Lucky you...St. Patrick's Day is a gift. If your kiddo shies away from greens, take this opportunity (no matter how long you expect it to last) to get their buy in on green food. Some true crowd pleasers include:
Shamrock chips (of which you can also make quesadillas) from Spiced Blog. Tip: This is a good one to make with the kids.
Green mac n' cheese from Weelicious. Tip: This is a good one to make ahead; then, attach a funny leprechaun story to it (e.g., the broccoli are leprechaun trees and the pees are leprechaun rocks).
I'm the kind of dietitian who prefers NOT to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I steer my clients towards useful and healthy options that exist. The best part of my job is letting people know that I have already sifted through the meal delivery kits, frozen food items, and millions of other products and services being thrown consumers' way.
That being said, this is Owen enjoying Harvest to Highchair's English Pea & Mint baby food.
While I have given you many tips and tricks in the past regarding making your own baby food, you have probably found that having a few back up jars of food on hand is also important. If you're in the greater Charleston area, take note of what Harvest to Highchair has to offer. The best thing about their products?
The nutritional value and taste of the fruits and vegetables used is retained more so than products that are pasteurized and made shelf stable. Check out the "born on" date on the label.
Beyond having a few extra items on hand, you may not have time to make your own baby food. This beautiful company will deliver whatever you need right to your door (coming soon to Amazon!). So...if you truly want homemade baby food without the fuss, try Harvest to Highchair....ASAP.
Author: Kari Johnson
"I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?” If you don't hear this at least once a day, then you more than likely do not have a toddler residing in your home (or they have an all access pass to the refrigerator, which is not recommended).
The "snack battle" is real, because oftentimes as caregivers, we have to decipher between boredom and actual hunger. A few tips for healthy snacking:
Following a few general rules helps cut down on potential frustration later on. For example, I enjoy cooking dinner for my family, but it takes time and planning to get the job done. With the effort that goes into it, I want my 5-year-old twins to actually eat what I cook for dinner. If snacks consume their afternoon, dinner becomes a hopeless cause.
My solution? On Sundays we have snack prep day as a family. We end up with healthy snacks that are ready for the week, and we also enjoyed a little quality time together. This plan also helps decrease needless snacking that can create unhealthy eating patterns for years to come.
Here are a few “nut free” ideas for the parents out there packing snacks for school as well!
Prepackaged Refrigerated Snacks:
Prepackaged Freezable Snacks Recipes:
Apple Carrot Muffins
½ cup oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup honey
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
3 large eggs and 1 large egg white
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrot
Preheat oven to 350oF. Whisk eggs, honey and apple sauce together. Mix all dry ingredients together. Add dry with wet. Fold in zucchini and carrots. Fill cupcake holders ¾ of the way. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Peach oatmeal cookies
1 cup oats
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp baking powder2 cup
2 Tbsp coconut oil or canola oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup honey
½ cup diced peaches
Whisk oil, egg, and extract together. In a separate bowl add all dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients until incorporated. Fold in peaches. Chill for at least 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 330oF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon cookie dough into 15 cookies and bake for 11-14 minutes. Cool on pan for 10 minutes.
Guest Blogger: Kari Johnson
If you're finding yourself at a crossroads to buy or make your own baby food, here are a few helpful tips to help you decide!
Benefits of homemade baby food:
What about the time it takes to make baby food?
The time is takes to make baby food is both a pro and a con. If you have a blender and a peach that is just a little too soft, you could have fresh food in a matter of seconds. On the other hand, if you don't have a few staples ready to go or if your baby's needs are a bit more specific, then you may be spending a bit more time in the kitchen.
So...exactly what do you need to make baby food?
A steamer or a stove top steaming insert for your pot, a blender, and containers with a tight seal for refrigerator and freezer storage.
Recommended starting age is at 6 months for a variety of pureed and mashed foods to be introduced.
While doing some research for an adult client, I found this great (yet simple) article on whether or not low carbohydrate diets are safe for kids.
Here are the article highlights:
I get a lot of feedback about the difficulties of getting a toddler to try new foods. One big one is regarding food waste. Parents don't want to buy a whole head of cauliflower if they're not sure their toddler will eat it. Not sure if it's cool to break that head of cauliflower in half? No worries, we've got this.
This morning, I interviewed Dylan who is an Assistant Produce Manager at my local grocery store. He gave me the lay of the land regarding grocery store etiquette.
Here's what you should know:
Oftentimes we tend to simplify the meaning of "being healthy" by focusing on singular measures such as weight. Health is really defined in terms of one's overall condition, which includes factors such as dental hygiene.
