Snack Attack!

Do you like eating new foods?

Personally,¬†the weirder, the better. Some people are not like me, however, and would much rather stick to what they know. Articles about Angelina Jolie feeding dried crickets to her kids make them reach for the nearest garbage can. I remember I once got my little sister to try calamari (fried squid) at Pappadeaux by telling her it was chicken. She didn’t speak to me for two days.

Now, personally, my sister’s silence was anything but unwelcome. However, her disgust demonstrates an important point. Many kids (toddlers and college-age alike) don’t want to try anything weird or different. So how do you get kids like this to embrace new foods, particularly fruits and veggies, if they haven’t really been exposed to them in their diets before?

One method is to make it fun. ūüôā

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Yes, those are dinosaur-shaped sandwich cutters. Yes, I am 21. What is your point?

Not every family has access to cool sandwich cutters and organic granola and food processors. Not everyone is a gourmet chef, or really even that creative.¬†That’s okay, I’m right there with you. You can still inspire and involve your kids and get them to nom on the healthy stuff. All you need is a little inspiration yourself. This could come from Pinterest or even a Google search for “healthy snacks for kids.”

I’ll give ya a head start. Check it out!

Snacks 1

Bear-y nice to see you toast with honey or fruit/nut¬†butter! Animal cracker feeding troughs! Apple sandwiches- crunchy, yet satisfying! Taste the rainbow fruit kebabs and honey nut cheerio sheep! Get creative with cookie cutters, toothpicks, skewers, and knives to make shapes and sculptures! Or come up with a cute snack name. Who could resist a “Pretzel Snack Stack”?

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

Snacks 2

Use peanut/apple/any type of fruit or nut butter to do a little late-night fishing. Color your spaghetti, or enjoy a “day at the beach” with your kids. Play games using stoplight graham crackers spread with cream cheese. Use vegetable pieces to make a picture; it doesn’t have to be the next¬†Mona Lisa, it just has to be fun. Even something as simple as writing messages on bananas might be all the encouragement your kids need to pick a healthy snack.

Playing games with your food is a big ol’ taboo. Why is that?¬†If playing “basketball” with whole-grain, low fat popcorn using my 13-year-old’s mouth as the basket gets them to increase their fiber intake (without choking), I’m all for it. If your child has a pretty FIRM GRASP on¬†penmanship (Oh, the puns!), play a game of tic-tac-toe with grapes and strawberry slices using pretzel sticks or veggie strips to make the board. Play pretend with your animal crackers or other animal-themed snacks. Introduce them to broccoli florets by pretending they’re flowers,¬†“smelling” their sweet fragrance and offering bunches to each other in grand romantic gestures.

Or even, oh,¬†I dunno…….make dinosaur sounds while you eat your sandwiches……..and introduce whole wheat bread or a new sandwich veggie at the same time.

Even if you’re not the most creative parent, it’s okay. The act of taking the time to make a fun snack for your child at home or for school shows them that you care. I’d be pretty happy to read an encouraging note on a banana from my mom, and would definitely be more receptive to actually consuming said banana.

The simple act of sitting down with your child¬†while they eat their snack and¬†talking to them is great, too. Heck, snack time can be as simple as having them help you throw together some trail mix and put it into bags for the week (my favorite is pretzels, dark chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and walnuts, banana chips optional). Experience shows that¬†when kids help pick or make their food,¬†they are more likely to eat it. They’re excited to try something they helped create–who wouldn’t be?

Make food fun, and do what works for you. I use dinosaur sandwich cutters. The back of the fridge and bottom of the pantry are your only limits, and the benefits aren’t just for kids. Odds are that, while making food fun for your kids, you might find it makes food fun for you, too.

References:

My Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/doghouse33/themed-eatables/

Snails!: http://nestleusa.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/simple-is-best-after-school-snack-ideas/

Ideas!

General snack ideas: http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/feeding/healthy-eating/the-20-best-snacks-for-kids/

This sweet Kids Eat for Fun Pinterest idea board: http://www.pinterest.com/thesugaraunts/food-for-kids/

Picky Eaters: http://www.playingwithwords365.com/2012/08/getting-your-picky-eater-to-explore-new-foods/

A Breakfast How-To

I’m afraid my first post is also a bit of a confession: I got a late start on this new blog due to some rather trivial activities that kept clamoring for my attention (moving back home from Ethiopia, unpacking, repacking for college, unpacking into my dorm, arranging my school and work schedules to make time to sleep, let’s not forget actually attending and studying for my classes; absolute frivolity, all of it) and, as such, completely missed blogging during the first EVER Kids Eat Right month this August!

The shame is almost unbearable. Nevertheless, I stand (er, sit) before you now, having said my Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s, resolute and determined to rectify this atrocious misstep.

Therefore, ¬†this month’s posts will be a belated celebration of this new national initiative!

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Kids Eat Right¬†is a national awareness campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) to promote healthy eating for kids and families throughout America. The website contains a bunch of nifty resources for families striving to improve nutrition at the table and on the go. These include recipes,¬†nutrition recommendations, and tips on how to vary your food choices on a budget¬†for kids of all ages, from babies¬†to teens. Today, we’re focusing on what happens to be the most¬†important part of any good day: breakfast.

We all know that¬†breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The Academy’s The State of Family Nutrition and Physical Activity Report: Are We Making Progress?¬†report showed that kids who skipped the morning meal¬†had more problem-solving difficulties than their breskfast-ed counterparts and scored noticeably lower on tests. Other studies have shown that kids (and adults) who consume breakfast have a healthier BMI (body mass index, or weight proportional to height).

