5 Healthy Foods Your Kids Will Actually Eat

5 Healthy Foods Your Kids Will Actually Eat

When it comes to feeding your kid healthy food, you pull out all the stops. You beg, negotiate, and try to be sneaky. You make food into funny faces, add cheese to everything and cook the same old meal a different way. But no matter how much you try, your kids won’t even take a bite.

Getting your kids to eat healthy foods can be a challenge but if you’re consistent and do your best to provide healthy meals and snacks, one day your kids might surprise you not only by eating a new food, but loving it.

Here are 5 healthy foods my kids eat and I bet your kids will too.

1. Chia seeds
My kids love chia seeds especially when I make chia seed pudding. Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Two tablespoons has 4 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, as well as omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your kid’s heart, brain, eyes and skin. Add chia seeds to cereal, oatmeal, muffins, yogurt or blend them up in a smoothie.

2. Avocado
Rich in healthy, monounsaturated fats, avocados are beneficial for your kid’s brain health and skin. They’re also so delicious and versatile: add avocado to salad, as a substitute for mayonnaise or make guacamole as a snack.

3. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and a great source of fiber and potassium. Cut up and roast sweet potatoes, slice and bake them for a healthy alternative to French fries, or grate them for a breakfast hash.

4. Beans
I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way I can get my kids to eat beans!
But hear me out: kids love little pieces of food. They like to snack and they like finger foods.

Try packing a teaspoon of beans in their lunch bags, serve them for breakfast or offer them on taco night instead of meat. There are so many types of beans, I bet your kids will find a type they’ll love.

5. Jicama
Jicama, (pronounced HEE-kah-ma) is a root vegetable that tastes crunchy, starchy and a bit sweet all at the same time. Jicama is a great source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber to keep your kids feeling full. Cut up jicama and pair with hummus or roast them with a sprinkle of salt for a tasty, healthy snack.

How to Get Your Kids To Drink More Water

How to Get Your Kids To Drink More Water

I’m constantly drinking water throughout the day. It keeps up my energy levels, prevents me from overeating and helps me to take bathroom breaks so I’m not sitting behind my desk for too long.

When it comes to my kids drinking enough water, however, it often takes a lot of persuasion. They tell me, “I’m not thirsty,” even after having a meal. Or they’ll take a quick sip of water to appease me so they can go back to playing with their dolls.

Getting your kids to drink more water and stay hydrated is more important than you may realize.

When your kids are mildly dehydrated it can make them feel tired, lack focus and make them struggle with easy tasks, which could explain those non-stop meltdown.

Studies show brain tissue can even temporarily shrink without enough water in the body. And even if your kids eat healthy, they could become constipated.

To get your kids to drink more water, here are 5 things I’ve discovered can help.

Buy a new cup
I usually buy my kids glass or stainless steel water bottles because they don’t have chemicals and last a long time. But kids love anything new so when they both of them received a plastic sports bottle at a birthday party recently, they became obsessed. They brought that cheap black and orange bottle everywhere they went and drank up like they were in the Saraha desert.

Use a straw
I don’t know what it is about straws, but kids just love them. Go to Target, pick up a package of colorful straws and watch in amazement by how much water your kid can down.

Add flavor
Forget adding juice or an artificial sweetener to their water—both have too much sugar. Instead, put a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber or a few strawberries in their bottle and it may help your kid drink more water.

Use fruit cubes
Instead of regular ice cubes, try freezing fruit with some water in ice cube trays and add it your kid’s cup.

Tucker them out
My daughters and I often go to the high school track on the weekends and run a few laps together. It’s a great way for them to get exercise, burn off some energy and work up a sweat. Whether it’s the park, an indoor play space or your backyard, get your kids moving and thirsty for some water.

What are some ways you get your kids to drink more?

Should you ask your child’s pediatrician for nutritional advice?

Should you ask your child’s pediatrician for nutritional advice?

“Mommy, will I get a pretzel?,” my youngest child asked as we drove to the pediatrician’s office for her well visit.

Yep, that’s right. Pretzels. At the pediatrician’s office. Lots of sodium, no nutritional value whatsoever. And after a well visit from someone whose main goal is to keep my kids healthy.

