Archive for the ‘Healthy Eating’ Category

I continue to refer to my toddler as a picky eater, but in reality I can honestly say I think most toddlers are picky.  As babies they happily ate up most anything you put in front of them.  As babies, everything is new, some new exciting texture, taste, and smell.  As toddlers, they realize they have their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes.  Anyone with a toddler will tell you they are hardheaded, strong willed.  My toddler would personally live off graham crackers and milk all day every day if I gave him the ability to choose. 

 

I find myself often times frustrated at his lack of desire to try different things.  Toddlers like routine, and change is a hard concept.  For some it’s harder than others.  “They” say that toddlers take up to 3-4 times of seeing something new on their plate to try it.  Who is “they” anyways?  And “they” clearly haven’t tried feeding my picky eater.  So, being the creative mama I am I watched my sons eating habits, focused on things he liked and didn’t like.  He prefers to drink his food; he loves “shakey’s” also known as milk with some sort of protein powder.  He loves his milk, and prefers to drink his food rather than eat.  Who can really blame him, drinking takes less time than sitting down to eat, and his little busy mind has things to do and places to see!

I was worried he wasn’t in taking enough healthy calories because of his inability to try new things.  Some days it seemed like he would only eat a bite of bread and maybe 4 goldfish and call it a day.  I talked to his pediatrician who said he was thriving, and growing so to try not to worry, and continue to offer him healthy meals.  Out of desperation and frustration I started making him smoothies and shakes.  The options are really endless, with different fruits, juices, milk, almond milk, you name it.  He also is at the age where he loves to help.  Mixing and pouring can keep him busy for hours, so I put him to work helping to pour different fruits, milk, and juices into the blender.

I purchase a sugar free vanilla, or chocolate protein powder to add some healthy calories into his smoothies and shakes.  There are so many different options but I’d like to share a few of our favorite recipes below. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (or sugar-free carnation instant breakfast)

1 tbsp peanut butter (if your child is allergic you of course would want to skip this)

½ banana

Mix all ingredients, and enjoy!

 

Another staple smoothie in our house is:

Berry Smoothie

1 cup milk

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or vanilla carnation instant breakfast)

½ cup mixed berries

¼ fresh spinach

Mix all ingredients, and enjoy!

 

Like I mentioned above, options are really endless.  You can use mango, strawberries, add a teaspoon of cinnamon.  Experiment, and let your children experiment with you as well.  And most importantly enjoy these special moments with your children, they go much to fast!

As moms we are known as multi-taskers, the ones who can do it all.  The other day I was trying to juggle my children as I paid for 10 items that I somehow crammed into my kid free hand.  Mumbling to myself I said, “Not sure why I didn’t grab a cart,” the young boy bagging up my items smiled at me and said “moms can do it all, right?”  Well as much as moms would like to be able to do it all, we can’t.  We are only human. 

One important aspect of being a mom is providing your children with healthy meals, and the nutrition they need to grow.  Let’s check back into reality for a moment, feeding your kids healthy food isn’t only expensive, but it can be time consuming, and then there are those children (my son included) who would rather feast on chocolate and graham crackers all day.  Too many healthy articles on line to choose from and the fact that it’s much easier to stick to a routine recipe than it is trying to juggle the demands of your children all the while attempting to create the newest, healthiest dinner masterpiece make it seem easier to just stick to quick microwaveable food.  Not only that, but sometimes there is that recipe that just fails; plain and simple.  Or it may be exceptionally tasty, but your kids dry heave at the sight. 

Chicken tenders, pizza, carbs, carbs, carbs seem to be a favorite in my house.  I however, realize living off carbs isn’t probably the healthiest meal plan for my children.  So instead I secretly sneak things into their muffins, their breads, you name it I’ve hidden it.  Usually it goes completely unnoticed. 

