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.

Potato the hero

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What do you do when you have leftover chili, but not enough to feed everyone??

Stick it on some baked potatoes,  with shredded cheese, serve with sour cream and you have a hit!

These went fast and ferociously!  Definitely a do over is in our future.

What do you do with Chard?

We get one of those awesome organic fruit and veggie boxes each week, and there are occasionally a few items that we struggle with.  But is chard not the most challenging healthy food to include in your family’s diet?

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With all the benefits packed into this green powerhouse, I was getting desparate to find a way to get the kids, and hubby to eat it and hold it in their body longer than it takes to “chew and spit”.

I have tried a few different options, such as: stir fries  – FAIL!  with eggs – FAIL!  with salad – FAIL!  In chili – my normally chili-crazed family could not spit it out fast enough!

I came across a swiss chard stew that was rated poorly online.  With a few tweaks, I thought it might actually be a hit with my kids.  And it was!  Especially Isabelle… but that girl loves to eat any healthy food.

1 bunch of swiss chard, chopped (only the green part)
1 cup baby carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
A bag of baby red potatoes, or equivalent, chopped  (around 12)
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil (leaves torn or chopped)
5 cups broth (I used chicken once and beef once, the chicken was better)
1/2 t black pepper
1 t kosher salt

Everyone loved the stew.  The exception was my son.  He loved it the first time I made it, and didn’t like it the second time around, (I am guessing it’s because I ran out of garlic the second time).

Otherwise it was a hit!

Confidence = Injuries

Let this be a warning, mainly to myself.. but when things start to feel calm, a storm is brewing!

Two days ago, I distinctly remember putting away the last of the clean, folded and ironed clothes.  My kids were quietly playing with puzzles, and dolls.  They were well dressed and had eaten a healthy dinner.  The dishes were done.  Homework was taken care of.  The floors clean and toys picked up.

Man I was feeling that if prizes were handed out for moms who had it all together, this is the day I’d win.

Then came yesterday.  I got up early to make everyone scrambled eggs, and Isabelle woke up as I snuck past her door, so she became my volunteer helper.  I put her up on a chair, and cooked the eggs on the furthest burner.  Of course, she somehow reached the pan with a finger and burned herself!  It was a very small and mild burn, but I felt so bad for her.

Later in the day, when all was bandaged up and kissed.  The girls were playing on the couch and of course Elise falls off it and hits her head.  Really Really hard.  As she was walking towards me she was doing a drunk sailor walk.  She keeled right over, hit a drawer and our hard wood floor, with you guessed it, her head.

As I went to pick her up, her eyes wouldn’t focus and she was limp like a rag doll.  I hope she’ll forgive me for mentioning it, but she then wet herself and me.  Seeing her like this really scared me.  She clearly had at least a concussion.  So I started thinking about what I needed to grab to go to the hospital.  As I started getting ready to take everyone to the hospital, Elise started to come around.  Once she was changed into dry clothes she was 100% fine.  I forced her to do every neurological test that seemed age appropriate, and she was fine.  No blood or bumps or bruises.  I woke her up every couple hours to walk her around and slept right next to her.  She was fine, but wow, that scared me!

The next morning, I decided to give Belle a quick bath in the kitchen sink.  As a side note: I may only have a couple more weeks that I can get away with this, she is getting so big!  Within a minute or two of her splashing in the water, she stood up quickly.  She slipped and smashed the top of her nose on the very sharp corner of the steel divider between our two sinks.  Acccch!  This time, there was a good deal of blood and swelling!  After cleaning her up and giving her hundreds of kisses, she seemed fine.  And today, her nose looks just a bit swollen and the cut looks much better.

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It has been a painful couple of days.  But I am hoping that this big injection of humility will decrease the ouches around here.

 

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.