I suppose I should be happy it’s not a lollipop.

The first time the pediatrician gave a pretzel to my older child at one of her well visits, I was surprised. It’s not the worst food a kid can eat but it’s definitely not the most nutritious.

Kids are already eating way too many processed, sodium-filled foods. In fact, a study in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that almost 90 percent of children consume more than the upper level of sodium recommended for their age group.

Perhaps what’s even more strange is that the doctor handed her a pretzel after he charted her height and weight, her growth trends and body mass index (BMI), measured her blood pressure, asked about her diet and talked about making sure she was getting enough calcium, iron-rich foods and she avoided juice.

I also wondered why the doctor was giving my kid food in the first place? I doubt it’s for good behavior since so many kids scream bloody murder when they get their shots. To be fair, they also hand out stickers so I suppose they want the children to remember their experience as a positive one.

Don’t get me wrong. My kids eat pretzels but it’s usually at a party or as an occasional treat on the weekends. Packaged food doesn’t make its way into my home or my kids’ mouths very often.

I don’t believe in labeling foods “good” or “bad” for my kids, only healthy or unhealthy. I also don’t want to make any food off limits because this could create an unhealthy relationship with food as they get older. So they are allowed to get a pretzel at the doctor’s. But when it comes to their pediatrician, I take their advice with a grain of salt.

24 Hours Of Nutrition Education

When it comes to your children’s health, your pediatrician should always be your first source of information and advice. They know your children best and can help you find specialists and support from other providers should you need them.

Out of all the types of doctors, I think pediatricians are unique. Most choose the profession because they love kids and want them to have a healthy future. Unlike other types of doctors, they also work with the patient and the entire family to make sure children have the best start in life.

When my daughters were babies, we had one of the best pediatricians around. He would spend well over an hour at each visit to make sure we understood everything and that he addressed our concerns. I never felt rushed and I always thought that he gave me the information and empowered my husband and I to make the best choices for our children. I will forever be grateful to him for his support and care.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that pediatricians play a crucial role when it comes to preventing childhood obesity, and they should be a resource for the community and be a part of the solution, particularly because they typically follow children for years.

According to this report, they state, “Even when families have sufficient knowledge of healthy behaviors, they may need help from pediatricians to develop the motivation to change, to provide encouragement through setbacks, and to identify and support appropriate community resources that will help them successfully implement behavior changes.”

When it comes to nutrition, however, most pediatricians aren’t the best people to get information and advice from.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that physicians receive an average of 23.9 hours of nutrition instruction while in medical school. That’s not even a day devoted to learning about the one thing that can make or break your child’s health.

What’s more, 71 percent of medical schools in the U.S. don’t provide 25 hours of nutrition education—the minimum amount that’s recommended, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Biomedical Education, found.

Another study found that fourth year medical and osteopathic school graduates who were entering a pediatric residency program could correctly answer only 52 percent of the questions about nutrition.

Surprisingly, pediatric gastroenterology is the only pediatric subspecialty that requires nutrition to be part of its official curriculum and objective. Although most of these doctors say they have an average or above average knowledge of nutrition, 67 percent want to learn more about childhood obesity, a study in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

No Time For Nutrition

Your pediatrician will probably ask a few questions about your child’s diet but between the time it takes to chart his growth curves, ask all of the questions required for insurance, review all of the developmental screenings, and perform the physical exam, there’s not much time left to take a deep dive into what your children eat, how much and if they have healthy eating habits.

In fact, nearly 50 percent of parents say their pediatricians spend only between 11 and 20 minutes for well visits and approximately one-third say they spend less than 10 minutes, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics.

Although there are some doctors who have more time to spend with patients, or those who are more knowledgeable when it comes to nutrition, chances are, you’re better off finding a pediatric nutritionist to help you tackle things like picky eating, overeating, special diets and food allergies.

Have you received nutritional advice from your child’s pediatrician? Was it helpful or off base?

7 Superfoods For a Healthy Pregnancy

7 Superfoods For a Healthy Pregnancy

When I was 8 weeks pregnant with my first child, my husband and I took a short vacation with his family at the Jersey shore. Although I wasn’t having full-blown morning sickness yet, my stomach felt kind of off and I felt hungry at the same time. So right before we left, I picked up an eggplant parmesan hero and devoured all of it on the drive down.

