Healthy Gardening with Children

Erin Stagnitta – OnPoint Nutrition

It is officially springtime! The weather is getting warmer, grass is growing, birds are chirping, and more people are spending time outside.  Are you looking for something healthy and fun to do with your children outdoors?

Try gardening!  Gardening is good for the physical, mental, and emotional health of children.  Taking a piece of land and developing it into a beautiful area where flowers, delicious herbs and vegetables grow, is appealing for children of all ages.  Gardening is a great way to get the entire family outside for fresh air and physical activity.

Plus, we all know how hard it is to get our children to try new fruits and vegetables.  Getting children involved in growing their own produce can encourage them to try new foods and finish their veggie servings at mealtimes!

Benefits of Gardening with Children

Tending to a garden can be an interactive activity for children that will engage all their senses, spark curiosity, and support their development.  A garden can teach a child many skills and qualities they can use for a lifetime, such as:

Curiosity for Healthy food:

Allow children to choose what they want to grow in their garden.  You can explain the nutritional value their produce gives to their bodies.  Explain how certain plants only grow in specific areas of the world because of climate and soil.  Gardening exposes children to a variety of fruits and vegetables they may not typically be attracted towards.  Encourage your children to taste what they grow and come up with recipes as a family.

Physical activity:

Gardening gets your children out from behind their screens and into the fresh air and sunshine.  There are a lot of movements associated with gardening that will improve fine and large motor skills that are essential in a child’s development.  Gardening requires pulling weeds, digging, and sorting seeds, which strengthen a child’s fine motor skills that help them to write.  Large motor skills such as balance, coordination, and physical strength will improve through transporting dirt, carrying a watering can, digging and squatting.

Responsibility:

Having to tend to a plant day after day to nurture its growth will teach children responsibility and a cause and effect relationship.  If they fail to water their plants and pull weeds, their plants will not survive and they will not experience the reward of growing their own food.

Creativity:

Encourage children to design their own garden.  Allow them to choose what and where they plant.  They will create intricate landscapes unique to their personalities.  To encourage creative thinking and communication have them explain their thought process to you.  Work with them to create recipes that are specific to the produce they grow.

Plant a Recipe Garden

Try to grow the ingredients to make a family favorite recipe or come up with your own creative recipe.  This will get your children excited for the fruits of their labor. Plus, produce grown at home is always the freshest, and best tasting!

Pizza Garden: Tomatoes, basil, oregano, peppers and onions.

Salad Garden: Lettuce, carrots, radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Salsa Garden: Tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and peppers.

Taco Garden: lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, hot peppers, onions.

Smoothie Garden: Kale, strawberries, blueberries, mint.

 

Growing and Preparing food as a family teaches children the importance of eating healthy.  Involving your kids in the garden and kitchen will spark their interest in experimenting with new recipes.

Grow your own Pizza ingredients, then make this easy and delicious pizza together!

Garden Pizza

Ingredients:

  • Pita or light English muffin (80-120 calories)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 ounce of favorite cheese- sharp provolone, fresh mozzarella, or burrata
  • Spices and herbs- oregano, garlic, onion powder, black pepper, basil
  • Veggies of choice- recommendations include peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, and/or olive

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Spread 1/4 cup of the sauce on pita or English muffin
  3. Top with cheese, spices, and vegetables
  4. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is at a desired crispness
  5. Use other 1/4 cup of sauce to dip or top after cooked!

 

Recently awarded Philadelphia Magazine’s – Best of Philly 2018, OnPoint is your go-to for all things health and nutrition. We are a team of Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists who believe in a whole foods, anti-diet approach to healthy living. Our evidence-based, one-on-one, virtual approach ensures you receive the highest level of service and sustainable results. Click here to learn more about the OnPoint approach.

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