If you thought encouraging Junior to eat broccoli and green beans was impossible, just mention arugula or sashimi. But why would busy parents jump through food hoops to substitute these delicacies for fast food? You already know the answer: health. The latest nutritional research shows that the best way to make sure your kids get the right nutrients in the right quantities is to feed them a wide variety - and we mean wide variety - of healthy foods. So, the old standbys like peas and carrots aren't enough. They need salmon for omega-3 fatty acids, tofu for the isoflavones contained in soybeans, butternut squash and cantaloupe for beta carotene, and black beans for fiber.
If your kids aren't even getting peas and carrots, but burgers and fries, all the more reason to change. "America's youth are getting fatter and kids are three times more likely to be overweight today than in the 1960s," says Amy R. DeFelice, M.D., pediatric gastroenterologist and nutritionist at Children's Hospital of New York in New York City.
Yes, we know - overhauling your family's diet is a monumental challenge. Take heart from the fact that you're not the only one facing it. We asked some of the nation's most esteemed chefs, restaurant critics and "foodies" how they introduce the exotic and unusual - not to mention the healthy and low-fat - to their children. Their savvy (and patient) strategies can help you do the same. And remember: Children look first to their parents' diets for direction, so you play the most pivotal role in establishing their healthy eating habits. If they see you chowing down on edamame and brown rice, they're more likely to do the same.