Suffice to say, I didn’t eat healthy during my pregnancy. Although I ate plenty of fruits and vegetables, I gave myself permission to eat chips, a slice of cake or an extra portion, because heck—I’m pregnant, I reasoned. But that thinking was all wrong and as the number on the scale went up, people would ask me, “Are you sure you’re not carrying twins?”

Through my work as a health journalist, I learned that what you eat during pregnancy really does matter and the second time around, I made it a point to eat healthier.

Sure, pregnancy cravings and food aversions can get the best of you but experts say if you want to have a healthy pregnancy, you need to eat healthy. These 7 superfoods are a good first start.

1. Eggs
Scrambled or hard-boiled, eggs are one of the best foods you can eat during pregnancy. Not only are they an excellent source of protein (1 egg has 7 grams), they also have iron and choline which are important for brain development.

Choline is so important, in fact, that the American Medical Association recently recommended pregnant women get more of it in their prenatal vitamins.

2. Berries
This time of year, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are in-season so expect them to be more affordable and delicious than any other time of the year. Since they have vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium, folic acid and antioxidants which build your baby’s skin cells and immune system, they’re one of the healthiest fruits you can eat.

3. Green leafy vegetables
If morning sickness is in full force, you might not have an appetite for veggies but green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, K, iron, and B vitamins which are important for your baby’s brain development and nervous system.

Green leafy vegetables are also good sources of calcium which is important to help your baby develop strong teeth and bones. Two to three servings a day is ideal but if you can’t stomach them, try making a green smoothie or green juice.

4. Iron fortified cereal
Since your blood volume doubles during pregnancy, it’s important to get enough iron so you won’t become anemic. Of course meat is a great way to get iron, but if you’re a vegetarian, vegan or need another source, iron-fortified cereals that have an 80 to 90 percent daily value of iron are good choices.

5. Salmon
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon are vital for your baby’s brain and eye development. Eating salmon during pregnancy may also reduce your child’s risk for asthma, a recent study found. Fresh, frozen or canned—salmon is an easy way to get protein in your diet.

6. Quinoa
You already know the importance of getting enough folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida and one way to get folate itself is by eating quinoa. Quinoa is also a great source of protein, fiber, vitamin B, E and antioxidants and it’s versatile: eat it as a side with dinner or in a fruit parfait for breakfast.

7. Lentils
Lentils contain folate, calcium, zinc and amino acids and are also an excellent source of protein and fiber which will satisfy your hunger and ward off constipation. Make a soup, vegetarian stew or throw some lentils in a salad.

What To Do When Your Child Refuses to Eat

What To Do When Your Child Refuses to Eat

When my friend’s son was 4-years-old, he was what you would call an extremely picky eater. He only ate a handful of foods and his favorites included carrots, cheese, and Pirate’s Booty.

My friend tried everything to get him to try new foods. She offered plenty of fruits and vegetables, served healthy dinners and ate healthy herself, but no matter how hard she tried, he refused to eat.

If your kid is like my friend’s son, you know how frustrating it is. And you’re not alone.

Between 13 and 22 percent of kids between ages 2 and 11 are considered picky eaters and 40 percent of their behaviors last for more than 2 years, a study in the journal Eating Behaviors found.

When kids don’t want to eat, say they don’t have an appetite, or are only willing to eat a handful of foods, it can make you worry about your their health, growth and overall development.

But picky eating isn’t something that’s likely to resolve itself without some work on your end. According to 2016 article in the New York Times, Dr. Nancy Zucker from the Duke Center for Eating Disorders said that of 2,600 adults who call themselves picky eaters, 75 percent say it started when they were kids.

Instead of pulling your hair out or giving up, there are some strategies that can help you get your picky eater to eat. Here are 5.

1. Nix the junk

Filling your kids up with empty calories found in a box, bag or container (crackers, bars, snacks, etc.) or juice or sports drinks will guarantee that your kid won’t have an appetite for real, healthy food.

When they eat foods that have a lot of sugar and salt, it also primes their taste buds for salty and sweet and so those are the types of foods they’ll crave.