Developing good oral hygiene habits early in childhood is critical to longterm health. While I spend a significant amount of my time working with mothers and children, I also have experience working with older patients. One question I always have to ask these patients is, "How are your teeth?" I even follow up by asking them to actually show me their teeth. Why? I need to know that they can eat!
To pave the way for long term oral health, keep in mind that food choices over time can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Overall, foods and beverages that are high in sugar or are acid can be particularly harmful as they erode enamel and decay teeth.
Some basic rules of thumb:
My toddler had one juice box and never looked back. I bet this is the case for most of your kiddos. It's almost as if sugary drinks tattoo the tongue, leaving a permanent impression. In some respects, it makes sense. Our bodies get energy from sugar, which means we need it and ultimately might crave it.
However, certain sugars are better than others. For instance, fruits are healthier than candy because they provide fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Alternatively, things like sugary drinks (e.g., many juices and sodas) are usually comprised of "empty calories" - meaning they provide calories, but little nutritional value.
One of the less obvious downfalls of sweetened beverage consumption is that those who drink them do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food. In the end, this results in more calories consumed and increases obesity risks. One study indicates that for every sugary beverage consumed by a child, their risk of obesity increases 60%. Similarly, sugary beverage consumption increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Overall, we have learned that people who consume sugary drinks are inclined to have relatively lower quality diets.
Besides the negatives of sugary drinks, there are many positives to drinking water; they include:
One last thing...if you believe your child is dehydrated or ill (e.g., he or she has signs or symptoms of sickness such as diarrhea) consult your physician before re-hydrating with anything other than water. Products such as kool-aid, boxed juice and broths may have the wrong make up of sugar and/or salts that could ultimately make your child sicker.
Meatless Monday is a global campaign with the goal of reducing meat consumption by 15% to decrease stress on our bodies and the planet.
I like Meatless Mondays for a variety of reasons. For one, I am reminded to include beans and other legumes into my weekly menu. I especially like leveraging organic canned beans on Mondays because it's a stress-free way of easing back into the work week. If you are not regularly including legumes in your meal planning, you are missing out!
Plant-based sources of protein, like beans, have my family eating more fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium. In addition, when we're consuming plant-based sources of protein we are NOT consuming proteins high in trans and/or saturated fats (e.g., steaks).
One other huge benefit of Meatless Monday is that my family learns to "deal" with not having their favorite meals every night. We all try new things together. This doesn't mean that we all like the new things we try. In fact, my husband is on the same learning trajectory as my toddler in terms of green vegetables. They are learning to broaden their tastes together...how sweet.
Here are a few of my favorite Meatless Monday recipes:
1. Meatless Monday. "Why Meatless?" Retrieved from http://www.meatlessmonday.com/about-us/why-meatless
2. Meatless Monday. "About Us". Retrievefd from http://www.meatlessmonday.com/about-us/
While I have many anecdotes of my own that compel me to believe a baby’s food preferences can be developed in the womb, there’s also research that validates this line of thinking.
The Monell Center in Philadelphia, PA focuses on researching the senses of taste and smell. They’ve identified how things like vanilla, carrot, and garlic flavors can permeate amniotic fluid or mother’s milk. Their studies confirm that what women consume during pregnancy and while breastfeeding can shape their babies’ food preferences later in life.
Basically, our like or dislike of certain foods is a byproduct of taste conditioning that occurs from the time we are in the womb on into adulthood. Consuming a variety of nutritious foods during pregnancy is key to giving the unborn baby a healthy head start.
With this said, it is important for parents to facilitate ongoing “taste education” for the whole family. This involves a myriad of factors from creating a non-distracting eating environment to serving a variety of foods from the time your child starts nursing, through the introduction of solids and beyond.
My toddler didn't exactly ask me like this...it was more like, "Mom, I eat this?" So long as the rind is not man made, then it's usually edible. Simply put, you don't want to eat rinds that are made of wax, plastic, paper or cloth. These materials are actually used in replace of a true rind.
Also, if you find that a natural rind is particularly hard you might use it to flavor your dishes rather than eat it as a stand alone item. One example here is using parmesan rinds to flavor soups.
Yoav Perry, an artisan cheesemaker and blogger, provides somewhat of a list of cheese rinds to either avoid or eat.
Overly-tough, dry and hard rinds include:
Summertime bears heaps of delicious produce. Beginning as early as May, fruit options in Texas soar. Peach stands in the Hill Country open, and strawberry picking is a must out towards Marble Falls.
With these options becoming more readily available and at a more affordable price, we naturally consume more. For toddlers, this can mean a few less than desirable side effects such as diarrhea and coinciding diaper rash at which point I get significantly more questions about the actual sugar content of various fruits.
Here's a quick list of fruit with g of sugar per each. Enjoy!
