Top 5 unprocessed kid’s snack ideas

20151124_063714 (excuse the bed head, but yummy parfait, eh? )

1. Plain Yogurt parfaits, plain yogurt, frozen fruit (blueberries and raspberries are our favs), if you have homemade granola add it, if not whatever nuts or seeds you have, and a smiley face of honey on the top… a dash of vanilla if you’re fancy.

2. Veggie sticks, (carrots, celery, cucumber, grape tomatoes) with either hummus, or chickpeas (toddlers love them straight out of the organic, bpa-free can).  Or, for an even easier treat, try frozen corn (please please please make sure it’s organic) … little kids LOVE it!

3. Homemade popsicles!  We normally make green smoothies once a week, and I try to double what we drink, and freeze the rest as popsicles.

4. Banana bread, I do my best to do at least 2 breads at a time, quadrupling the recipe is best.  Slice it when cool, and freeze in a freezer bag.

5. This granola bar recipe is another family favourite.  I also make at least a double batch of these gems.  I let them cool, slice them, and freeze them on the cookie sheet.  Once the bars are solidly frozen, I toss them into freezer bags, and have easy, healthy, fantastic treats.

With all the time you just saved making snacks, enjoy a fun show.  My new favourite is UnReal, a lifetime network show, now available on Shomi.

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Daycare makes kids FAT!

On a regular morning, at 6:50am, I am in the kitchen feeding the little monsters breakfast before our oldest heads off to school.  It feels very busy just getting one child off to school. My hats off to moms rushing a bunch of kids to school and daycare!

I watch a lot of these moms, from the bus stop, strap their little charges into the minivan to drop them off to wonderful and enriching programs.

Honestly, I often feel a bit jealous of the regularly scheduled programming, the detailed menu plans and the highly organised little classrooms.  What mom would not love the toddler height sinks??  There are days when getting one load of laundry feels like it’s something to brag about, much less providing a stimulating environment for my children to learn letters, numbers and music.  My jealousy has on occasion led me to cyber stalk various preschool and daycare programs that are offered in Oakville, that my kids will never attend.

However, researchers in Montreal (University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center, published in the Journal of Pediatrics ) have found that kids attending daycare centres between the ages of 1.5 and 4 years old, had a 65% higher chance of being overweight between the ages of 4 and 10.  The same results were not found in children cared for in different settings.

The study recommended that further research should be done to find out why daycare centers increased the chance of making our kids chubby.

I propose that both daycare centers and schools are setting up our children with unhealthy habits relating to food consumption.  The two main concerns I have are frequency of eating and food that is mostly catered.

In daycare, as far as I have been informed, food is given out frequently.  Often, there are 2 morning snacks, lunch and 1 or 2 snacks in the afternoon, depending on pick up time.  Food is served promptly and eating time is generally short.  I have noticed also from my son’s school, that lunch times are very short, and there are many snack times offered throughout the day.

I believe that quick and frequent “feeding times”, are teaching our kids that eating can take place any time of day.  Our kids will end up doing more snacking and less enjoying healthy meals.

In our home, we take a French approach to feeding our family.  We have breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack and dinner.  Each meal lasting between 20 minutes to an hour.  If the kids are hungry in between, I do not offer granola bars, or snack cakes, or crackers.  For my littlest (almost 18 months), if she is screaming I will first offer water, I may offer a quarter of an apple if she is really losing it at 9:30am, but this would happen less than once a month.  I make a point to teach our kids that “you should eat enough of the healthy meal we made for you, because you will not be getting another snack in an hour.”  Maybe this seems cruel…

However, we have seen the fruits of our labor.  My oldest was a picky eater when he was 2.  He spent a few days with his aunt and uncle, while our second baby was born.  As the story goes, he refused to eat anything except bagels.  Not toast.  Not a bun.  Not an english muffin.  Just bagels.  I believe they made a few trips to the store over the weekend.

In the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine,  it was found that preschoolers who were unable to wait for more than a few minutes for candy or a treat were significantly at higher risk to be fat by the time they were pre-teens.  In daycare centers, generally food is prepared and brought in by a catering company.  Catering means that food is served almost instantly.  Whereas in a home setting, children hear, smell and see the food being prepared.  As a side note, this is helpful because it prepares the gut for proper digestion.  In terms of helping with self control though, this is a lesson in waiting, that naturally occurs many times a day.  Children see the food being prepped in the kitchen, and they are probably getting hungry!  Mom or Grandma tell the kids day after day, to wait until it’s ready.  This becomes an ingrained pattern of eating.  You need to wait, food is not instant.  This is true even in the worst case, if you’re reheating processed food.

I don’t believe that daycare centers are doing anything wrong.  In fact, they are a great place for kids to go while mom and dad work.  However, there is an inherent vacuum when it comes to teaching food consumption habits that would happen organically in a family situation.

Daycare centers and schools could vastly improve by lengthening mealtimes, and decreasing snack times (or eliminating them altogether in children older than 6).  It would also be beneficial learning to cook on a regular basis and teaching children to appreciate meals, instead of snacks, was part of the curriculum.  I believe with these two changes we could see an improvement in long term obesity rates.

 

If you give my mouse his cookie…

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He will ask for Books! Books! Books! We love books! ….and cookies. And if you can combine them, around here, that’s a winner.  We’ve been reading If you give a mouse a cookie, and my little guy just loves it.  He now references the book in his every day play, “if you give me a peanut butter sandwich, I might ask for some jam… and if you give me some jam.  I might ask for some chocolate”.  (because in his mind, everything leads to chocolate).  If you aren’t familiar with the book, a mouse asks for milk, which leads to asking for a cookie, which leads to a mirror, which leads to a haircut, and on and on.

I know I’ve already mentioned our love for Sonlight’s preschool program. But I must say it one more time. How many programs include baking and eating cookies as part of the curriculum??  Cookies are not the only benefit we’ve been seeing.  Even though Caleb can’t read yet, you’ll often find him snuggling in a corner with a book and his little sister has been copying him.  She carries around books she likes, and will ask us to read at every opportunity.

Elise has also recently decided she doesn’t want to miss out on story time, and instead of wandering off to play with other toys, she’ll get up on the couch to hear the stories.  We’ve started reading her some of the simpler stories from the beginning of Caleb’s curriculum, like Goodnight moon, which she almost knows by heart.