Monthly Archives: April 2012

Feeding the Kids

My kids are good eaters. Even the little one who we call “picky” is really just a lot more picky than her sister, but she is still a lot less picky than most other kids we know. I mean, she loves kale! And even she is getting better every day when it comes to eating. It could be that we just got lucky or it could be our philosophy on feeding them, or a little of both. But this is how feeding the kids works in our house.

They eat what we eat. A lot of the parents I know, maybe most, make separate meals for their kids. Each night for dinner, they make a “grownup meal” for themselves and they also make a “kid meal.” The kid meal usually consists of typical “kid food” – chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese – the stuff you see on restaurant kid menus – and maybe a simple veggie or fruit on the side.

We don’t do this. Never have. From the time they started eating table food, they ate what I made for us.

Enjoying some grilled chicken and squash.

They have to try everything. Not just once. Every time I make it. Tastes change. They aren’t allowed to say, “I don’t like this.” Okay, so they’re allowed to say it, but it’s not considered a permanent state. The next time I make that particular food, they have to try it again. One bite. If they still say they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat any more of it at that meal. But they will have to try it again the next time I make it. The rule is that they have to try at least one bite of every thing on their plate. And, yes, there are definitely foods they have claimed to not like at one time that they now eat. Just the other night, we made my 4-year-old try one bite of the grilled onion on her plate after she once again said she doesn’t like onions.  She ended up eating every bit of it on her plate, all on her own.

No being sneaky. I absolutely do not believe in that whole “sneaky chef” thing – sneaking healthy foods into other stuff you know your kids will eat. I firmly believe it is important to educate our kids about food and healthy eating so they can learn to make good choices both now and as they get older.

Now, I do put vegetables into things as I often as I can, but they are not hidden. For example, my kids love macaroni and cheese with vegetables in it – spinach and broccoli are their favorites. My older daughter is actually disappointed if there are not vegetables in her macaroni and cheese.

Don’t deny them treats. After eating spinach omelets for breakfast, grilled chicken and veggies for lunch, carrots and celery for snacks, and kale at dinner, my kids are absolutely allowed to have a piece of chocolate or some ice cream as a treat.  I like to have “treats,” especially when I spend most of my time making sure I eat healthy. So should they.  They’re kids. Teach them good habits, but also let them be kids and enjoy. It’s also part of learning about food and learning to make good decisions. They are learning that as long as you are eating healthy most of the time, it is also okay to sometimes have the things you enjoy that aren’t as good for you. They are learning about moderation.

The week before Easter, my 8-year-old told me that she decided she didn’t want to have any “treats” at all that week because she knew she was going to get a lot of a treats that weekend. Completely her idea. And she did it. That’s my 8-year-old making a responsible decision about her own eating because she has learned about food and healthy eating. That’s also why I don’t buy the whole “sneaky chef” thing. Education is too important.

It’s important to let them be kids, too!

Home vs. Away. These are our general habits for feeding the kids in our every day life. When we are not at home, the rules change a bit. If we are at someone else’s house where all the kids are eating chicken fingers and french fries, my kids have chicken fingers and french fries if they want. Although, I think my older daughter often prefers the grownup food. At home, we only drink water. If we are with other kids, they can drink what everyone else is drinking if they want. We don’t deny them these things when they see other kids eating them. When we are with other kids, these are their decisions to make. Although, I am happy to say, I see my older daughter more and more choosing to stick with the healthier option.

I once worked with someone who ate a LOT of pop tarts. She said it was because her parents wouldn’t allow her to have them when she was a kid and she always saw her friends eating them. Now that it was up to her, she ate them all the time. I don’t want that. So I don’t deny them anything in moderation and educate them to make healthier decisions on their own.

Again, maybe we just got really lucky, but of course, I like to think that our parenting strategies had at least a little to do with our kids’ good eating habits.


Bathing Suit Bellies

It’s that time of year when we start to think about pulling out the summer clothes and eventually, the bathing suits. Should we actually be thinking about this year-round? Yes. But that doesn’t mean we do always think about it while we have sweaters covering up our bellies all winter. But unless you plan on hanging out on the beach in a sweater, you’re probably thinking about it now. Here are a few really simple things I have learned to think about when trying to keep the belly in bathing suit shape.

  1. Eat Fiber. Fiber helps burn belly fat. But that doesn’t mean you should go scarf down a few pieces of bread. There are better ways to get fiber. Apples, beans, and broccoli are examples.
  2. Cut back on salt. It’s true that salt will make you retain fluid, which leads to extra water weight and a bloated appearance. Be aware of all the places you may be taking in a lot of extra salt besides the stuff you use when you cook. For example, go with unsalted pretzels and nuts for snacks to reduce salt intake.
  3. Stand up straight. Good posture not only immediately makes you look thinner, it also strengthens muscles that will help you actually be thinner over time. You want to engage your core muscles in everything you do as much as possible. Whenever you’re sitting around your house, try to sit on an exercise ball if possible. It will make you sit up straight and engage your core to keep your balance.
  4. Drink lots of water. It helps flush out all the bad stuff.
  5. Eat your MUFAs. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) help fight belly fat by stopping the blood sugar spikes that cause your body to store fat around your belly. Some easy ways to get your MUFAs –avocados, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, almonds & walnuts, peanut butter, olives & olive oil, and … dark chocolate! But, remember, everything in moderation.

