Posts Tagged ‘ children ’

How to Drink Your Vegetables

Monday, March 10th, 2014

VanTrang Manges - Green MustacheYour kids happily eat plenty of vegetables. They look forward to lettuce, zero in on kale, and beg for broccoli. Right?

Ha.

Chances are, they don’t. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a four-year-old child should eat 1 1/2 cups of veggies a day. That can be a tall order especially when you have picky eaters on your hands.

Enter NYC mom of two VanTrang Manges. VanTrang began experimenting with green drinks for her youngest daughter when she realized that the toddler ate virtually no vegetables. One delicious drink led to another and VanTrang abandoned a career in finance to launch Green Mustache, a line of organic fruit and vegetable juice smoothies for kids. Green Mustache features three yummy flavors and is currently sold throughout the New York area.

If you can’t find Green Mustache at a store near you, or if you simply wish to DIY it, VanTrang shared with us a simple formula for blending up one of these nutritious drinks at home.

Start by enlisting your kids to help choose ingredients from each of these categories:

Smoothies are an easy way for kids to eat fruit and veggies.First, pick one of these for your base:

  • Almond milk
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk
  • Low-fat cow’s milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Orange juice
  • Water

Next, choose a green veg:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Collards

Then, pick a fruit (or two or three):

  • Banana
  • Berries
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Pineapple
  • Apple

Finally, supercharge it with one of these power foods:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Chia seeds
  • Nut butter
  • Raw cacao
  • Spirulina

Then simply blend it all together!
More smoothie tips from VanTrang:

Make It a Family Activity: Allow your child to choose which ingredients she would like to try mixing together—experimenting with different combinations is part of the fun! And this simple formula is a great way to start teaching children about proportions and how to follow a recipe.

Color is Key: Use berries to help turn your smoothie a reddish or purple color, which might make it more visually appealing for your child. Or use lighter-colored ingredients like peaches, bananas, and mango for a paler shade of green.

Choose Dark Leafy Greens: Dark leafy greens contain high-quality amino acids, important minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and beneficial phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant-based chemicals that support your immune system, improve health and longevity, and may reduce life-threatening diseases.

Freezer Fun:  Keep some frozen fruits on hand, especially some of your favorite seasonal fruits to ensure that you can have your tasty smoothie anytime. Freezing fruits is also a great way to not waste ripe fruit. If you like your smoothies extra cold like we do, use at least one frozen fruit to help chill the smoothie. And of course, you can turn your smoothie into an ice pop and serve it to the kiddos as a healthy treat!

Smoothie Sweetness: You’ll notice we didn’t add any sweeteners to the smoothie formula. Using fruits like bananas, mangos, or apples will naturally sweeten your smoothie and help mask the “green” taste of the veggies.

2+2+3 Rule: Part of the fun of making smoothies is experimenting with all the different possible flavor combinations. But keep in mind the following proportions to ensure a tastier experience: 2 cups greens + 2 cups liquid base + 3 cups fruits. Adjust as needed to make it more palatable for your child.

Thanks for the tips VanTrang!

Find more easy smoothie recipes.

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How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

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One and Done

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Last week, when the winds of the back-to-school  storm were just dying down — the 2-page list of supplies were purchased, new clothes and shoes and accessories had their way with my wallet, afterschool plans were set and paid for, the pediatrician saw us, and any sneaky lice were evicted from my 6-year-old’s head — my sister asked me, “When are you going to have another one?”

I kindly asked her to zip it.

She’s not the only person concerned with the contents of my uterus. Since my daughter’s first day home, I don’t think that I’ve gone a full week without someone asking when I plan on giving her a friend.

“She has plenty of friends,” I reply. “Friends that I don’t have to pay for.”

But everyone from my grandmother to strangers on the subway tells me that I am doing my daughter a disservice by “forcing her to go through life alone.”

At this point I wish I had a big buzzer like the ones that go off on game shows when a contestant gets an answer wrong, because according to studies (and me—Mother knows best) my only child is going to be just fine.

In a study titled, “Good for Nothing: Number of Siblings and Friendship Nominations Among Adolescents,” researchers found that the very modest social deficit sometimes seen in kindergarten evaporated when only children reached middle school. A large number of children (13,500) in grades seven through twelve at 100 different schools were asked to name ten friends. The only children were just as popular as their peers with siblings. Furthermore, the authors noted, “These results contribute to the view that there is little risk to growing up without siblings-or alternatively, that siblings really may be ‘good for nothing,’” reports Psychology Today.

So there you have it. She won’t be lonely. But what about the self-centered only child stereotype?

Confession: When I was in middle school, people always said, “You’re so bratty. You must be an only child.” And then they would find out that I’m the youngest, and that fit too — it’s always something.