I would like to share an absolute favorite in my house.  First of all, what child doesn’t like pizza?  Secondly, what child doesn’t like to help make pizza with their mama’s?  Kid’s like to help in the kitchen, so I put mine to work!  It can be fun to have them help choose the toppings of their choice (within reason of course, chocolate chips are not an option in this case).  Rather than use regular pizza dough I’m going to share a family favorite using Naan bread for a healthier alternative to pizza.

 

My children absolutely love this, and it is so simple and easy to make.  There are endless options with toppings of your choosing.  You can choose different cheeses, make your own pizza sauce, or take the busy mom’s route, and purchase sugar free pizza sauce.  Your choice!  I personally use either Trader Joes brand, or Ragu light no sugar added.  The less sugar the better in my household.

What you will need:

Naan Bread

Sugar Free Pizza Sauce

Low-Fat Mozzarella cheese

Pureed spinach

And lastly, toppings of your choice.

Not only are these exceptionally simple to make, but very affordable.  In our household we usually make two pizzas.  I puree about a cup of fresh spinach.  Frozen is okay too.  I mix that into about a cup of the pizza sauce.  Like I said earlier, hiding veggies is the key to getting your picky toddler to eat their greens without fuss.  I spread the sauce with the spinach puree over the Naan bread.  My family isn’t too big on sauce so we spread a thin layer.  We then sprinkle with cheese.  Add some olives and pineapples to the top and put it in the oven on 425 for 10-15 minutes. 

Another favorite in our household is using turkey pepperoni found in most deli sections of the grocery store.  This recipe is not only quick, and simple but exceptionally affordable for families looking for healthier meal options within a budget.

 

 

One of the best investments I have made for my family is a juicer. A small investment can go a long way nutritionally speaking. My kids will drink fresh juice and it is a great way to ensure that they are getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. The process of juicing removes the pulp and fiber from the fruits and vegetables, thus allowing our bodies to absorb more of the nutrients. These juices have not been pasteurized meaning that more of the nutrients are present and are not boiled away. There are no additives or preservatives in fresh “raw” juice either.

My Juicing Bible is The Juiceman’s Power of Juicing by Jay Kordich. This book showed me the different ailments that juicing can help alleviate, such as, acne, eczema, anxiety, fatigue, sore throat, and sinus problems. The list of ailments is very lengthy and although I do not use juicing in place of medicine, it is always helpful when I feel a skin problem or cold coming on to be proactive and mix up one of the juicing recipes I have collected (many out of this book).

My family’s personal favorite:

Carrot-Apple Juice

4 carrots
2 apples

Cut apples and carrots into smaller pieces and feed it through the juicer.

For smaller children, I would recommend watering juices down. This is a great way to get the nutrition of an entire carrot when your kids won’t sit and the entire vegetable (especially without dips etc). Coming up with creative names for juices always helps too.

My family is a HUGE fan of beets. Your kids might turn their noses up to the thought of eating beets, however, you can juice them and get a very nutritious and tasty drink that your kids will love.

Carrot-Beet Juice

4 carrots
1 beet with greens

Wash the beet very well and cut into pieces before processing.

Once you start juicing, you will find that it makes you feel better and the hassle of washing the appliance is well worth it. Although I do not juice everyday, I realize that it is a great way to get the kids involved to learn what benefits each fruit and vegetable has. My kids have grown up around this and love to participate as well. It is never too late to start. I highly recommend The Juiceman’s Power of Juicing by Jay Kordich. Let me know what your family thinks about juicing.

Feb 16, 2011
1:19 am

Flipping through the pages of the web, and always looking for a great and informative website for Moms to go to and I stumbled upon Meals Matter at www.mealsmatter.org . This site is fully funded by the Dairy Council of California, the same people that sponsor those hilarious California Dairy cow commercials, and it is chock full of important and useful info, tips and advice to keep your meals nutritious, tasty and most important of all, kid friendly.

Home Page and Sign In
With their quick and easy registration you can sign up to use their entire site and all of its info. A simple user-name and your email address gets you access to recipes, meal planning information and online tools that will make your weekly meal menu much smoother, healthy and fun for everyone!

