At times, teenagers can be difficult to deal with, but there are definite bright spots to having a teen. When it comes to food, your teenager is more sophisticated and eager to be seen as an adult, which makes the teenage years the perfect time to introduce healthy meals with adult flavors; it is also a good time to teach him to take charge of his own nutrition by teaching him to create healthy meals of his own.
Your teen is always on the go, and it can be next to impossible to catch her long enough to make her sit down and eat a healthy meal. If leftovers from the family meal don't catch her attention, create a few simple meals that she can take on the go or eat quickly on her way to the next drama club meeting. Examples of fast, easy-to-prepare meals that your teen will love include a crisp grilled chicken salad, a roasted vegetable sandwich on whole-grain bread, and a quick vegetable soup made with broth and fresh-frozen vegetables. Experiment with different flavored dressings such as creamy blue cheese or spicy chipotle. These dressings work equally well as sandwich spreads.
Sharing the Cooking
Your teen is old enough to learn some basic recipes on his own, and if he is cooking the dishes himself, he will love the meals even more. Choose easy-to-prepare meals with simple ingredients. Not only will he learn about eating healthy food, but he will know how to prepare those meals later on when he is not longer living with you. Examples of healthy meals that he can learn to cook himself but he will enjoy are broiled tilapia, whole-wheat pasta with marinara, a savory shrimp stir-fry or a simple cold pasta salad with broccoli, cherry tomatoes and ranch dressing. Before long he may even become a better cook than you.
Introducing New Foods
Healthy meals that used to be "too adult" are now acceptable. Now is the perfect time to introduce your teen to sushi, for example. Appeal to her sense of adventure or taste, since she is less likely to care about healthy eating. Sushi is very healthy and "adult," so she may be pleased to finally be old enough for such a sophisticated meal. Other new foods she may enjoy include a healthy broth-based fondue or salads with mixed or spicy greens in them. Encourage your teen to try more grown up dressings such as tangy balsamic dressings.
If Your Teen is Picky
If he isn't interested in your attempts to introduce him to eating light or cooking healthy, and if sophisticated meals don't lure him in, don't fret. He may be resistant now, but he will remember the things that you have introduced him to. As long as he is eating enough healthy foods, he is probably getting adequate nutrition. Later on, when he is ready to take control of his health and his own meals, he will be more likely to try some of the meals that you cooked or you served him.