In a study titled Behavioral Characteristics of the Only Child vs First-Born and Children with Siblings, researchers found that the status of being an only child is not associated with a poor outcome in several areas of the development.

“Simply, we tend to succeed at significantly higher rates than people raised with siblings, whether it’s at school or in our professional endeavors. Solitary pursuits like reading train our focus and curiosity and the verbally rich environment of life among adults accelerates our learning,” Lauren Sandler writes in her book One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One.

I suppose I cannot say for certain that the future doesn’t hold another child for our family; we haven’t done anything to make it technically impossible. But it is reassuring to know that, while I’m comfortably balancing my career, marriage, and one child, my daughter is not lacking in a single thing.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Playground made from trash gets children back in the swing
Ruganzu Bruno and his troupe of fellow eco-artists created a playground made of recycled materials to raise awareness about environmental degradation. (via CNN)

Pregnancy Hormone May Predict Postpartum-Depression Risk
Levels of a stress hormone released by the placenta could predict a woman’s risk of developing postpartum depression, new research suggests. (via Yahoo! News)

NYC School Principals Send Letter Refusing To Consider Recent State Test In Fall Admissions
Principals around New York City are fighting back against what they see as flawed state tests. (via Huffington Post)

Report: Nation’s kids need to get more physical
The prestigious Institute of Medicine is recommending that schools provide opportunities for at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day for students and that PE become a core subject. (via Yahoo News)

Parents Argue School Is Violating Separation Of Church And State
Does teaching yoga in public schools violate the separation of church and state? That’s what two parents are contending in a lawsuit against Encinitas Union School District in California. (via Huffington Post)

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Childhood ADHD tied to obesity decades later
Boys who are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in elementary school are more likely to grow up to be obese adults than those who don’t have the condition, a new study suggests. (via Reuters)

Newer whooping cough vaccine not as protective
A newer version of the whooping cough vaccine doesn’t protect kids as well as the original, which was phased out in the 1990s because of safety concerns, according to a new study. (via Reuters)

Home visiting programs are preschool in its earliest form
Through programs across the country, nurses, social workers or trained mentors offer support to new or expectant parents and impart skills to help them become better teachers for their children. (via Washington Post)

City closure of Cobble Hill preschool means kids are having ‘classes’ in parks, museums as parents fume
The Linden Tree Preschool is run by the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. The city closed it on May 9, saying it did not have permits for infants or toddlers. Since then, parents have taken their kids to the park and other field trips where teachers have been instructing the kids. (via NY Daily News)

USA Football health and safety survey shows few youth concussions
Fewer than 4 percent of youth players surveyed in a USA Football-sanctioned study suffered concussions in the 10 leagues examined. (via Fox News)

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Sweet Charity

Thursday, May 16th, 2013


No matter how health-conscious you are or what diet you’re on, there are times when you just can’t pass on dessert.

When it comes to Sandra Lee’s pineapple-passion-fruit cupcakes, Guy Fieri’s caramel apple bread pudding, and Buddy Valastro’s Italian butter cookies, I can’t think of a single reason to say no.

On May 1, I perused the World’s Largest Bake Sale at Grand Central Station, sampling sweets, meeting local bakers, but most importantly, learning about child hunger in America.

Sponsored by the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, the bake sale raised both money for the cause and awareness for the more than 16 million children affected by hunger in America.

I chatted with of New York City’s best bakers and browsed their selection of champagne cupcakes, pistachio-cherry scones, and peanut-butter-strawberry-jam doughnuts. All sweets were sold for $5, the proceeds from which were put toward the campaign.

Bake sale host Sandra Lee whipped up her favorite strawberry shortcake and banana split cupcakes for the event, and spoke to me about the urgency of the child hunger epidemic.

“Some working moms are going home with one check, paying rent, and wondering how they are going to feed their kids. Sometimes they have to choose between paying bills and food,” she said. “It shouldn’t be that way in America.”

Buddy Valastro, the “Cake Boss,” said that as a baker and a father, he just had to be part of the event. He also shared with me a personal story about his family history.

“My dad grew up in Sicily and I remember him telling stories of going to bed hungry, after sharing one plate with his family,” he said. “It really puts life in perspective. This is about more than raising money, it’s about saying, ‘Hey, America, this is happening!’”

Ty Pennington, former host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, expressed a personal connection to the cause and donated a colorful, handmade bake sale stand for the Share Our Strength Auction.

“I may not have a child of my own, per se, but it is staggering to hear that one in five kids goes hungry,” he said. “It really opens your eyes about not wasting as much and makes you think about what we can do to make sure they are fed.”

