Here's some good news for parents having to battle cartoon characters on the fronts of sugary cereals or salty snacks- the federal government is setting up voluntary guidelines that eliminates marketing sugary, salty foods to children. That means Toucan Sam and Chester the Cheetah would have to pack their bags and find a home elsewhere. And for parents, losing these identifiable characters on the fronts of unhealthy snacks means one less battle in the grocery store. Now if we could just do something about the candy in the checkout lane...Chester and Sam won't be out of work for long. In addition to removing such icons from unhealthy foods, the regulations push for using much marketing strategies with healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables.
Now for my anecdotal evidence to back up this maneuver- at Trader Joe's they have a monkey figurine hanging above the bananas, and my kids are really attracted to it. So by my little sample group (an n of 2, certainly not up to publishing quality but it makes me happy) I know that such campaigns can be successful.Research shows that fast food and soda advertising marketed towards kids increases consumption of those products. So these guidelines could have some real practical effects on kids diets. Just to note, some of the worst cereals, as compiled by the British based Consumers Association, marketed towards children include Cookie Crisp, Golden Grahams, Coco pops
. I always thought the little crooks on Cookie Crisp were kind of cute, but they are more insidious than I realizedI think that it's great that this collaboration between industry and government is taking place, though the voluntary nature of these regulations does make me wonder how effective it will be.
But regardless our kids could use less sugar and salt in their diets, so any step in that direction is a positive one.
Simply toss kids yogurt tubes into the freezer for a quick, refreshing snack
Here's a great snack that only involves tossing a ready made snack in the freezer. Before you know it, you'll have some great snacks to beat the heat with.This snack comes from my Mother-in-law. We spent this past weekend with them and my little boy fell and hit his mouth on the edge of a wagon. She pulled out a frozen yogurt on the go (she had both Go-gurt, which is a yoplait variety and YoKids, which is an organic Stoneyfield variety) as a palatable first aid measure. It worked, he was happy and his mouth didn't swell as much as it would have otherwise.But aside from a first aid measure (as practical a snack as that is, hopefully doesn't come in handy too often), this is also a great snack for everyone. My woundless daughter instantly wanted one, and as he continued to snack on them for the next day or so while his gums healed, she insisted on having one alongside him. I don't think it was in sibling solidarity, but more so because they're so tasty. The freezer was cleaned out by the time that we left, and my little boy was a happy camper.
And he had a healthy dose of calcium to boot.
Here's a really quick and easy snack for your kids. This isn't my idea personally, a friend of mine suggested it after her boss came back from the Middle East with a box of stuffed dates. So many thanks to her and to her boss for bringing back sucha tasty snack idea.
Dates are intensely sweet and rich, They are full of fiber and energy-rich carbohydrates so that your kids will be ready to get back into the game after eating them. They also have potassium and B vitamins. However since they are so sweet, the energy your kids get will be used up pretty quickly. If you fill them with a protein-rich food, then you will be giving your kids a snacks that has carbs for quick energy utilization and protein for long term reserves. Enter the pecan, which also just happens to fit nicely inside a halved, pitted date.
Pecans are the only native American tree nut. They have vitamin E, antioxidants, vitamin A, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, B vitamins, zinc and fiber. That's a laundry list of good things for your kids, and an added bonus is that they taste great.
Another thing that I love about this recipe is that it takes about 30 seconds to make. This might be my quickest snack ever...
Pecan stuffed dates
Prep: Too quick to count
3 fancy medjool dates
6 pecan halves
Simply cut the dates in half and remove the pit. Then stuff the center with one pecan half. Repeat until all the date halves are filled. Enjoy!
When you are living on a budget, buying organic fruits and vegetables can be hard to swallow. But you can prioritize your shopping list so that you only buy the organic fruits and vegetables that are most likely to have a lot of pesticide residues. It may be hard to believe, but if your kids eat their 5 servings of fruits and vegetables from those that are high in pesticide residues, they can be ingesting up to 10 different pesticides a day. Here's a list of the so-called "Dirty dozen", meaning that they are highest in pesticide residues, as compiled by the Environmental Working Group
. So if you can't always buy organic, focus on these groups to reduce your kids pesticide ingestion exposure.1. Celery
7. Bell peppers
9. Kale (hmmm, might not be a hot ticket item with your kids)
12. Grapes (imported varieties)
By this point anyone who's read this blog once or twice knows that my family is addicted to trail mix
. It's portable, high protein and full of great things like omegas, vitamin A, fiber and antioxidants, depending on your concoction. And although I'm not concerned with the fat content,seeing as the fats in nuts and seeds are "good fats" I do understand that the high fat content can be worrisome. That is especially true if your kids eat a lot of it in one sitting or if you're trying to help them choose lower fat foods.