2. Make sure they’re actually hungry
If your kids are snacking all day, it’s no surprise that they won’t be hungry for what you serve at meal times. Timing is important too. If your kid raids the refrigerator after school, then he’s definitely not going to want to eat his dinner at 5pm.

So make sure you have a consistent meal and snack time schedule and then use your best judgment when your kid asks can I have a snack now?

3. Start small
Studies show that it takes 15 to 20 times of offering a new food before a kid is willing to try it, so if you’ve tried a few times without success, keep at it. A misnomer about these studies however, is that you only have to offer a pea-sized amount of the food, not an entire portion.

4. Switch it up
Just as you probably get bored eating the same foods day after day, it’s possible that your kid simply isn’t interested in what you’re serving up.

I’m not saying you should become a short order cook, but buy a new vegetable your kid has never had, add different seasonings to your meals or let your kid pick out a new grain to try, for example.

5. Try a supplement
If you’re worried that your kid isn’t getting the key nutrients he needs to grow, you might want to try a supplement drink, albeit temporarily. Studies show that when kids are getting the nutrition they need, their appetites improve and they start to crave healthy food.

4 Excuses Parents Make For What Kids Eat

4 Excuses Parents Make For What Kids Eat

I was speaking with a literary agent earlier this week about my book proposal and I thought she was fairly on target when she told me, “I think most parents know what to do but they don’t do it.”

Although I don’t completely agree that parents know how to feed their kids, research shows that they do think it’s a losing battle. In fact, according to a survey by Abbott, more than 75 percent of us give in to picky eating rather than struggle.

When we give in, however, we also make excuses and rationalize what we feed our kids. Like other aspects of parenting, it’s just too hard so we come up with a reason why and let ourselves off the hook. It’s OK to take the easy road every once in awhile but make it a habit and you’re setting your kids up for a lifetime of unhealthy eating and making excuses for themselves too.

The good news is that you can overcome many of the obstacles you face with a few simple strategies. Read on and learn how to tackle 4 of the most common excuses parents make for the way they feed their kids.

1. “There’s no time”
As a working mom myself with two young kids, I know how strapped for time you are. It’s no surprise that planning, cooking and serving healthy meals and snacks takes time. It’s much easier and faster to throw a granola bar or a bag of crackers in their lunch boxes instead of planning out balanced meals that consist of whole foods.

The truth is that if you really want your kids to eat healthy, you have to prioritize it. Then to save time, make large batches of meals you can freeze and re-heat during the week, set aside individual portions of healthy snacks, or pack lunches the night before so you’re not rushed in the morning.

2. “It’s too expensive”
Although healthy food might be more expensive than less healthy food in some categories, consumers think this belief is accurate across the board whether it’s true or not and infer that eating healthy is too expensive, a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research found.

It’s much more affordable to feed your kids chips or cookies instead of fruits and vegetables but you can’t put a price tag on your child’s health. Spending money on food that will keep your kid healthy now and throughout his life is well worth it.

Some ways to save that have worked for me include eating less meat, soaking and cooking dry beans, buying in-season and making portions smaller.

3. “He won’t eat that”
This is one excuse that I frequently hear from parents and it’s a myth. Once you decide that your kid only eats foods that are white, always rejects green vegetables or wouldn’t touch a piece of fish simply because that’s been his MO, it becomes reality. You assume that since your kid has refused to eat something multiple times that he’ll never eat it and you give up and feed him what you know he will eat. You cater to his preferences instead of giving him the opportunity to try—and maybe even like—new foods.

Studies show that it can take 15 to 20 times of serving a new food before a child is willing to accept it and you only have to serve a pea sized amount of food for it to work. So keep trying and chances are your kid will be a little foodie in no time.

4. “Kids should be kids”
Why is it that we overhaul are diets when we want to eat healthier but we justify the boxed macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets our kids eat? Perhaps you think you’re robbing your kids of their childhood if you (gasp!) deprive them of their favorite kids’ foods. Sure, childhood is made up of memories of ice cream on hot summer days or cotton candy at the carnival, but feeding them “kids’ food” is actually the best way to rob them of their health now and well into the future.