Lifestyle Tools

Make healthier meal choices and learn great tips about foods that are good for you with a series of interactive tools such as the nutrition planner, a calcium quiz, a fitness planner, and even fun activities for your kids to do! You can also find out what kind of food personality you are, from Gourmet Diva to last Minute Mommy…

Meal Planning:

Their Meal Planning section offers you info about creating the perfect meal for any day of the week, giving you things like shopping lists, recipes, a pantry guide and even acess to hundreds of articles related to planning a great meal for you and your family.

Nutrition

Healthy living is simple and easy in this section of the site. They give you great lists of healthy foods, lots of ideas for the healthiest food possible, and answers to all sorts of questions related to living healthy, optimum weight levels, and even holiday tips and tricks.

Recipes

If you need a recipe suggestion, a meal idea or an idea for a quick meal, this section can help you find just what you are looking for.

Fish or shellfish doesn’t have to be something that your family eats once a week on Fridays just as a force of habit or because that’s what Grandma did when you were growing up.. With its massive health benefits, low fat totals, and great flavoring and texture, your kids can be cod or clam connoisseurs in no time! With a little guidance about buying your fish or shellfish, what to look for, how to store it, how to prepare it, and how much to cook, you and your local fish market owner can be good friends in a mutually supportive and appreciative relationship.

Is that Alive?
There were days in my childhood when my parents, usually my Dad, would stop by the fish market on the way home from his job, and buy an enormous lobster or two for dinner. His friends at the market gave him a great price, so any event that was worth celebrating was usually marked by the lovely brown creatures making a visit to our home. Now I say brown, because most kids see lobster as the red cooked kind, and they are not red normally. Normal, uncooked, still very alive lobster fresh out of the tank are a brown color, ranging from a purplish brown to a greenish brown. They are beautiful to look at and fun to play with on the kitchen floor, just leave the rubber bands on their claws.
*Please Note: It never occurred to us that the lobsters may have been uncomfortable outside of the water, and should have been boiled quickly, for my home-schooled brother and I, they were just another experiment.*
I will eat just about any kind of seafood that exists, with the exception of squid, because of the texture not the taste, but the major caveat behind that is that it has to be cooked. I think that the risks outweigh the benefits of a raw clam or raw oyster or raw sushi fish being consumed, especially on a daily basis, or from a local supermarket, where it sits on a refrigerated shelf for hours at a time. I don’t intend to preach my thoughts on you and your family, but I will let you know that I will not cover any type of raw fish eating in this post. Sorry.

Shellfish

Oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster, scallops, crabs, all types of glorious creatures that sit on the bottom of the ocean floor, and filter the oceans for their nutrients. They are not giant predators like sharks, nor do they have the creepy and boring life of a jellyfish, floating along on the current.

Shellfish all usually have a mild sweet flavor when cooked in their own juices, but some can be strong, depending on where they come from. The flavors and textures of shellfish make them easy for kids to enjoy, and any type of fish can usually endure a good amount of seasoning to make them even more kid friendly. I had a friend who has a daughter, around 8 now, but when she was five, she refused to eat any kind of fish except for the basic frozen Mrs. Pauls type fish sticks. To solve this problem, her father, my friend, coated some clams in bread crumbs and salt and pepper, and fried them until golden brown and told her that someone had broken up all of her fish sticks. They were now called clam nuggets. She ate every single one. Be creative with your fish.

How Much Shellfish to Buy:
Since your family has expressed an interest in shellfish in their next meal, the question of what and how much to buy comes to mind. Ask the markets fishmonger, he or she is often quite skilled and can give you GREAT recipe tips. For a general idea of how much to buy, especially if you are going to buy prepackaged frozen fillets out of your grocers freezer:

Shrimp:    Between ¼ lb and a ½ pound depending on how they are prepared, use less if peeled.
Oysters: If in the shell, six would fill you up, if “shucked” between ½ to ¾ cup of meat
Crab:    Legs: Usually a cluster of legs is a giant meal for a small child, split them