If you purchase ready made trail mixes, make sure that you are getting ones that don't have chocolate chips or other enticing sweets. Those add empty calories and fat that doesn't have the health benefits of fats found in nuts and seeds. In addition your kids will probably preferentially eat those tidbits first, filling up without getting the nutritional benefits of trail mix.That being said, you can also cut the fat of trail mix by adding some low fat ingredients to your already made varieties. So if fat is a concern for your, here's five healthy foods that you can add to your kids trail mix to reduce the fat content. 1. Wholegrain crackers: Cracke
rs are low calorie, fun for kids to crunch and can be really good for them if you get ones that are whole grain. They also add some carbohydrates to your mix, which will give your kids energy quickly. An added bonus is that they take up a lot of space, leaving less room for more fattening foods. 2. Cereal: Unsweetened cereals are also a great carbohydrate to add to your mix. Similar to crackers they are low calorie, low sugar and low fat. In addition they are usually fortified with vitamins and minerals and are less likely to get broken in transit. 3. Large dried fruits: Pitted dates, apricots and mangoes will add fiber and vitamin C to your mix
without adding more fat. Larger fruits are also more filling and, similar to crackers, will take up space that would otherwise be occupied by high fat ingredients.4. Pretzels
: Pretzels are fun to eat and add that savory element to your mix. They are also low calorie and low fat.5. Banana chips
: Here's a fun way to spice up your mix without adding fat. And banana chips are easy to find and reasonably priced.I hope that helps make your trail mix just as tasty with a little less fat. Enjoy!
So Dr. Seuss's birthday miraculously passed us by. It was March 2nd, but I think that his birthday still deserves a Healthy Kiddo's homage. Thanks to Theodore Seuss Geisel I get to constantly contort my tongue in Fox in Socks
, nod off several times reading The Sleep Book
, and enjoy the redundantly hypnotic power of Green eggs and Ham
. So, with all my gratitude, here's a rendition of green eggs, Healthy Kiddo style.I absolutely love eggs. They are a great food for kids; packed with protein, low in fat and one of the only foods that has naturally occurring vitamin D. They are also versatile (try them scrambled, poached, fried, boiled, baked) and tasty, so it's not a battle getting your kids to eat them. We have our own chickens and consume roughly 15 eggs per week among the four of us.
We're not big meat eaters, and eggs help fill that gap in our diets. I feed our chickens lots of flax and sunflower seeds so that their eggs have lots of omegas, but you can easily find omega-3 eggs at your grocery store if you want to incorporate them into your kids diets.So how can you make them green without using artificial food coloring? Enter the avocado, a.k.a. the alligator pear
. Rich in vitamin E, carotneoids, beneficial fats, vitamin K
, and potassium
avocados are a great food. Sometimes they get a bad rap for being fattening, but the fats in avocados are fats that are good for you. Commonly we make the mistake thinking that all fat is bad. In fact fats are a necessary component of human's diets. Children need to get 30% of their calories from fats, ideally fats that are beneficial as opposed to fats derived from animals. So go ahead and give them an avocado, it's good for them despite the fat content.I hard boil several eggs at the beginning of the week for lunches during our crazy weekdays. It's easy to make great hard boiled eggs, and then you don't have to worry if you're out of bread for sandwiches on Friday morning
. I hope that your kids enjoy this recipes, and while you're at it you might as well enjoy a reading session of Green Eggs and Ham
. Ultimately Sam I am is right- you might just like different foods if you only give them a try.Green eggsPrep time
: 5 minutes (if eggs are already hard boiled)Serves: 2 2 hard boiled eggs1 avocadopinch saltPeel the hard boiled eggs, then cut in half, Remove the yolks. Set the whites aside on a plate.
In a small bowl combine the egg yolks with the avocado. Add a pinch of salt, then mash everything together with a fork until the mixture is smooth. Spoon the mix into your egg white halves. If desired, serve with ham slices.
Here's a fun new way to eat bananas- frozen and with a "chocolate" sauce. Inspired by my little monkey.
