Tag Archives: eat

Transform Your Picky Eater!

Few things cause more parental frustration than trying to get a picky eater to enjoy a well-rounded diet. Whether your child has been picky all his life, or, out of nowhere is now turning up his nose at healthy foods he previously adored, it’s easy to feel like your failing as a caregiver.

“I think we need to remember that it is developmentally appropriate for children to not only move in and out of enjoying certain foods, but also to test limits and boundaries with their parents around refusing to eat what we give them,” says Dr. Aimee Gould Shunney, a licensed naturopathic doctor specializing in women’s health and family medicine.

20941719_originalA parent herself, when Shunney’s son goes through phases when he eats only certain things, she tries to remain consistent and optimistic.

“I believe it’s part of my job as a mama to keep a positive tone in my voice as I offer variety, explain the importance of protein for muscles and smarts, and sing the praises of eating a rainbow – even after a full day’s work while going up against a tired first-grader who only wants dessert,” she says. “I think the biggest mistake we make is when we just give up and give in because, well, it can be exhausting.”

To help parents win the food fights and bring peace to the dinner table, Shunney offers five simple ideas for transforming a child with finicky tendencies into an amazing eater with optimal nutrition.

1. Cook more.   Cook for your children and make their dishes simple without lots of sauces and spices. If possible, let them help you cook so they can be part of the fun. Cooking whole unprocessed foods will ensure your family is getting the biggest nutrition bang for your buck. There will be less sodium, sugar, additive and preservatives as well.

2. Eat more veggies.   Present them with choices: Would you like carrots or red peppers? Pickles or olives? Try starting dinner with a raw veggie plate and let your kids select what they want. It’s a healthy appetizer that makes eating whole foods a regular part of the meal routine.
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3. Pick your protein.   Find three protein meals your kids like and use them often for dinner and lunches. Peanut butter and jelly should not be an everyday option. Other ideas: Alaskan salmon burgers, organic chicken strips and eating breakfast for dinner that includes a protein like eggs. Choose animal products that are pastured and fed organic feed. If you eat beef, choose grass-fed – this will provide better fats for your children’s development, immune system and cognitive function, as well as help you avoid exposure to chemicals and antibiotics.

4. Supplements.  Supplements are really important for kids – even ones who eat well. A good multivitamin can help bridge the gap for a picky eater. Add in an omega-3 EPA and DHA supplement which has numerous well-researched benefits in areas like childhood immunity, behavior and attention, cognitive function and emotional well-being. Try a vitamin D supplement – 400 I.U. for breast-fed infants, 500 I.U. from 1-3 years old, 800 I.U. from 4-8 years old, and 1300 I.U. from 9-18 years old.

5. Show them. Teach them good eating habits by modeling good eating habits. Share your favorite foods. Sit down at the table and eat. Love your veggies. Relish your protein. Don’t overdo it on starch. Take it easy on dessert. Drink water. Enjoy your food.

“We often take health and nutrition way too seriously and it stops being any fun. I believe that eating food is one of the supreme joys of life, particularly when it’s eaten with people you love!” says Shunney. “Planning meals, preparing food, eating it together while talking and laughing – even the clean up – can all be fun if we make that our intention. The more fun it is, the more our kids will want to participate, and the more they do that, the more engaged they will be around food and family.”

Maximize snack mixes

Everyone wants to enjoy foods they can feel good about eating, and snacks are no different. While carrot sticks and crackers with cheese are great go-to options, it’s important to mix things up. Snacking should be tasty and combine an interesting medley of flavors, as well as include whole grains and vitamin-rich ingredients, resulting in a savory, nutritious nibble.

When deciding between your favorite snacks, there’s no need to sacrifice flavors and seasonings often reserved for main course dishes. Instead, look to combine different food groups to create unique, delicious snack mixes. A mix can not only pack a lot of flavor but also can be full of nutrient-rich vitamins and whole grains.

The perfect snack mix combines flavors, textures, seasonings and tastes.

* Whole grain crackers add heartiness to your snack leaving you deliciously satisfied.

* Adding vegetables such as leafy greens adds vitamins and minerals – a perfect low-calorie addition.

* For extra crunch, popcorn or nuts are flavorful ingredients to add to your mix for a wholesome, appetizing snack.

Chef Rocco DiSpirito, known for his best-selling healthy comfort foods series Now Eat This!, created Brown Rice Triscuit Sea Salt & Black Pepper Crumbled Snack Mix, a tasty mix of popcorn, kale and the new Brown Rice Triscuit, which is baked with 100 percent whole grain brown rice. This snack mix is one great way to reap the benefits of whole grains in a distinctive new way.

