Archive for the ‘Kids And Veggies’ 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.

 

 

Late spring and early summer usually remind people of warmer days, trips to the pool, the beach, and vacations to Disney World, but for some people, the sweetest summer memory is a trip to their local farm, or farmer’s market, to get a taste of some of the freshest produce around, grown locally and healthfully.

You can’t beat slicing up a freshly picked cucumber or a juicy watermelon for a cool and refreshing salad, or a handful of plump blackberries to add to a smoothie or top off a cup of Greek yogurt. Here’s a list of when and where you can expect some of your favorite summer veggies to become available.

Avocados:
Known in health markets as a superfood, avocados offer a large number of nutrients and vitamins in a flavorful green package, with the good kind of fats that help your heart and your blood work as effectively as possible. They are an extremely fickle fruit, growing whenever they please, in warm climates, particularly in Florida, where many people have them in their backyards. Farmer’s markets all over the south will usually start to have them available toward the middle of the summer, but the earliest crops are likely to be hard. Let them ripen on the counter or in a paper bag until soft, peel them, slice them, and mash them into guacamole for your kids favorite Friday night Mexican dish, or chill the slices, sprinkle them with salt and pepper for a nutty flavored snack right and an energy boost right before your 3PM crash at work.

Berries: Another healthy favorite, the blue and the black berries offer antioxidants and a sweet burst of flavor, especially when picked right at the height of the season and allowed to sweeten in the warm summer sun. They grow wild all over the US, from New York to Florida, and farmers markets nationwide could feature these delicious fruits, or offer signs saying “Pick Your Own”. Use the berries to spice up a boring green leaf salad, or freeze them for pancakes during the fall and winter months. Canning is also a great way to preserve sweet fruits, blackberry and blueberry jam were perennial favorites in my Mom’s pantry as a kid. Try not to handle your berries too much before you eat them, the riper they are, the easier they bruise and become mushy, and their high water content makes them very susceptible to mold in the fridge, so be sure to use them or freeze them as soon as possible.

Cherries: Spring marks the arrival of the cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital, and those bright fragrant pink flowers offer up sweet red fruit as the summer arrives. Cherries are another great source of energy, and nutrients, and many varieties, be they sour or sweet, are available between the months of May and August.

Corn: There’s a anecdote that helped farmer’s gauge their corn as it grew in the early days of our history, “knee high by the 4th of July.” Summer picnics and barbecues often herald giant ears of sweet white, yellow and multi-hued corn with juicy kernels and bright green husks. This is the time of year where it is most often found down to $0.10 cents an ear or even less at your local grocery, but visit the farmers market for the best corn, I’ve found it to be particularly tasty in the areas of Iowa, Central Florida, and Virginia. Its available through most of the summer, but the best crop usually comes after the Independence Day holiday. Look for fresh green husks, plump ripe (not hard) kernels, and a sweet smell, with soft white floss. It was BBQ tradition in my house growing up that the kids would drag big boxes of corn out to the yard and strip every last strand of corn floss from the ears, while the adults had a chance to mingle and prepare the rest of the meal without us underfoot. It worked like a charm. We would inspect our individual ears like quality control officials, critiquing each other’s techniques and racing to see who could get the most corn shucked in the smallest amount of time.

Garlic: Globally, China is the world’s largest producer of garlic, growing more than 3/4’s of the world’s garlic (23 billion pounds) every year, but the United States has just the right climate for garlic as well, it is grown in every state except Alaska, and can grow often throughout the year depending on the climate, but the sweetest and most flavorful garlic comes during the summer months, particularly in Gilroy, California, which is the biggest garlic growing city in the US. If you are substituting fresh garlic for your normal garlic powder, 1/8 of a teaspoon of powdered garlic usually equals a single clove of the fresh stuff.

