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Snacking ’ Category
Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
This is a guest post by Brooke Bunce.
Actress, reality TV host, writer, and director are just a few of the roles Alison Sweeney has on her extensive resume. Add mom of two, cook, and US Highbush Blueberry Council brand ambassador to the list and that definitely constitutes a packed schedule.
That said, Alison knows better than anyone how to make healthy eating a part of her busy day. She and her husband David were able to get nutritious meals on the table for Megan, 5, and Ben, 9, without too much of a fuss—that is, until Ben decided he didn’t want what his parents were preparing for him. Instead of discipline, Alison took another route.
“I challenged him to get an appreciation for how hard it is to make a dinner. He ended up preparing dinner the next night—and it was delicious! He did such a good job,” she says.
Now, both Ben and Megan play an active role in dinner prep at the Sweeney household, though it isn’t always easy to achieve culinary harmony. Fortunately for the rest of us, Alison recently shared a few of her tricks for those times when your kid’s taste buds just won’t budge.
On trips to the grocery store, Alison and her husband pick out tons of fresh fruits and veggies to keep on-hand at all times. Then, they take it one step further: “If you have fruit at home and set it in a bowl at the front of the fridge, washed and ready, it looks delicious and it’s ready to go,” she says. “Every time I put a bowl of blueberries or grapes in the fridge, they’re gone instantly.” With produce at the ready, it’s easier to keep kids away from convenience foods like bagged potato chips.
Give it a New Angle
If your kids aren’t enthusiastic about a certain food the first time they try it, don’t give up completely. Alison tries different cooking methods when reintroducing foods that her kids didn’t like initially. Or, she finds a new way to dress up ordinary produce, such as coating matchsticks of veggies in cornmeal for a healthy spin on French fries.
Assign Everyone a Job
When cooking becomes an integral part of family time, it encourages participation in the kitchen and trying new foods, Alison says. Reimagine meal prep as a positive outlet for little ones’ energy; assign simple tasks to the kiddos while adults handle the more complex duties. “If we can change the attitude [around cooking], it can be really fun,” Alison says.
Get Kids Invested
Including kids in every step of the process—from gathering fresh produce to sprinkling in seasonings—gives them ownership over their food, which makes them more willing to eat it. “We had a tomato plant in our backyard when Ben was little and he would pluck tomatoes right off the vine and eat them like apples, “ Alison says. Ben also helped collect fresh herbs for dinner, too. “When they feel like it’s their dish, then they really love eating it.”
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Alison Sweeney, Blueberries, Brooke Bunce, cooking with kids, healthy meals, kids cooking, nutrition for kids, nutrition for picky eaters, picky eaters | Categories:
Diet, Meals, Nutrition, Snacking, The Scoop on Food
Thursday, August 21st, 2014
This is a guest post by David Teten, father of three and partner with ff Venture Capital, an early-stage technology investor in New York City. David blogs at teten.com.
The world rains sugar on my children. The bus driver offers my child bubble gum. The teachers give cupcakes at every birthday party. The school vending machine is full of junk food; so is the one at the YMCA. At camp, the counselors offer candy and an ice pop at the end of the day. Our kids are invited to birthday parties which include a cake, a candy piñata, and then a goodie bag bursting with still more more candy.
Why are people incessantly feeding my kids sugar?
Most parents want their children to be energetic, happy, and healthy. However, I see an amazing number of adults who are doing the opposite: hurting the health of their kids by offering an alarming amount of processed sugar on a regular—if not daily—basis.
It’s been proven that obesity is a problem in our country; two-thirds of all Americans are overweight or obese, and one-third of all children are overweight or obese. But for some reason, most of the adults I see do not take the logical next step of changing the way they feed their children.
In my opinion, these are the major reasons why adults put this known health hazard in front of children:
1) It’s tradition to bring cakes and other sweets to school to celebrate special events.
Fifty years ago, almost any business or social event would include cigarettes, often offered as a party favor. Now, most educated people would be shocked to see people smoking at an event with children in the room. Similarly, I predict that 20 years from now, we’ll look back in astonishment at the amount of sugar that we unthinkingly fed our children. Tradition is not something we’re locked into.