Instead, take a more balanced approach and only serve treats on the weekends, serve fruit as dessert or make healthier versions of their favorite foods, for example. Serve your kids what you eat and you’ll put an end to picky eating and raise kids who know how to eat healthy.

5 “Healthy” Kids’ Snacks That Actually Aren’t

5 “Healthy” Kids’ Snacks That Actually Aren’t

Walk through the snack aisle at any grocery store or big box store and you’ll find so many different kinds of quick, easy and convenient snacks to throw in your kid’s lunch box or take on a road trip. Many of the snacks might seem healthy but many of them actually aren’t.

That’s because the marketing gurus at food companies are experts at using the right language, packaging and placement to get you—and your kids—to believe their health claims. They call out certain ingredients like whole grains and chia seeds or have health halos like “made with real fruit,” or “low in sugar.”

If you don’t take the time to read labels and decipher the ingredients, it’s easy to buy snacks that have little to no nutritional value.

Here are 5 of the most common types of snacks you should watch out for.

1. Yogurt
You already know that yogurts that come with M&M’s, cookies or crackers are filled with too much sugar but what you may not realize is that most yogurt brands that look healthy have as much—or more—sugar than a candy bar. You’d be surprised that whether the yogurt is organic, low-fat, or made with real fruit or it’s marketed to kids or not, you might as well serve it for dessert.

2. Bars
Snack bars are big business in the U.S. In fact, in 2016, the market for granola bars was worth 6.56 billion. But it’s not just granola bars that we’re grabbing. There are countless types of breakfast bars, protein bars, energy bars and all-fruit bars.

Most of these bars seem like healthy snacks for kids especially because they have good-for-you ingredients like oatmeal, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and seeds and nuts. But many of them are high in calories and sugar and are more of a meal replacement than a snack.

For quite awhile, I bought That’s it. fruit bars for my kids. They were easy to throw in their lunch boxes or take with us to after-school activities. Although they’re not the worst snack I could feed my kids, they’re high in sugar and low in fiber and protein.

Bars are OK when you’re traveling or in a pinch, but they shouldn’t replace a piece of fruit or cut up vegetables.

3. Juice
Kids love juice boxes and pouches but even if they’re organic, they’re not healthy. Just look at the ingredients label and you’ll see they are made with juice concentrate and have lots of sugar. According to experts, most kids don’t even need juice in their diets if they’re eating healthy to begin with.

If you really want your kids to drink healthy juice, however, then make your own fresh juice at home with mostly vegetables and some fruit.

4. Muffins
You might think grabbing a muffin at the coffee shop or a package of mini muffins are healthy, but even if they have fruit, most are high in calories, refined carbohydrates, and sugar and low in protein and fiber.

5. “Veggie” snacks
Veggie sticks or veggie chips seem to be better than regular potato chips but just because they have vegetables, they’re not something your kids should be eating in the first place. Once again, read labels and you’ll discover veggie snacks are made with things like potato starch, potato flour and spinach powder. Or they’re so processed, they’re devoid of all the nutrition you think you’re getting. These types of snacks are also low in protein and fiber and filled with sodium.

Why you should never order off the kids’ menu

Why you should never order off the kids’ menu

Let me hit you with some shocking statistics.

In 1970, Americans spent 26 percent of their food dollars eating out but today we spend nearly 50 percent, according to National Restaurant Association. We dine out 4.5 times a week on average and 2015 was the first time in history that we spent more money dining out than buying groceries.

Pretty surprising, right?

When it comes to our kids in particular, more than a third of them eat fast food on any given day, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yet according to a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 97% of chain restaurants did not meet the expert nutrition standards for kids’ meals.

Fast food and dining out is not something my family does on a regular basis.

Ask my kids what McDonald’s is and they’ll give you a blank stare. They’ve been to Wendy’s, Friendly’s, Chick-fil-A, and Chili’s a total of one time at each. Between large portion sizes, dishes that are filled with way too much salt, sugar and fat, it’s not something I want to eat or have my kids eat.

Stop ordering off the kids’ menu

Recently my husband and I took our kids to a new restaurant that described their menu as “authentic Mexican cuisine.” They had fresh guacamole made table side, fajitas, quesadillas and an extensive menu of Mexican entrees.