Limes:
Limes are the only citrus fruit that are in full ripened flavor in the summer, and grow best in tropical weather in the state of Florida. The tangy fruit makes a great topping for fish on the grill or addition to marinades for your favorite chicken dish. Before peeling a lime to use it for its juice, roll it around on your counter-top under the palm of your hand with heavy pressure, breaking up the membranes inside the fruit and releasing the flesh from the rind.

Peaches: I love anything and everything peaches, (really….anything, perfume, the color peach, peach scented fabric softener sheets) but my SO and I experienced the best peaches ever during a drive through Georgia, (after staying at a great friends house!). When I hear peaches, I think Georgia, and for good reason. The best, most plump, sweetest fruit come from from trees that have full sun and WARM weather. Avoid peaches that are not just a little soft to the squeeze, or have yellow or green near the stem. Buy a bushel or two, or even a laundry basket full and make a months worth of peach cobbler! I’ll be sure to drop by for a taste.

Strawberries: Another of my favorite fruits, since I live just a few hours from Plant City, Florida where the land is dominated by strawberry farms. I am willing to walk, bend and lift, for HOURS just to pick my own perfect strawberries, and the ones sold in the grocery stores, while good, I find are often moldy, mushy, or still too GREENish, which leads to sour berries in my experience. Greenish strawberries never taste right, they only ripen to the best flavor while still attached to the plant and enjoying that sweet Florida sunshine. Pick your own, or be very scrutinizing when selecting “strawbs” at the farmer’s market.

Tomatoes: My grandfather had a green thumb for tomatoes. He grew them every summer, and I am still drawn back to those childhood memories at his house on Long Island New York when I crush a tomato leaf between my fingers and smell the spicy sweet scent. The delicate yellow flowers turn into hard green balls which deepen in color and flavor until a sweet, juicy and tender tomato is born. Make sure and see if you can try a tomato at the market before you buy it, even the prettiest tomato might be a little on the sour side, which isn’t always bad, since different meals and different flavors require different ages of tomato.

Watermelons: Available in 44 of the 50 United States, watermelons are a staple of summer fun. Their pink sweet flesh and sharply contrasted black seeds bring on memories of 4th of July fireworks and summer carnivals. Look for a fruit that has a solid “thunk” when you knock on it, with no serious dents or bruises to the rind, but they are the only melon type fruit that does not smell “melony”, even when at it’s ripest. The sweetest fruit comes from regions that have a good amount of difference in temperature between days and nights. Most melons planted in May are ready to harvest by the end of June.

Remember that most farmer’s markets, especially larger ones, follow some regulation, but most are considered “Mom and Pop” organizations, particularly roadside stands, so be aware of things like worms, fungus, and imperfections that you may not be used to seeing while in your local supermarket.And just like you would at the regular supermarket, be sure to wash and fully inspect any produce that finds it’s way into your home, before adding it to your recipes.

Click here for a link to help you find Farmer’s Markets all over the US, and check with your local school district or your local newspaper for information about co-op growing areas, or community gardens that will have produce available, sometimes as an even exchange program, or for work done at the farm!

Getting your kids to eat their vegetables

I am very lucky that both of my kids love food. They will eat anything. Both myself and their father are the same way, but it makes it a lot easier. I know I can find something for them no matter where we are. When everyone else is feeding their kids chicken nuggets or pizza, my kids are munching on broccoli or hummus. I am not saying my kids don’t eat chicken nuggets or pizza, in fact, I don’t stress when they do because I know they will eat healthy at the next meal.

Vegetables have a bad reputation to kids. I try to serve at two vegetables every night. Try this recipe for broccoli.

BROCCOLI

Put one inch of water in a sauce pan.

Salt water
Bring to a boil
Add broccoli
Cover and boil for 8 minutes.
Remove from heat and drain water.

Add olive oil, fresh garlic (chopped or sliced) and lots of lemon juice.
Serve at room temperature.

This can be made in advance.

Let me know if this works out for you. It is MUCH healthier then putting cheese sauce all over it. I have a bunch of recipes that I can’t wait to share with you! Stay tuned!