2) We only serve treats “occasionally” at “special events.”
In a class of 20 kids with 20 birthdays, plus various holidays and other special events, virtually every school week includes a reason for a party. There are many other ways to celebrate, such as making a craft or doing something active. Feeding sweets to children is an example of the tragedy of the commons. Schools, synagogues, churches, party organizers, sports teams, meal hosts—all provide occasional treats to make kids happy. These accumulate into constant exposure. Ultimately, it’s our children who pay the price.
3) Treats attract children and make them happy.
There is endless academic research showing that when people or children perform a task for a reward, they lose interest when that reward disappears. By giving kids candy at school, you’re not teaching love of learning; you’re teaching love of candy.
4) It’s the parents’ responsibility to train the kids to make the right food choices.
Only someone with perfectly obedient children could make this argument. We don’t have any perfectly obedient children, and neither do our friends. Children are bad at understanding long-term consequences and don’t have all the facts they need. We send them to school and raise them to help develop these skills.
5) It’s too expensive to serve healthy food.
To quote: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Serving kids processed sugar now is cheap, but creates very significant long-term costs in treating obesity and diabetes. I’ve written elsewhere on low-cost ways to create a healthy office or school environment; also see Parsely’s “Startup Diet.” Many parents, including me, will gladly pay a premium to feed our children real food.
6) It’s too difficult to reduce the amount of sugar that we serve.
Many schools are strictly and successfully nut-free, even though nuts are dangerous to just a small number of kids. Sugar is dangerous to all kids, so why can’t schools succeed in reducing sugar? Many schools that have tried to move to a healthier diet face protests from children acclimated to eating sugar with every dish at home. It’s frustrating that this dilemma exists, but it shouldn’t mean that we throw up our hands and do nothing. Instead, we should focus on educating children and adults about healthy habits, and incorporate whole foods steadily into school programs.
Our schools and camps are places of education. But education is not just books; education is also nutrition and healthy living. I am not advocating forcing kids to eat things they are going to hate, but merely providing them with healthy options and offering them fewer temptations.
One alternative is to order a meal kit from Plated, a company that makes it easy to prepare home-cooked meals. Additionally, if you’d like to start the healthier-eating conversation at your child’s school or camp, or on her sports team, I suggest using these form letters.
It is up to us, as parents, to protect our children. If we approach the problem head-on, and introduce real foods in a natural, gradual way, sugar will loosen its damaging hold on our kids.
My Suggestions for Healthy Kids’ Snacks:
Cereal without sugar
Edamame – boiled soybeans in the pod
Whole grain, low-salt snacks
Beans and Bean Dips
Cottage Cheese with Fruit Pieces
Any vegetables: Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, avocados, etc.
Mini rice cakes—unsalted
Applesauce (natural, made from whole apples, without added sugar).
Disclosure: ff Venture Capital is an investor in both Plated as well as Parsely, creator of the Startup Diet.
Image of candy via Shutterstock
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candy, child nutrition, childhood obesity, kids, kids health, op-ed, opinion, sugar, treats | Categories:
Diet, Meals, Nutrition, Obesity, Snacking, The Scoop on Food
Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
This is a post from Jillian Riley of A Mom with a Lesson Plan provided by our sponsor Del Monte. This content was commissioned by our brand partner. Such content is not written by, and does not necessarily reflect the views of parents.com.
After a summer full of together time the approaching school year is bittersweet. With a 3rd grader and a 2nd grader, I am excited about having some full days dedicated to kid free work time. But I’ll miss the long games and extra cuddles that come with lazy summer days.
Another change that happens when school starts is food. At home I choose what the kids eat for snack and lunch. It’s easy to provide a grazing tray with healthy snacks and fill their plates with just as much lunch as they need. For school, filling their lunch box seems like it should be just as simple.
But then kids are kids… and Mom is not standing close by.