My daughter is a climber. She was climbing before she could walk. After a trip to the ER, stitches and a missing tooth I have made peace with this aspect of her personality. I even find humor in people's reactions when they see her scaling a lemon tree barefoot and in a tutu. She's my little monkey, so here's a snack that I thought the Simian in her would enjoy.
Though it may be hard to believe, this recipe actually took me awhile to put together. The third time was a charm, and I hope that your little monkeys agree. Mashing the bananas beforehand is key. Initially I cut coins and froze them like that, but then the bananas were so dense that they hurt to bite through,
I always buy organic bananas (I know, that's not much of a surprise). They don't cost that much more and the regular ones are heavily sprayed with pesticides. Bananas are highly prone to parasitic infection. In fact the variety that our Grandparents ate was wiped out by a parasite, and no longer exists. So the variety that is ubiquitous in our grocery stores, and is also coincidentally one of the least flavorful, is treated with lost of pesticides to ensure that they won't suffer the same fate. Organic bananas, on the other hand, are grown at higher elevations to avoid potential parasites.
The sauce for this recipe also gave me come trouble- it was either too dense, too runny or just bland. So we formulated a ghetto pudding: pudding in principle but ghetto in that it doesn't involve nearly as much cooking time or care. I added peanut butter because I like to have protein with our snacks, but if your kids are allergic you can always opt for another butter or simply leave it out. You can also omit it if you want to make a less fattening sauce, however I'm always OK with good fats in my kids diets, especially when protein is involved. We also threw in cocoa powder so that it really looks like chocolate, without all the sugar and fat. Enjoy!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: ~ 5 minutes
Freezing time: ~2 hours
1 large banana
Mash the banana with a fork. Then, using a small teaspoon or baby spoon, drop mounds of mashed bananas onto a piece of parchment paper on top of a baking sheet. Make 12-16 mounds, depending on the size of your banana. Stick in the freezer until they start to freeze, roughly 15 minutes. While they are freezing, for the sauce in small saucepan combine:
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1.4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
Heat on medium-low until the mix is starting to bubble, then add:
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch.
Stir until the sauce bubbling and thickened. Then remove from heat, and add:
1 teaspoon vanilla
Let the sauce cool. Then pull out your bananas and quickly coat one mound at a time by dropping it into the pudding. Using a spoon and your fingers cover with the sauce, then remove and drop onto the parchment paper. Stick back in the freezer for 1 1/2 hours, or until frozen. Then remove and serve. Store leftovers in a ziplock in the freezer.
Childhood obesity has tripled
in the the last 30 years
. There is a whole host of potential reasons
, yet the solutions to this epidemic are meager in proportion. And that's what makes research by Cornell professor Brian Wansink, PhD, so interesting. Dr. Wansink studies human eating behavior and has a very interesting approach to helping kids make better food choices: trickery.Traditional approaches to getting kids to eat healthier, like forcing them to eat their vegetables, can lead to resistance. As any parent knows, children don't like doing that disrupts their independence. So by manipulating their environment (or behavioral engineering, as Wansink calls it)
you can present healthier choices while making them think that they came up with it on their own accord. Here's an example that Wansink offers: if you want your kids to eat carrots, don't simply tell them to eat their carrots. Instead offer them carrots or celery, and then when they choose carrots they'll think they came up with it themselves. Another interesting approach is swapping out your plain fruit bowl for a more decorative one. More attractive dishware is more appealing, as shown in public schools in Plattsburgh, New York. When fruit was moved to the end of the food line and served in more attractive bowls, fruit sales increased four fold.Here's a list of the things that will make your kids make better choices in the foods that they choose:1. Placement
- by placing healthy foods at the end of a cafeteria line, sales of fruit can increase up to 70%.2. Marketing
: Change the name of your vegetable of fruit to make it more appealing. A great example comes from the blog Super Healthy Kids
, in which Amy suggested calling avocados alligator pears to make them more attractive.3. Convenience:
Keeping that fruit bowl within kids reach, in the center of the table for example, will make them more likely to opt for fruit for a snack.4. Visual cues:
By keeping healthy foods more visible, kids are more likely to select them. Likewise, keeping high-fat and high empty calorie foods out of sight, they are less likely to attract your children's attention.Hopefully these simple strategies will help making your kids diets healthier, without adding any conflict to the dinner table.