life.
EZ: Why is important to get kids in the kitchen and what tools do you recommend they use to help create nutritious meals?
MHL: Getting kids involved in the kitchen is an effective way to get them interested in healthy eating and trying more foods! Young kids can pick out their own fruit and veggie scrub brush–so while you’re cooking they have an easy task. Kids like blenders because they’re loud (and we know most kids love to make noise). They can make a smoothie by simply pushing a button (just always make sure to keep an eye on them to avoid injury!). Spiralizers are inexpensive tools you can use to make “spaghetti” from things like squash, and there are some really awesome kid friendly knives that you can use to teach children safe cutting skills. Having kids slice soft foods like avocados and bananas is fun. By getting your kids involved in cooking, you open the door to so many possibilities! You never know—you may have a future chef on your hands! Check out this age appropriate cooking guide with the Super Crew to making cooking with kids easier.
EZ: What are some of your top tips to help kids have fun while learning about nutrition?
MHL: There are so many! But here are a few:
Create a placemat. Grab some magazines and a large piece of paper. Have them cut out their favorite pictures of fruits and veggies and glue them onto the paper. You can get inexpensive laminating sheets from an office-supply store or Target to seal the placemats, so your kids can use their creations whenever they eat! You can also add in some text on good table manners!
Read fun books with healthy themes. Books are a great tool to teach about healthy eating. Reading provides visuals and creates a good vehicle to help you bond with your kids. I recommend I will not ever NEVER eat a tomato to encourage kids to try new foods and the Bernstein Bears books for balance—like The Bernstein Bears and Too Much Junk Food or Too Much TV! The Super Crew Kids also have their own books: Super Baby Abigail’s Lunchtime Adventure and Havoc at the Hillside Market with the Super Crew.
Watch videos. I love the USDA core nutrition message videos, and often recommend them to parents. They cover everything from child feeding tips to whole grains, fruits and vegetables, etc. and are concise and applicable to everyday food struggles parents face.
Check out the Fooducate App. It scans food and gives it an overall rating. It also offers alternative foods that have higher ratings for those that don’t score too well. Kids can use this app to scan their own food! They can use it at the supermarket and choose the item with the highest grade out of three options. My daughter was scanning our cereals in the house and found out her dad’s cereal choice got a B and hers was an A. I tell families who struggle with food shopping to choose items with a B- or better.
*The National Restaurant Association collaborated with SuperKids Nutrition to create a new gaming app called FoodLeap to bring attention to the Kids LiveWell program, which offers healthful children’s menu items at 150 restaurant brands representing 42,000 restaurant locations across the nation. The aim of FoodLeap is to grow awareness about Kids LiveWell, while increasing children’s knowledge about the benefits of eating healthy, whole foods.
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