Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

Motivate your family to make nutritious choices with these cool tools.

While we can control the groceries we buy for our kids and what we serve them at home, we all know it's healthiest if kids make their own smart and healthy choices about what to eat—wherever they are. These products aim to inspire kids to make those smart choices all on their own, even when Mom and Dad are not there to prompt healthy decision-making. Plus, having kids who cook brings all kinds of benefits, starting with one less item on your to-do list!

Rounded Plate

Rounded Plate family scoreboard
Rounded Plate

I often keep a mental tally of daily vegetable servings for myself and my family. Rounded Plate gets that tally out of your brain and down on paper, where everyone in the family can see it and learn from it. Rounded Plate is a 21-day program designed to change your family's eating habits. It comes with a reusable family scoreboard, bonus stickers, a food chart and daily sheets so everyone can log their food choices. "Everyone" means parents participate too!

Kids earn bonuses as they meet daily and weekly goals for eating a well-rounded diet that includes lots of vegetables along with protein, fruit, grains, and healthy fats. You can even track and reward water intake. Almost any non-food reward can make a good bonus. One copy of Rounded Plate ($29.95) works for up to 5 family members, ages 4 and up.

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Step Stool Chef

SideChef app screen shot

If your kids are curious about cooking, introduce them to Step Stool Chef. At age 7, he has his own website devoted to cooking and recipes, and he even appears on the step-by-step cooking app Side Chef along with many other chefs, bloggers, and recipe developers. Since the app is very visual, it's ideal for kids (and adults) who are just learning how to cook. It even has voice commands so you don't have to touch your phone or tablet with messy hands! (Free; available for iOS and Android.)

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Kidliga Dinnerware

Kidliga dinnerware from Livliga

Rounded Plate has children color in a pie chart to track what they're eating. With Kidliga, kids place food directly onto color-coded and illustrated plates, bowls, and cups designed to teach them about portion sizes and nutritious eating. Kidliga is from the makers of Livliga, portion-control products for adults. Each Kidliga three-piece place setting ($49.95) comes with a children's book.

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KidStir Subscription Service

KidStir subscription sample box

Kids love getting packages in the mail, so it's no surprise that subscription services are popular. This one is designed to get kids excited about healthy food. Each KidStir box comes with recipes, a shopping list, educational information, kid-friendly kitchen tools, games and activities, and one specialty ingredient. You can also find extra recipes and printable activities at KidStir's website. The cooking kits are $24.95 each, or $19.95 via a monthly subscription.

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Curious Chef Kitchen Tools

Curious Chef measure and prep set
Curious Chef

Even little kids can help in the kitchen if they have the right tools. Curious Chef has lots of options, but I especially like the 17-piece measure and prep set (includes measuring spoons and cups, a mixing spoon, a set of prep bowls with lids, and a kitchen timer) and the 6-piece fruit and veggie prep set (includes a plastic knife, a mixing spoon, an apple-shaped slicer, a vegetable scrubber, a fruit and vegetable peeler and a melon baller (each set is $24.99).

Or, how about a spiralizer to make noodles and cool spiral cuts of many different kinds of vegetables? Lots of styles and brands are available, and this cool tool could definitely prompt more veggie-eating in your kitchen.

ChopChop Magazine

For another mailed-to-your-door option, consider ChopChop magazine. It's a quarterly magazine and a nonprofit with a goal of teaching kids to "cook real food" with their families to combat obesity and hunger. to be included in the magazine, recipes must be tasty, nutritious, ethnically diverse, and inexpensive to prepare. The magazine ($24.95 for a two-year, eight-issue subscription) also contains games, puzzles, and interviews with "healthy heroes" like Michelle Obama.

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52 New Foods Challenge

Here's another way to encourage healthy eating (and maybe reform a picky eater, too): Read this book, The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year by Jennifer Tyler Lee—who also created Crunch a Color®: The Healthy Eating Game. The book ($14) includes 150+ recipes along with other activities to help encourage kids to try new, healthy foods.

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