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However, many people do not like eating breakfast; they’re not hungry in the morning, they don’t have time to make food in the rush to get to school/work on time, or they just don’t know what to serve for a healthy breakfast. Everyone can relate to the stresses of going back to school (see the first paragraph of this blog for my personal example). It can be particularly challenging to make¬†enough time to eat well in the midst of all the new happenings, especially when “five more minutes” becomes one’s morning mantra. It can be done, however!¬†All it takes is a little preparation and enthusiasm.

Tips and Tricks to Maintain Your “Five More Minutes” Mantra

  • Cut down on late night snacks to increase your child’s appetite in the morning. Consider a food curfew.
  • Start small if breakfast is not a popular meal in your house. Making habits can take time, so start with a plate of toast or a small bowl of yogurt.
  • Prep before bed.¬†Setting the breakfast table the night before saves minutes in the morning and reminds you and the kids to grab a bite before you hit the road.
  • Prepare foods the night before or over the weekend. Foods like muffin-sized¬†quiches, yogurt n’ berries with granola, and fruit or nut-filled muffins can be made the night before or even over a weekend. That way you also have a week’s supply ready for even the craziest morning.
  • Stock up¬†on grab-n-go foods like bananas, apples, oranges, string cheese, fruit and nut bars, bagels, toast, and small containers of milk and 100% juice.
  • Make grab-n-go baggies for a speedy morning send-off. Good items include whole-wheat crackers, carrot sticks or other small veggies, dried fruits and cereal, nuts, and small fruits or fruit slices like grapes or strawberries.
  • Even if your child¬†isn’t hungry in the morning, put a small breakfast food in their backpack or hand it off as they board the bus.¬†Sometimes it takes a bit longer for the morning appetite to set in, and this way, they have a healthy morning snack to hold them over until lunch!
  • Breakfasts don’t have to be “breakfast-y.”¬†You can start your morning right with¬†leftover quesadillas, cheese and crackers, or rice and veggies. The important thing is that nutrition is getting into your kids’ stomachs.
  • Involve your child in choosing what foods will be served at breakfast.You can even let them help you prepare foods for breakfast. Involvement leads to investment and excitement about the breakfast they helped make.
  • Eat breakfast yourself! There is no better role model for your child’s health habits than you. You’ll both enjoy the benefits!

The most important part of a healthy breakfast is protein. Eating enough protein in the morning helps stave off mid-morning munchies that can be distracting for children and ultimately disruptive in the classroom. Try to include low-fat cheese, dairy, a slice or two of Canadian bacon, eggs, or even peanut butter on toast. As always, whole grains, fruits, and veggies in your morning meal gets you extra nutrition points!¬†Already out of breakfast ideas? Google can be your best friend in times where the creative juices just aren’t flowing.

You can’t go wrong with breakfast! Try some of these ideas or Google some of your own! Below are a few links I found helpful writing this post as well as some good breakfast resources to check out. Try a few, or if you have some other great ideas, leave a comment below: what are YOUR best breakfast picks?

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Kids Eat Right home page: http://www.eatright.org/kids/

Look for some yummy breakfast ideas here:

References:

 

 

Would you eat purple carrots?

Would you eat purple carrots (pictured above)?

Yes, those carrots up above are real, and no, they are not GMO. I took that photograph at an open market in Freiburg, Germany this summer while working in a small B&B in the Black Forrest. I had never seen purple carrots before, but back in the day, everyone would have been shocked to see an orange carrot. Why? Because carrots were originally purple until the Dutch decided to breed an orange version. Hence, the hue of the common carrot matches the Dutch football jerseys.

Food, nutrition, and the science thereof has so much more to offer than multi-colored¬†carrots. Thus,¬†I decided to stake my claim to this little corner of the Internet and share my knowledge about food and nutrition things I find cool, relevant, and (of course) delicious. One certainly doesn’t have to be a scientist to understand and enjoy the benefits and yummy goodness of different foods, and my goal is to explore food and nutrition in an accessible and interesting way. Which¬†is why you should continue reading.

Yup, keep going!

This blog will feature different nutrition topics every month, from vegetarian nutrition to Kids Eat Right to eating healthfully on a budget, with weekly posts for each topic. Additionally, check back for weekly food spotlights to learn more interesting facts about specific foods!

Sound good? Great! I’ll see you here next week, same place, same time!

In case you’re curious, here’s a little about me:

My blogging career began during my two month stay¬†Ethiopia this summer conducting¬†undergraduate research for my honors thesis: “Sociocultural factors affecting sun seeking behavior for infants in Hawassa town and Hawassa Zuria Woreda: A qualitative study.” I know, I know, it’s a sexy title and you all want a copy for yourself and your mother, but I still have a little more analysis to do on the data, so you’ll have to wait¬†just a little longer.

In any case, my summer blog detailed my adventures in the land with thirteen months of sunshine, which you can read at here (or at followthesunethiopia.wordpress.com). I really enjoyed sharing stories and pictures with my friends and family back home through this medium and am just as excited to share my knowledge of nutrition here with you all!

I oftentimes tell my peers I picked the best major on earth because I really don’t see how it could get much better than majoring in food. ¬†The official title of my degree is “Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences, Dietetics,” and after graduating this May, I am off to the East Coast to begin my MS and professional internship. All this is necessary to become a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist. All that to say that I’m not just a random person off the street writing about nutrition info I found on the Google machine. That being said, keep in mind that I am still a student, so if I post something you have a question or comment about, say something! I’d like this blog to be a learning process for us both, so I’m more than happy to practice my clarification skills regarding¬†anything I post. All you have to do is ask!

Nutrition Tips for Fun, Healthy Living!