This post is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.
One of the big benefits of living in a warm place like Arizona is that the weather is beautiful! Even though the temperatures are slowly dropping, our winter weather is lovely and allows us to spend most of the fall and winter outside, usually without a coat.
Another benefit of this glorious weather is the longer growing season. Local farmers and gardeners don’t follow the same planting season as other areas of the country. Here, many crops are still going strong.
On a recent visit to a local farmers market I got to see this first hand. If you are struggling to eat healthy, a farmers market is just the inspiration you need.
Family Trip to the Farmers Market
Farmers markets are a great place to bring your family. I think kids will have a new appreciation for fresh produce when they see it at a farmers market. Some vendors even have fruit for sampling. Who can resist that? They can also answer your questions about how the food was grown and new ways to prepare it.
The Uptown Market in Phoenix is a family-friendly place with an abundance of fresh veggies and fruit. You could easily do your weekly meal planning based on local finds.
I filled my bag with potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, beans and much more. I bought the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had! If I had planned better, I would have brought a hand cart so I could buy more!
We had family visiting us from out of state and I wanted to show them how great healthy food could taste. They were impressed with the vivid colors and flavors!
Eating at Home
Instead of eating out several nights a week, start a new tradition of fixing healthy meals together using fresh ingredients. If you have a local farmers market, make that part of the tradition too!
In most cases, food you make at home will be healthier than food you purchase at a restaurant. Spend a little time shopping for fresh ingredients that you will enjoy all week. My farmers market veggies seemed to last longer than veggies I buy at the store. I’m sure there was less transport and storage time.
Even though it seems easier to go out to eat some nights, I feel like it actually takes longer. Between driving to a restaurant, waiting for our dinner and then eating, I could have cooked a meal, enjoyed it and cleaned up in the same amount of time.
Cultivating a Love of Healthy Eating
On days I let my kids help; it does take longer to prepare dinner. I’m not really a patient mom when it comes to cooking with my kids, but I know it’s important. The time I spend teaching my kids to prep, cook and enjoy healthy foods is an investment in their future. Cultivating this love is easier to do when your kids are small.
My eight year old takes pride in helping make dinner. A couple of times a month we have a baked potato night. He will wash the potatoes and put them in our electric pressure cooker. He is so proud that he can cook dinner for the family.
The next time I visit a farmers market, I plan to give each of my kids their own bag and a few dollars to make their own purchases. Everything I bought was surprisingly affordable, sometimes much cheaper than my grocery store.
When kids have a say in what they buy, they will be more likely to actually eat it. Go ahead and encourage your kids to choose their favorite veggies, have them pick one more new thing to try. Maybe they’ll discover they love zucchini or heirloom tomatoes.
Make sure to take in all the farmers market has to offer. The Uptown Market recently had a really fun event sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s Nourishing Arizona initiative. People could bring in candy (it was right after Halloween) or other sugary treats and exchange them for five Homegrown Healthy Bucks at a Sugar Swap! The candy wrappers were used to create art and the Homegrown Healthy Bucks could be used to purchase fresh produce.
Does your family visit farmers markets? How do you encourage eating healthy at home?