  • Whole Small: 3-4
  • Meat Only: ¼ to ½ lb
  • Claws: 2-3

Lobster: Save a small tail for a small child, or try just a claw, unless they are a fan. My brother and I have been known to clean an entire lobster carcass for every single ounce of meat.
Clams:

  • Shell – 6 to 8 each person
  • Shucked: ½ cup meat per person

Shrimp, lobster and crab all have a solid firm texture when cooked, while crabs and oysters are a bit softer and can be a bit stronger flavored. Colors range from pale beige to brown to bright pink when any one of these items are cooked, so make sure to ask your fishmonger what you should look out for when you buy.

Handling Live “Bugs”

Live lobsters are known as “bugs” down here in Florida and in many place all over the United States. Raw shellfish usually come still alive, and handling and storing them is not difficult. Clams and oysters should smell fresh, not fishy, and the shells should be solid, crack free and have no discolorations or marks on them. Live clams and oysters really do close when you knock against the shells, if they don’t close, toss them in the trash.  Contrary to popular belief you do not have to submerge your shellfish in water for them to live for up to a week, just keep them properly refrigerated, in a slightly open container, and avoid going from hot to cold very quickly. The bottom drawer of your fridge works great for shellfish, just don’t forget about them. Its still recommended to eat your live purchases as soon as possible, within 48 hours for best flavor and safety reasons.

Tomorrow we will cover how to cook fish and shell fish.

Happy Fishing!

I am overwhelmed by the response that I’ve received to this subject! Thank you everyone for your nice comments, encouragement and stories about your own families and experiences!

Welcome to Part 2!

So we’ve covered the basics of healthy eating, and what we can do while in the kitchen and at the table. Today I will cover exercises and fun activities that you and your kids can do to get everyone moving and keep everyone healthy! At the end of the post there will be several websites where you can find great, kid friendly, and HEALTHY recipes for your family, and more websites that can give you more information for physical activity.

Before I start the first thing to be absolutely clear on is this. PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING ANY TYPE OF REGULAR EXERCISE REGIMEN.  Let your child’s pediatrician know that you will be increasing the levels of activity in your home, just like you would before the start of a sports season, or before the start of the school year. Their doctor can tell you what you need to know about things like asthma, allergies, medication interaction, and go over any worries you or your child might have. They can also help you set realistic goals rather than beating that number on the scale. Remember that the important point is to make sure your kid is healthy, not sitting at a perfect number of pounds. I myself have always been ten or fifteen pounds over the recommended weight for my age and height, but I know that its because of the muscle mass that I have, not because I am overweight. Make sure that your kids know that it does not matter what that scale says, it matters how they feel. Anyone who has been at their perfect weight without being driven by the scale knows what it feels like. You have great energy, you are happier, you aren’t sluggish, you just feel like you are at your optimum.

Another thing to think about is Body Mass Index. This is a calculation that their doctor can help you with, by taking several measurements of your child, factoring in things like age, health, level of activity, and initial weight. The end result is an estimate of your child’s body fat percentage, and the doc can give you a healthy range that your child should be in. If your next doctors appointment isn’t for a while, or you would like to do it for yourself, there are several websites that you can go to to get a relatively accurate estimate of your personal BMI. Again I don’t recommend estimating your child’s BMI through a website, because there are several different variables that are not taken into account, such as growth rate, possible growth spurts, and height ranges not being accurate. Have their pediatrician or a registered nutritionist do it for you.

Okay, so you’ve gone to the doctor, you’ve gotten the ok and a list of guidelines to follow, and you’ve gotten the whole family pumped up for a few weeks of fun and fitness. Now what?

First step is to figure out what your family loves to do. Take a vote, or have everyone write their favorite activity, both indoor and outdoor, on slips of paper. Every day pull a slip of paper from a jar and that will be your exercise for the day. Make sure your kids aren’t writing things like video-games, unless you use a device like the Wii Fit system, which I will cover in detail in a few paragraphs.

