It’s a new year and perhaps we all had a little too much fun indulging over the holidays. Tiny Style Guy, a.k.a. Jack Leonardo Henry, the two-year-old fashion man about town gets that. The curious child recently got to ask German-born chef, culinary educator and actor Sven Garrett for some tips on how kids can make healthier choices at meal time. Garrett, who was the pastry chef at The Delano hotel in South Beach and crafted birthday cakes for George Clooney, Leonard Nimoy, Will Smith and Queen Latifah, now has a web series on Willyskitchenshow.com, where he teams up with his animated pal “Willy,” an adorable bee. Together, they teach children how to cook, ensure kitchen safety and discover proper nutrition to live their healthiest lifestyle.
- What are the basic foods all children should eat daily to get the proper nutrition?
“Children have a high metabolism and exercise a lot, so they can scratch and injure themselves. Their bodies need a lot of vitamins and nutrition to build a strong immune system. Basic foods should be good sources of healthy proteins, carbs and fats. A healthy breakfast should consist of low-fat yogurt, cereal or granola, whole-wheat toast and a serving of fresh fruit. Add some avocado for healthy fats. Serve lots of (green) vegetables for fiber and vitamins. Chicken, fish or lean red meat for protein and for the hunger/quick snack in between meals, choose an apple rather than a candy snack. That will keep the metabolism going and provide some extra vitamins. (Find out more on my website www.willyskitchenshow.com.”
2. What creative ways can you jazz up veggies and fruits to get kids like me to eat them?
“Try a fruit smoothie once in a while. It is more fun to drink than to eat your fruits and berries. You can also add yogurt for extra protein or even avocado to make it creamier. For a summer party, freeze your fruit smoothie into pop-cycles. That replaces unhealthy ice-cream and the kids still get nutrition. Put your child in charge of cooking the veggie for today’s dinner to establish interest. Go to the market together and have your child pick out a veggie, then help cook it for dinner. Compliment the child at the dinner table on how great the veggie tastes. Building up that feeling of pride goes a long way and before you know it, they want to cook it every evening and, of course, eat it too. “
3.What kind of foods do you make for kids parties?
“I like to serve baked chicken strips (rolled in yogurt and corn flakes), roasted vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, squash) – veggie skewers are non-messy and fun to eat. They also let the kids try different veggies – if they have a chance to pick their veggies they will always go for the same items.A healthy version of Mac’n Cheese is always good. I use low-fat cheese and non-fat milk. Sometimes I mix roasted veggies or spinach in it to make it more colorful.If I make pizza, I stay away from salami or bacon and choose veggie pizzas and low-fat mozzarella cheese. As long as the kids heard the word ‘pizza,’ they are happy.”
4. How do you get kids to know they need to eat better than just junk food and desserts?
“I think children need adults as role models. If they see us eating healthy then sooner or later they will adapt. They look up to their parents and get the healthy message.Tell them that too much sugar is bad for their teeth or eating more vitamins is better for their bodies to heal scratches. Healthy carbs give them more energy before a workout and protein helps them build strong bones so they can play harder. Never insult their weight.Most every child I work with on my show is in a ton of exercise classes. Interest your child in sports. Once they find something they like they will usually look at other kids as examples.”
5.What is a super healthy dinner meal for children like me?
“Since dinner is close to bedtime it should not be a heavy meal, but it should still cover most all of the food groups. Breakfast doesn’t get served with vegetables so besides lunch, dinner is the only meal to serve your child their veggies. Veggies and fruits should be about half of your child’s plate. The other half of the plate should be protein and grains/carbs. Protein could be a piece of grilled chicken, fish or red meat. Please stay away from frying anything in oil. Any vegetable will work. Try roasting or steaming instead of boiling in water – you will retain more flavor and vitamins. Grains/carbs can be baked potato, wild rice, whole-wheat pasta, sweet potatoes.”
6. Do you have any ideas on how to make healthy desserts? I love dessert!
“You can make desserts healthier by substituting white flour with a whole-wheat flour or using low-fat milk, but most calories in desserts come from sugar (usually white ‘complex’ sugar). Instead of butter and syrup for your pancakes, you can use Greek yogurt and honey. Add fruits/berries for antioxidants.Add apples, cranberries and bananas in your breakfast oatmeal. Take advantage of the natural sugars and gain on vitamins and potassium. Add pureed bananas to your cookies and take out some of the sugar. When you make French toast you can use less sugar for the egg mixture and add sweetness by using fresh fruits as a topping. Make your own ice-cream by blending a bunch of fruits and berries with low-fat yogurt. Then freeze it. You wouldn’t need any sugar at all and the yogurt will give you extra protein.”
My mama tries to limit me on my sweets, but I really love my sweets. How often can a personindulge in a fattening piece of pie or cake and not gain weight or do harm to their systems?
“Well, if I had the answer to that I wouldn’t have to work anymore! If you have a piece of pie or cake (or anything else for that matter) then please enjoy it like you should enjoy any food you put into your body. Everything is ok in moderation. If you know you had bad food yesterday then take it easy today or hit the gym harder. Every bad food sticks to us. Age and activity matter a lot. If you are younger and more active, then you will burn those calories quicker than an older person who’s metabolism is a lot slower. The point is to generally eat healthy and to stay active. Once you stop moving the body just slows down and anything will add pounds.I keep my diet as clean as possible so the occasional 3 a.m. pie or pizza should be allowed. ”
Thank you Chef Sven Garrett! I cannot wait to share this on the playground with my friends! Here’s to a healthy, happy 2017!
Tiny Style Guy (Jack Leonardo Henry)