Problem #1 – Trading Food. It’s bound to happen. The kid next to yours will bring an exciting food that you NEVER buy. You will send a special sandwich that someone else just has to try and before the monitoring adult knows what’s happened the cafeteria has become a trading event.
The Rule – Eat What’s Packed in Your Lunch Box. As a family, talk about why it’s important that your kids eat what you’ve packed. You plan and pack foods that will fuel their body and brain. You know what they’ve had for breakfast and you probably know what they’ll have for dinner. If someone has something that your kids would like to try they can write down the name or try to describe it to you. If it’s something you want to serve great! If it’s not get creative and make a version that works for you.
Del Monte Fruit Burst Squeezers and Del Monte Fruit cups come in a variety of yummy flavors. Everyone will want to trade with your kid! (And he won’t be willing to give it up.) Enter the Del Monte Facebook contest and let them know if it’s squeeze or spoon at your house.
Problem #2 – Throwing Food Away. It actually never occurred to me that this might happen until my son’s teacher told me they were having a problem with kids throwing away their food. At first it may not seem like that big of a deal, but then I thought more about it. Imagine the Mom who sends her daughter with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich day after day. The daughter throws that sandwich in the trash every day and comes home with an empty lunch box. The Mom then assumes the sandwiches are adored and gobbled up everyday. If she knew… she would probably switch up the main dish for something that would actually be eaten!
The Rule – Uneaten Food Gets Put Back in the Lunch Box. This is a great rule for two reasons. My kids bring home a lot of food because they are too busy chatting to eat. I don’t mind. They eat what I packed on the way home as an afternoon snack. It’s also a great rule because I know the amount of food they are eating. Kids tend to go through spurts. Some weeks they will eat and eat and eat. Other’s they will barely touch their food. This let’s me know just how much to pack.
Del Monte Fruit Burst Squeezers contain 1 1/2 servings of real fruit and is an excellent source of Vitamin C. Plus they have NO high-fructose corn syrup and NO artificial flavors.
With these simple “Lunch Box Rules” lunchtime is a healthy event no matter where the kids are eating. YAY for that!
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Thursday, August 7th, 2014
This is a guest post by Karen Cicero, Parents’ Contributing Food and Nutrition Editor
For the last few days, my daughter’s plain graham crackers have been coming back in the lunchbox she takes to camp. When I asked her why she didn’t eat them, her reason was clear: “I’m tired of the same stuff!” OK, I get it. I have fallen into a rut at the supermarket buying the same snacks that I know are at least somewhat healthy rather than stopping to read all the ingredients on the packages of new products.
Good thing is, last week I invited a bunch of kids to an event for a story in a future issue of Parents (no spoilers, sorry) and since I had to feed them something while they were there, I asked them to try a bunch of new snacks. Here’s what they thought was super yummy and what will be showing up in my daughter’s lunchbox next week.
* Horizon Snacks
Kids recognized this brand from their organic milk and tried the company’s new cracker line without hesitation. They liked all the flavors, including the cheddar snack crackers, organic cheese sandwich crackers, and chocolate grahams in the shape of cows and globes. Confession: I couldn’t stop munching on the chocolate grahams either.
* Tree Top Applesauce Pouches
The kids particularly enjoyed the flavor of the apple and mango puree. Each 50-calorie pouch has 2 grams of fiber and all the vitamin C that kids need for the day.
* Pirate’s Fruity Booty
It’s so colorful (pinkish-purple) yet it doesn’t contain any food dyes! It’s made with corn, rice, soy, and dried raspberry powder. Bonus: Pirate’s Fruity Booty is made in a facility that’s free of peanuts and tree nuts.
* Plum Organic Go Bars
This is a granola-type bar that’s made with five kinds of produce including carrot, kale, date, and apple. It also contains whole grains, fiber, calcium and vitamin D. Kids gobbled up the chocolate chip flavor.
* Late July Tortilla Chips
My daughter has been a fan of the company’s Dude Ranch chips so I wasn’t surprised that the new restaurant style tortilla chips tasted amazing. The kids (and parents) liked the sea salt flavor, which is certified gluten- and nut-free. Just add salsa or guac.