When we were seated, the waitress brought my daughters a picture and crayons to color with the menu printed on the back. Instead of smaller versions of dishes from the main menu, there were chicken fingers, burgers and grilled cheese and of course all of them were served with French fries.

It didn’t surprise me but I was disappointed. If you’re bringing your kid to a Mexican restaurant, you want them to try Mexican food, not something they can eat at any time, anywhere.

Most kid-friendly establishments offer the same kid-friendly fare. Sure, some restaurants now offer healthier options like grilled chicken nuggets, a side of vegetables and applesauce, but it’s rare to find a fresh green salad, beans or salmon.

A kids’ menu is usually more affordable, convenient and offers kids-sized portions. It almost guarantees that kids will eat it and be well behaved because they’re given what they want. At home you might be willing to battle your picky eater, but when you’re out, you just want to have a peaceful, enjoyable meal.

But having a kids menu serves that exact purpose. It caters to kids preferences.

Restaurants offer kids menus because in the U.S. we treat kids as though there is something special about them and about the way they eat. We assume that kids will refuse to eat what’s on the regular menu. As a result, kids come to expect chicken fingers, French fries and chocolate milk.

When my family goes out to a restaurant, we rarely order off the kid’s menu. Instead, we’ll order salad and pizza with veggies, pasta with veggies, or an appetizer our kids have never tried and then they split a main dish.

Ordering off the main menu might be more expensive but isn’t exposing your kids to new flavors and new dishes worth it? Here are some things to try.

1. Start with an appetizer.
If your kids are really hungry, they’ll be more likely to eat something they’ve never tried. Shrimp cocktail, a salad, guacamole, salsa or soup are all great choices.

2. Share a dish.
Restaurant entrees are three or even four times the size of a healthy portion so it can often be split among family members.

3. Include foods they will eat.
You don’t have to order something entirely new that you know your children will refuse but you can order a dish you know they will eat with something healthy or something new.

4. Order breakfast for dinner.
Eggs are not only an excellent source of protein, but you can let your child choose the vegetables or ask for fruit on the side. If you’re at a diner, ask for whole wheat bread or potatoes, not both.

5 Ways to Serve Kids Vegetables For Breakfast

5 Ways to Serve Kids Vegetables For Breakfast

It’s hard enough to get your kids to eat their vegetables at dinner but for breakfast?

It sounds downright impossible.

And why should your kids be eating vegetables for breakfast in the first place?

I’ve interviewed several Western medical, functional medicine doctors and naturopaths and one thing is for sure: 10 servings of mostly vegetables and some fruit is what we should all be getting. So why would our kids be any different?

Eating vegetables gives your kids the vitamins and minerals their bodies need to grow. They ward off high cholesterol, high blood pressure and childhood obesity and the risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke when they’re older. The fiber they contain will fill up their bellies, make them feel satiated and prevent constipation.

Serving up vegetables at breakfast is also one way to nip picky eating in the bud for good. It makes it that much easier to get your kids to eat healthy because they learn that vegetables are part of a healthy plate and not only at dinnertime.

With some creativity, consistency and patience, getting your kids to eat vegetables for breakfast doesn’t have to be a struggle. Here are some things that have worked for me.

1. A buffet
A few weeks ago, I was running low on food and I only had parsnips, radishes and sweet potatoes in the house. Instead of trying to pretend I was on Chopped, I pulled out my Pampered Chef pan, tossed the vegetables and the sweet potatoes together with some olive oil and roasted everything together. I put a buffet-like spread out for my daughters so they could choose what they wanted, added an egg on the side and breakfast was served.

2. Eggs
A frittata, quiche, an omelete or egg muffins are all great ways to start off the day right with vegetables. Eggs are packed with protein and are one of the healthiest foods you can feed babies and big kids alike. Throw in last night’s vegetables or make your dish the night before to save time in the morning.

3. Green juice or smoothie
I don’t think you should sneak in vegetables to get your kids to eat them but making a green smoothie or a green juice can be one way to serve vegetables for breakfast. And because it’s green, your kids are completely aware that there are veggies in their cup.