1 large apple 25g
1 medium banana 19g
¼ medium cantelope 11 g
½ medium grapefruit 11g
¾ C grapes 209
2 medium kiwi 13g
1 medium orange 14g
1 medium peach 13g
1 medium pear 16g
2 slices of pineapple rounds 10g
1 medium plum 8 g
8 medium strawberries 8 g
1 C cherries 16g
1 cup diced watermelon 10g
1. USDA. What are added sugars? Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/what-are-added-sugars.
2. USDA. All about fruit. Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruit.
3. American Heart Association. Sugar 101. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#.V4_EQJMrJE
I've read many stories about "Pinterest stress" including a 7,000 person survey done by TODAY.com highlighting how 42% of U.S. mothers worry they're not crafty or creative enough.
I sometimes feel a similar stress as it pertains to my kitchen skills. I follow many food blogs that showcase beautiful cuisine, and I oftentimes hear myself muttering "as if" under my breath. As a dietitian, though, it is my duty to try some of these (seemingly) more complex things out for you.
Below is a look at my "healthy curly fry" attempt using a spiral vegetable slicer that I received as a gift.
Total prep time: 15 minutes (including unpacking, set up and clean up)
Watch out! This kitchen gadget is sharp!
Two things to note:
Overall, I thought the benefits outweighed the cons. And...the more I've used this particular gadget, the easier it has become. This is a tool that has become something I can realistically use. This is a great way to use any extra veggies you might have (e.g., potatoes, carrots, zucchini).
The entire tasty bakes curly fry recipe can be found at: http://www.thehealthymaven.com/2014/08/crispy-baked-curly-fries.html www.thehealthymaven.com/2014/08/crispy-baked-curly-fries.html
Great article published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics outlines 4 toddler snacking mistakes.
One challenge I hear from fellow moms is that they repeatedly find themselves throwing out produce.
First, acknowledging food preferences is okay. This doesn't mean you don't ask your family to try new things, but if they all hate asparagus there are plenty of equally healthy alternatives.
Second, storage is a big deal! Check out a produce storage guide if you need a refresher. Besides proper storage techniques, there are other preparation tricks that can increase consumption.
If you still find yourself with items that are just about past their prime, below is one example of how I make sure they don't go to waste.
I had leftover asparagus from dinner last night. I also had a ton of tomato, onion and red pepper from a past weekend's BBQ.
Step 1: Spray the bottom of the foil pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Step 2: Dice leftover veggies and throw directly into bottom of pan.
Step 3: I had extra cheese from a HelloFresh box I had received. I topped the veggies with that.
Step 4: I whisked together five eggs and 1/4 cup milk together. I usually keep a carton of organic egg whites on hand for times like these. A 50/50 mixture of regular eggs to egg whites producing an exceptionally great result.
Step 5: I poured the egg right over the top of the veggies and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
Step 6: Cover first with cling wrap, then with foil.
Step 7: I add a directions label and freeze as is! You can cook it either frozen or thawed. I like to thaw the day before in the refrigerator.
(Cooking instructions on the label read: 350 degrees for 40 min. covered with foil only.)
I have a love-hate relationship with my pantry. On the one hand, it neatly stores dry ingredients and kitchen equipment. On the other hand, it houses things like crackers and peanut butter - two of my toddler's favorite things. Despite my efforts to have set meal times and to deliver fully assembled, beautiful meals he still asks for a "nack" from the pantry. How is this possible? If you are experiencing something similar, reinforce the good habits you've already set. Go a step further and consider the structure of your pantry. Check out the diagram below.
Let's be real...feeding toddlers can be frustrating. Beyond this, ensuring our kids get nourishing food can be down right mind-boggling. If you're to the point where you're starting to pull out your hair, here are a few simple, yet helpful tips you can implement now.
He also might go a step further and say "I want snack from there" as he points to the pantry where those pesky little gold fish live. I tell him that it is lunch time and that the plate in front of him is his lunch. I make myself clear.
And then I wait...most often it takes about ten full minutes for him to try the plate. The behavior within that ten minute period can be fairly easy to handle or downright exhausting. I just vocalize what's happening and then sometimes do the dishes to let him know that he'll need to sort through the dilemma in front of him alone for a few minutes.
No lie...he always eats the plate I make.
1. Van Kleef E, Van Trijp JCM, Van Den Borne JJGC, Zondervan C. Successful Development of Satiety Enhancing Food Products: Towards a Multidisciplinary Agenda of Research Challenges. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2012;52(7):611-628. doi:10.1080/10408398.2010.504901.
2. Harris G. Positive mealtimes with toddlers - responsive feeding and distraction. University of Birmingham.
Registered Dietitian, Austinite, Mom with a 2-yr old, Dog lover