My Super Breakfast

Isn’t it a gorgeous looking breakfast?

When my husband decided to lose some weight last year, he went on a no carb diet. We won’t get into the debate about no carb diets since I think a balanced diet is better, so anyway… When he stopped eating carbs, he started making the same breakfast every morning of eggs, turkey bacon and vegetables. Vegetables for breakfast were a new concept for me except in an omelet, but his breakfast started looking pretty good. It always smelled good too. So I decided to give it a try, found out it was both delicious and filling, and I got hooked.

The photo above is the most common variation – spinach, chickpeas, and sundried tomatoes.  I also love chickpeas and diced tomatoes sprinkled with some Moroccan spice blend. There is also a sauté of black beans, corn, red peppers, and onions cooked in cider vinegar that I often make for dinner and also tastes great the next morning with eggs. Leftover asparagus from dinner is another great option. I also prefer soy sausage to turkey bacon because I get more protein with less fat and sodium.

It’s also not a bad deal calorie-wise with maybe 100 calories in the egg after cooking and 80 in the soy sausage, plus veggies. That’s a lot of protein and nutrients for under 300 calories.

Delicious, filling, nutritious. Super breakfast.

Better Bread

I was doing my weekly online grocery order last week on Peapod when I noticed Food For Life Ezekiel bread. I remembered talking to a nutritionist once who said that if you were going to eat bread, it should absolutely be Ezekiel bread. She said that you buy it frozen because it is made without preservatives. It is also flourless, made instead with sprouted grains so it has a lower glycemic index than other bread. It sounded intriguing since I have become more and more of a natural whole foods eater over the past couple years. But, I blew it off at the time because it sounded a little strange and also like a bit of a pain to deal with bread that would quickly spoil if not frozen.

When I noticed it online last week, I thought again about the nutritionist’s advice, especially since I have been moving more and more toward an entirely whole foods diet and adding many new things into my diet lately that I now love. I decided to give the bread a try.

Again, this bread is flourless. Instead, it is made with “sprouted grains” – whole wheat, malted barley, whole millet, whole barley, whole lentils, whole soybeans, and whole spelt. The only other ingredients are water, yeast, sea salt and organic wheat gluten. According to the Food For Life website, when these grains are combined “a complete protein is created that closely parallels the protein found in milk and eggs. In fact, the protein quality is so high, that it is 84.3% as efficient as the highest recognized source of protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids.” Pretty cool.

But how does it taste? Well..good! It is not as soft as white bread, of course. But it is not as coarse as some of the hearty wheat breads out there. In fact, I liked it much better than any wheat bread I have had. It is a thin-sliced bread though, so if you like thick bread (which I don’t), this might be too thin for you. It is actually perfect for me. I think the texture is just right. As for the taste, it simply tastes like a multi-grain bread. It’s quite good.

I also LOVE that it is completely preservative-free. That’s pretty awesome! One of the things that stopped me from trying it before was worrying about losing the convenience of sliced bread since this has to stay in the freezer to prevent spoiling. Well, the day I first bought it, I took a few slices out of the bag (the frozen slices actually break apart very easily) and put them in the fridge so they would be defrosted to make lunch the next morning. No problem at all. Easy. Well…the next night, I forgot to take some out. So there I am ready to make my daughter’s lunch in the morning, and I have frozen bread. Guess what? No problem. I put two frozen slices in the toaster on low and pushed the “warm” button on my toaster. In one minute, I had defrosted bread. I’m glad I discovered this so quickly because now I don’t even worry about defrosting it ahead of time.

And, my 8-year-old didn’t notice any change in the bread form the normal wheat or mutli-grain bread we used to use.

One popular breakfast in my house is wheat mini bagels with peanut butter. But once the bag of bagels we have is gone, I think we will switch to slices of toasted Ezekiel instead of bagels. I seriously love this bread – both the lack of flour and the lack of preservatives. They do also make English muffins, but I have not seen them in my store yet. And pasta too, which I’d be interested in trying if I can find it.

If you’re trying to add more natural whole foods to your diet, give it a try. I wish I did it a few years ago when I was first told about it instead of being scared of the frozen bread. How silly. It’s the non-frozen preservative-filled bread that can sit in my cabinet for a couple weeks that I should have been scared of.

Just ask.

Steve Jobs talks about failing because you simply don’t…ask.