A few ideas for indoor exercising:
Stretching
Yoga (sure to be a hit with your preteen or teen girl)
Dancing
Aerobics
Stair Climbing (Yes, use your real stairs)
Boot Camp (Have a different child be the drill instructor for every day and guide the whole family through a series of different exercises like jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, and crab walks)

Outdoor Exercising: The world is your oyster! If you can do it, do it outside!
All of the indoor exercises..plus:
Hiking
Rock Climbing
Gymnastics, tumbling (make sure the grass is soft and that no one exceeds their skill level)
Rollerblading
Power-Walking
Running
Ultimate Frisbee (great for families with dogs!)
Football
Kickball
Dodgeball
Soccer
Pretty much anything involving a ball, even ping pong can burn serious calories!
Head to the playground!
Spend a day at a gym
Walk to school in the mornings
Jump Rope
Swimming ( A personal favorite, this non-weight bearing exercise is great for everyone, burns the most calories for the effort, and is also the most fun)
MUCH, MUCH MORE!

It’s pretty obvious that there are plenty of fun things that you and your family can do both inside and outside. So now you’ve got an activity, a family that is on board, and a doctor that is more than happy to help you track your results and give you advice along the way… the last step is to:

MAKE IT FUN.

That’s it. Don’t hound your kids about reaching a goal, encourage them with praise and constructive criticism. If someone doesn’t feel like doing an activity, give them the option of a different one, but don’t let them sit out. Make sure your kids realize that this is a family effort, that everyone is involved, and that your expectations of everyone is the same. Make sure you, as the adult, lead the kids. Set good examples, be EXCITED about the days activities. If you can, get a whiteboard and some dry-erase markers and track your activities! Take pictures, make an exercise scrapbook! Years from now your kids will thank you, and their kids will thank you for instilling such great habits in your kids.

The Wii Fit Program:

I am a big fan of the Wii gaming console, made by Nintendo, mostly because of my mother. When I was 18 she had a stroke, that left one side of her body paralyzed and reduced her ability to speak, comprehend, and read. As tough as that could have been, my mom never gave up, and after several months of physical therapy, returned to about 75% of her normal capacity. She never regained the full use of her right hand, but with just her left hand she could bowl, golf, play tennis, and do puzzles, all with the Wii console by Nintendo.  It made her so happy to be able to participate in games with my brother and I, and she would beat me at bowling 9 times out of 10. That was when the Wii had just come out, and the Wii Sports game was included in the packaging. Years later there are way more games you can play, things like Dance Dance Revolution, Fencing, Yoga, even a Wii BootCamp! You have the option of the nunchuk controller, the Wii-mote, a foot pad for motion tracking, a balance board, and many other accessories that can make it fun and easy for just about anyone to exercise, even when its raining.  For more info about the Wii system, please visit HERE.      For more info on just the WiiFit system visit HERE.

Yummy And Healthy Recipes For Your Kids

EatingWell for Kids
Healthy Recipes For Kids
Kids Health Recipes
Taste of Home: Top 10 Recipes for Kids
BodyMindSuccess: Recipes for Kids
Food Network for Kids
Healthy Eating Made Easy

Exercise Plans For Kids
Keep Kids Healthy
Shape Fit for Kids
Kids Fitness

Its been proven in every major and minor study ever done on America’s kids that our children are getting fatter. The advent of the video game age, the lack of funding for PE programs in school, the hectic schedules of working moms and dads who can barely get food on the table much less pay for soccer uniforms, its all adding up to a very unhealthy epidemic. The Health Department of the State of New York published these statistics as a general rule for our nation:

“Approximately 10 percent of 4 and 5 year old children are overweight, double that of 20 years ago. Overweight is more prevalent in girls than boys and in older preschoolers (ages 4-5) than younger (ages 2-3).

Obesity increases even more as children get older. For ages 6 to 11, at least one child in five is overweight. Over the last two decades, this number has increased by more than 50 percent and the number of obese children has nearly doubled.”