The Share Our Strength Auction for No Kid Hungry runs through May 31 and features items donated by food masters like Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse. This is your chance to take a class in the Cake Boss’s kitchen, dig in to Bobby Flay’s signature Southwestern dishes, or learn to swirl icing like New York’s iconic Magnolia Bakery.

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What I Saw When I Watched My Daughter Sleep

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

My daughter, Leeana, has plenty of charming quirks, like her little sweaty feet, and the way that she breathes through her mouth when she’s really focused. But these little nuances became a big worry, when she began snoring.

This wasn’t the cute purring that some kids do in their sleep. Leeana’s snoring actually woke her father up in the middle of the night. It made me uneasy, so I brought her into our bed so that I could monitor her sleeping, and what I saw shook me to my core.

My daughter stopped breathing in her sleep at least 6 times while I watched. She would jerk herself awake, gasp for air, and continue snoring until she stopped breathing again.

When I took her to her pediatrician the next morning, she told me that Leeana has sleep apnea. An estimated 1 to 4 percent of children suffer from sleep apnea, according to SleepApnea.org, many of them being between 2 and 8 years old.

Our pediatrician also explained to us that her sweating and heavy breathing were symptoms of her condition. She said that, while it wasn’t something to run to the emergency room for, sleep apnea does have several long-term side effects.

“As many as 25 percent of children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may actually have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, and much of their learning difficulty and behavior problems can be the consequence of chronic fragmented sleep,” reports SleepApnea.org. “Bed-wetting, sleep-walking, other hormonal and metabolic problems, even failure to thrive can be related to sleep apnea. Some researchers have charted a specific impact of sleep disordered breathing on ‘executive functions’ of the brain: cognitive flexibility, self-monitoring, planning, organization, and self-regulation of affect and arousal.”

Our pediatrician said that sleep apnea could be a result of oversized tonsils or adenoids. She also mentioned that a positive airway pressure (PAP) machine might help keep the airways open during sleep. The machine delivers pressurized air through a mask to hold the airways in the throat open.

I looked into these machines and found that the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia conducted a study on them last year. Researchers found that kids who used PAP machines had significant improvements after three months, even if the kids didn’t use it all the time. Although I’m worried about how comfortable she will be wearing it to sleep, if we do have to go that route, hopefully Leeana won’t need to use it for longer than a few months.

If your child is snoring, or has symptoms such as heavy breathing and sweating, be sure to discuss it with your pediatrician. It may also be worth it to stay up one night and monitor their sleep.

Leeana has an appointment with her ENT later this week. Hopefully a good night’s sleep is in her near future.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Lullabies and other music may help sick preemies
Singing or playing womb-like sounds in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) may help slow the heart rate and improve sleep and eating patterns of premature babies, a new study suggests. (via Reuters)

Children, Ages 5 And 7, Drown In L.I. Pool
A 5-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl drowned Sunday afternoon in a backyard pool in Suffolk County. (via CBS News)

Education Reform: Starting at the Beginning
School officials in Atlanta have been accused of racketeering for cheating on tests in order to gain bonus pay and status for their schools. (via Huffington Post)

Sexist ‘Avengers’ T Shirts Tell Boys To Be Heroes And Girls To Need A Hero
Marvel, the comic book publisher, is now contributing to the boys are strong/girls are weak dichotomy with two t-shirts based on the popular “Avengers” franchise. (via Huffington Post)

People, networks may sway parents’ vaccine choices
The people and information sources parents surround themselves with may influence their choice to vaccinate their children or not, according to a survey from one county in Washington state. via Reuters

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Woman sues Ohio clinic over failed abortion after delivering healthy ‘miracle’ baby
An Ohio woman is suing an abortion clinic after she says she made the painful decision to terminate her pregnancy because her life was in danger, only to discover she was still pregnant after the procedure. (via Fox News)

Indiana Bill Would Require Armed Guards In Schools
The National Rifle Association on Tuesday released its long-awaited “National School Shield Report,” a lengthy document that recommends that schools arm and train staff members who want to carry guns. (via Huffington Post)

Drinking, drugs more common for kids of deployed
Teens and preteens with a parent deployed in the military may be more likely to binge drink or misuse prescription drugs, according to a new study. (via Yahoo News)

Parents jailed for deaths of 6 children in UK fire
A judge has sentenced the father of six British children who died in a house fire to life, with a minimum of 15 years in prison, describing him as the “driving force” behind setting the blaze. (via Fox News)

Department of Education announces that 20 new schools will open in the Bronx next fall
Bronx high schoolers can prepare for careers in health care and software design at two new schools set to open in September. (via NY Daily News)

Police believe couple abducted their children from grandmother
Police believe a Louisiana man abducted his two young sons early Wednesday after breaking into the Florida home of the children’s grandmother and tying her up. (via CNN)

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