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Brown Rice Triscuit Sea Salt & Black Pepper Crumbled Snack Mix (Yield: 9 servings, about 1 cup each, Prep time: about 10 minutes, Processing time: about 10 minutes)

Ingredients:

Olive oil cooking spray

3 tablespoons popping corn kernels

1/8 teaspoon each salt and crushed red pepper flakes

1 bunch of Tuscan kale (about 15 leaves), or 4 loosely packed cups of leaves only (remove tough center stem with knife or kitchen shears)

20 Brown Rice Triscuit Sea Salt & Black Pepper Crackers, quartered

1. Spray a medium-sized saucepot with 1 second of cooking spray; add the popcorn kernels and place over medium high heat. Cook, covered, shaking occasionally until the kernels have popped, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat; place popcorn in large bowl and season with salt and crushed red pepper flakes.

2. Lay the kale out in batches in single layer on microwave-safe plates. Spray each plate with 1 second of cooking spray and microwave on high for 1 minute. Flip the leaves, then microwave on high until the leaves are dried and crisp, about 1 minute. Continue microwaving, if needed, turning every minute until crisp. Repeat with remaining kale.

3. Break the kale crisps into bite-size pieces. Toss with the crackers and popcorn and serve.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 80 calories, 2g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 90mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 0g sugars, 2g protein

Weeknight Meals Made Easy

What’s for dinner? It’s a question most of us ask every day. With evening routines packed full of extracurricular activities, chores and preparation for the following day, we don’t always have as much time as we’d like to make dinner. Fortunately, a quick, delicious and healthy meal can still be an option for your family, even when you’re short on time. All it takes is a little planning, some common ingredients and one trip to the grocery store. Here are five dinners to take you through an entire work week:

Monday

Start the week by putting your slow cooker to work for you. Slice off the tops of four to six bell peppers, but don’t throw them out. Remove the seeds and stuff each pepper with a combination of lean ground turkey or chicken sausage, grated cauliflower, carrots, onion and garlic, plus fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Put the pepper tops back on, arrange the peppers securely in a slow cooker, pour a large can of low-sodium chopped tomatoes over them and cook on low for eight hours. Dinner will be ready when you walk in the door.

Tuesday

Soup can be a quick way to have dinner on the table in minutes – and it allows you to use up vegetables that may be near the end of their shelf life. Try a Broccoli Cheese Soup (recipe follows), a classic favorite that the whole family will enjoy. There’s minimal pre-cooking required – simply steam the broccoli, measure the remaining ingredients, put them in your blender. Blend until smooth, pour into bowls and garnish with extra steamed broccoli florets and bit of grated cheese. For a heartier meal, chop and add grilled chicken chunks. Serve with crusty bread and a salad for a complete dinner.

Wednesday

Whole-wheat pasta with basil walnut pesto is a crowd pleaser. Take fresh basil, Parmesan cheese and walnuts and puree with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice in your blender for a quick and easy sauce. If there are stuffed pepper leftovers, chop and heat for a tasty pasta topping. Make a large batch of pesto and you can use the leftover portion later in the week.

Thursday

Throw together a chicken stir-fry for another quick weeknight meal. Chop up your favorite vegetables, including extra cauliflower, onions and carrots from Monday’s stuffed peppers and broccoli from Tuesday’s soup. Saute the vegetables with cooked, cubed chicken and a mix of soy and teriyaki sauces. Serve over rice and offer a spicy chili sauce for those who like it hot.

Friday

You’ve made it through the week. Why not treat your family to pizza? Top a ready-made, whole-wheat pizza crust with your leftover pesto sauce, cheese and any toppings you’d like. Add peppers, mushrooms and vegetables you chopped for the soup and stir-fry to create a veggie delight. Follow the cooking instructions on the pizza crust package, and you’ll be ready to kick off your weekend in no time.

With a bit of planning, you can shop once and have your dinners set for the week. Buy canned or frozen fruits and vegetables in bulk and try to prepare at least two meals using the same ingredients. Even with hectic schedules, families can prepare and sit down to a satisfying meal every night of the week.

 

Broccoli Cheese Soup  (Yields two cups)

1 cup (240 ml) milk, skim or low fat
1/3 cup (40 g) shredded, low fat cheddar cheese
1 cup (100 g) chopped fresh or frozen broccoli or cauliflower florets, steamed
1 teaspoon diced onion
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon chicken or vegetable bouillon or soup base

Place all ingredients into a blender in the order listed and secure lid. Blend until smooth.