* Tasty Brand Chocolate Layer Cake Cookies
Of course, you’re not going to give your kids cookies for snack time every day. But I do pack my daughter cookies in her lunch (for camp and school) once or twice a week. My philosophy: It’s better to learn how to have sweets in moderation than avoid them altogether. The kids thought this brand, available exclusively at Whole Foods Market, tasted amazing and I like that I can recognize the ingredients listed on the label.
* Honest Kids
These pouches—about 30 percent fruit juice and 70 percent water—are perfect for kids who won’t drink plain water. They’re 40 calories each, and our tasters liked the Super Fruit Punch and Berry Berry Lemonade flavors the best.
What snacks are your kids enjoying this summer?
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chips, cookies, easy, healthy snacks, Horizon, Karen Cicero, late july, natural snacks, organic, Pirate's Booty, Plum Organic, quick snacks, snacks, snacks for kids, summer snacks, Tasty Brand, Tree Top | Categories:
Nutrition, Snacking, The Scoop on Food
Friday, July 18th, 2014
This is a guest post by Karen Cicero, Parents’ Contributing Food and Nutrition Editor.
Fish, whole grains, veggies—these probably aren’t your kids’ favorite foods (okay, they might not even like them at all), but it’s worth your time to work on it. Here’s why: A new study of 9,000 children ages 2 to 9 in eight European countries found that those who most closely follow a Mediterranean diet are 15 percent less likely to be overweight. I admit that it doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but considering nearly 1 in 5 American kids ages 6 to 11 is overweight, it makes a significant dent. Plus, since obesity rates increase as kids get older, it’s worth getting on the right track before the tween and teen years.
What’s so special about the Mediterranean approach? The researchers think that the high fiber content and healthy fats found in foods like nuts, avocados, olive oil, and produce may help prevent kids from overeating. “This is the first study I’ve seen that makes the connection between the Mediterranean and obesity in kids,” says Lauri Wright, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and mom of three. “We already know that this type of eating plan is healthy in many other ways—like helping to prevent heart disease—so it’s wonderful that it may have extra benefits for children too.”
Of course, you’re not going to be able to switch your child’s eating habits overnight, but take these steps to make your family’s meals and snacks more Mediterranean:
* Do over dip. Swap the creamy salad dressings your kid drenches his baby carrots in for healthy hummus.
* Make pizza at home. Use thin whole-grain crust. Make it yourself (find a recipe here) or buy pick up a package of whole-wheat Naan bread (my daughter prefers it for her pizza!). Top it with whatever veggie your kid likes—even if it’s corn.
* Start working in more seafood. Let your child give it a try in a no-pressure situation, like when it’s on a buffet or when she’s having a bite of yours. When my daughter was a toddler, she used to swipe clams and mussels from my plate, at first mainly because she was intrigued by the shells. But then she began requesting a bowl of her own! Eventually, work your way up to homemade fish nuggets—Wright coats pieces of mild fish with applesauce and then rolls them in cornmeal before baking. When you’re ready to move onto grilled fish, top it with a salsa made from your child’s favorite fruits. That’s how I got my daughter to taste salmon and sea bass, which are now her faves.
* Build on veggie success. Chances are, your child likes a lot of different kinds of fruits and a few veggies. Combine a favorite with something that’s unfamiliar or not as well liked (such as corn with red onions or cucumbers with radishes or watermelon with baby spinach) to increase the chance that he’ll eat it. Salad can be a tough sell so start with mild butter lettuce and add a lot of fun familiar ingredients (like dried fruit, sunflower seeds, or orange wedges). Kids may also enjoy salads more if they’re chopped. Even though it takes longer to prepare, you’ll have a happy, healthier eater as a reward.
Image of Mediterranean food via Shutterstock.
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diet, health study, hummus, kids, kids health, kids snacks, Mediterranean, nutrition, obesity, snacks | Categories:
Health, Meals, Nutrition, Obesity, Snacking, The Scoop on Food