4. Toast
Who says toast is only good with butter? Pull out the whole grain bread and make a vegetable panini, vegetable grilled cheese or dice vegetables for a delicious morning bruschetta.

5. Veggie “hash”
One of my friends shreds sweet potatoes, but you can use carrots, butternut squash or any type of vegetable. Use a vegetable peeler, grater or food processor, drizzle veggies with a bit of olive oil or coconut oil and cook them in a skillet. Add a protein and breakfast is served.

Schools Want Kids To Eat Breakfast, But Is It Healthy?

Schools Want Kids To Eat Breakfast, But Is It Healthy?

Whole grain strawberry toaster pastries.

Cheese grits.

Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry milk.

That’s what Rowan Elementary Middle School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi is serving up for breakfast. They also have sausage patties which are a good source of protein, but have quite a bit of fat and sodium too. Fruit is also on the menu but vegetables? No way.

A whopping 13 million children in America live in food insecure households where healthy and safe food isn’t always a given. In high-poverty areas like Hattiesburg, the good news is that Community Eligibility, a federal program and key provision of The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, allows students to eat breakfast and lunch for free.

Studies show kids who eat breakfast have more energy, are more alert, miss less days in school, get higher scores on standardized math tests and are more likely to graduate.

The town I live in has a median household income of approximately $76,000 and at my daughter’s school, the breakfast menu includes whole-grain muffins, pancakes and waffles—all with milk and fruit. Not the best options in my opinion but what shocked me the most when my daughter started kindergarten is that they also offer graham crackers.

In my house graham crackers are a cookie and a treat. They’re low in fiber, protein and have added sugar. Not exactly the way I want my kid to start her day.

The School Breakfast Program, which is offered to any child, serves nearly 90,000 schools and child care institutions. According to the USDA, schools must follow the meal pattern and nutrition standards based on the Dietary Guidelines for America. Although they must adhere to federal meal requirements, the foods and the way they’re prepared are up to local school food authorities.

Yet it’s not only the schools in poverty-stricken areas that fall short when it comes to school meals.

School districts have to adhere to their budget but why can’t they serve whole-grain toast instead of pastry or oatmeal instead of grits which have more fiber and less sodium.

Rather than sausage, why not eggs, Greek yogurt or even beans?

It seems that come September, the problem will get worse. The Trump Administration announced recently that they will revise the school meal nutritional requirements relaxing the rules on whole grains, sodium and milk. Schools no longer have to offer 100% whole grains, adhere to a sodium limit and can now offer 1% flavored milk.

When it comes to teaching kids how to eat healthy, it must start at home with healthy food all the time. For food insecure families, however, that’s not always possible which is why healthy school breakfast and lunch are even more important.

5 Healthy Snack Ideas For Summer Road Trips

5 Healthy Snack Ideas For Summer Road Trips

On Memorial Day weekend, my daughters and I took a road trip to visit family in Pennsylvania. My cousin had a party to celebrate her college graduation and we had all planned to spend some quality time together.

When my daughters were toddlers and we would do this 4-hour drive, I used to pack cheese, fruit and Goldfish crackers as a special treat. I knew the crackers were something they would look forward to since we didn’t eat them at home.

I knew it would keep them occupied.

I knew it would make them happy.

But this line of thinking is all wrong.

Keeping kids busy and entertained in the car is a challenge for every parent. You can bring coloring books, games, and the iPad, but chances are your kids will eventually get antsy and ask are we there yet? at least a few times.

But giving them food is about as unhealthy as sitting them down in front of the TV with dinner. Giving them food in the car to keep them busy teaches them that it’s OK to eat when you’re bored. It’s OK to eat to pass the time. It’s OK to eat because it’s a special occasion.

How many times as parents do we do this? I’ll be the first to confess this is one of my own struggles.

Giving my kids Goldfish or any type of processed, packaged, salty snack isn’t what anyone should be eating on a road trip. For starters, there’s only a small amount of protein and fiber, not nearly enough to make them feel satiated. And the simple carbohydrates will cause a nice spike in their blood sugar. Not good for a nation where children with Type-2 diabetes is on the rise.