Those are very scary numbers for any parent who has ever faced a weight problem, or faces one today. Kids who struggle with their weight are less healthy, less confident, and even tend to do worse in school than kids who are more slender. Kids who are picked on in kindergarten for being “the fat kid” grow up with that image as their mentality, an image that can be costly, even disastrous to their self-esteem, and can take years of expensive therapy and even emergency help to rid of. Kids who struggle with teasing and bullies in elementary school and middle school have it even worse, because even if they lose the weight, they will always carry that scar. Kids are cruel, especially when they don’t understand the consequences for their actions. Parents have a serious opportunity on their hands to nip any health and emotional problems in the bud by creating a healthy lifestyle for their children from day one.

The first thing to do is talk to your child’s pediatrician. If you suspect your child of being overweight, or at an unhealthy weight, discuss your fears and what you can do to help. Children grow at different rate, and growth spurts are common. What might be a chunky toddler could grow into a string bean six year old, and vice versa. Make sure that you and your child’s doctor are aware of any hormonal, or allergic possibilities, something like a sluggish thyroid isn’t common in children, but it can be an option when dealing with extreme weight levels.

Number two is understand that a diet is never a good option for a child. Restricting the amount of nutrition that a growing kid gets can be harmful, and teaches them from an early age that food is something that they must always face adversity with. It is better to eat healthy, smart, low calorie choices, and balance those choices with good amounts of physical activity, than limit the foods your child can consume. Only a pediatrician or nutritionist should ever be the one to suggest putting your child on a low calorie diet, no matter what influence you get from friends, family, and “helpful” strangers. You want to develop a healthy and balanced relationship with food by teaching your child about what they put in their mouth, and why that apple and peanut butter is better for them than an entire piece of chocolate cake for breakfast.

Make sure that you and your child are focused on his or her physical health, things like “how far can she run without getting tired”, “can he walk up those stairs at the mall without getting winded”, “does she look forward to things like recess and gym at school?” instead of the number on the scale. Assessing these things can help you understand your childs level of physical activity, and make it easier for you to implement activities at home that will inspire them to live healthier on a longer term basis. Do your kids run in from school and plop down in front of the TV or the computer? Is your tree-house full of cobwebs from lack of use? Is there brand new sports equipment from two birthdays ago that has never been touched? Making a quick assessment of the level of physical activity of your household is not only good for your kids, but good for the adults in the house, and the family unit as a whole… Time spent bonding on nightly walks around the block, or weekly basketball games at your local YMCA will be of the most benefit to your kids and you.

Do not segregate your overweight child from your other children. If there is special treatment or punishment, your child will feel “different” and that can and will cause more harm than good. Be sure to praise everyone’s efforts in eating healthy and being active. Responding with encouragement will strengthen everyone’s resolve to be fit.

Make sure that your daily eating routine is scheduled. Try to eat meals as a family at the same time as often as you can. This can be easy with some of the quick and easy recipes that I’ve posted, or grab a healthy eating cookbook, or one made just for your baby and toddler, from Williams Sonoma. Meal plans can be made an shopped for in advance, and leftovers can easily be packed as school lunches, so you don’t have to worry about your kids filling up on chips and soda in the cafeteria. Keep your meals in the kitchen or  turn off the TV if it is visible from the living room. Try to limit continuous grazing or multiples snacks through out the day, as that teaches your child to eat due to boredom or just because. Never offer food, especially sweets as a reward, as that can lead to emotional eating.

Educate your kids. Learn about things like serving and proper portion sizes. Teach them the importance of the US Food Pyramid, which may be alot different than the one you learned in school as a kid. Find out about the new pyramid and your daily recommended servings HERE.

If your doctor okays it, a multivitamin is always great for kids. They’re not the chewy tasteless bits of chalk that they used to be, vitamins come in kid friendly packaging like bubble gum, fruit flavored chews, and even powdered drink mix.

That’s part 1 of this topic, come back tomorrow for part two where we go over several healthy recipes, games, and tricks to inspire healthy eating and activity in your kids and even in their friends!