In recent years, I’ve noticed that the highway rest stops have introduced healthier options. Most of them are still made up of fast-food restaurants, but you can usually find fresh, whole foods in the mini travel mart but you’ll definitely pay more for it.

When it comes to healthy kids’ snacks for summer road trips, here are some ideas that have worked for me.

1.Trail mix
Store-bought trail mixes are a good idea but be sure to read labels because many are filled with salty nuts, too much dried fruit and chocolate. Since my daughter has food allergies, I like to make my own trail mix with unsalted sunflower seeds, almonds and a handful of raisins.

2. Crudité
Cut up celery, carrots or your kid’s favorite vegetables and pair them with hummus, a nut butter or bean dip.

3. Fruit and cheese
Apples, bananas and oranges all travel well but you can bring any kind of fruit. Pair it with a serving of cheese and you have a healthy snack that will hold over your kids until you get to your next destination.

4. Greek yogurt
Many kids’ yogurts are filled with so much added sugar, you might as well give your kids a candy bar. Instead, pack low-sugar yogurt tubes (I like Siggi’s or make ahead individual portions of Greek yogurt and add your own berries, for a delicious, filling snack.

5. Beans
My kids love to eat beans and they’re so delicious and versatile I make them several times a week. Beans, lentils or edamame are all excellent sources of protein and fiber and will keep your kid feeling full for hours.

What are some healthy snacks you pack for summer road trips?

How To Make Homemade Baby Food—Fast

How To Make Homemade Baby Food—Fast

Like anything else before I was a mom, I never gave much thought to what I would feed my baby.

When I was pregnant, I read about the benefits of breastfeeding and decided that I would breastfeed for at least a year. But starting solids didn’t seem like a big deal to me. Other moms I knew fed their kids baby food in a jar and that seemed like the thing to do. I had written a story about Plum Organics and their organic baby food pouches seemed like a good idea too.

After I read The Baby and Toddler Cookbook however, I was certain that homemade baby food was going to be the best decision for my family. And when I started to steam and puree fruits and vegetables for my daughter, I realized that it was easy, quick and even less expensive than store-bought baby food.

When I offered my daughter all of the wonderful new flavors, tastes and textures, I was so excited. I enjoyed knowing exactly what I was feeding her and I knew that by exposing her to fresh baby food, she would learn what real food tastes like and she would grow into a healthy eater.

The Case For Homemade

Making your own homemade baby food is one of the best things you can do for your baby. You can choose food that is organic, local, from the farmer’s market and those that are in-season so they’re fresher and more affordable.

Although many of the store-bought brands don’t have preservatives or additives, open them up and you’ll smell—and taste—the difference. In 2015, Good Morning America found that water was the most predominant ingredient in Plum Organics’ baby food and other ingredients like fruits, vegetables and meat, were in smaller quantities.

Store-bought baby food may also contain less than 20 percent of the recommended levels of many minerals and micronutrients, a 2012 study out of the U.K found.

Although you may want to make your own baby food, you might be strapped for time. No problem. I can’t guarantee that it’s not work, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming. Here are some tips to make baby food fast.

1. Get the right gear
To make large batches fast, I recommend you purchase a large steamer if you don’t already have one and a blender.

You can also find all-in-one baby food systems that allow you to steam and puree food quickly. Later on when your baby can handle chunkier textures, a food processor will do the trick.

Baby food can be stored in the refrigerator for three days so if you want to freeze larger batches, you’ll also need containers or ice cube trays. After they’re frozen, simply pop them out into a plastic freezer bag to free up the containers.

2. Make it in batches
You might find that making small batches every few days is easier or spending a couple of hours on the weekend to make large batches to last a few weeks is best. You can find time when your baby naps or after he goes to sleep at night if you’re not too exhausted yourself.

3. Mash it up
At 7-months-old, all types of fruit except for apples can be pureed or mashed without being cooked, Liza Huber, Founder of Sage Bears, LLC and creator of Sage Spoonfuls told me for this Fox News story.

4. Feed your baby what you eat
As your baby gets older and you introduce new foods and textures, you can set aside your own meals and put them in the blender or food processor so it has a consistency he can handle. If you have a pot of rice already on the stove for example, set some aside for a vegetable risotto for your baby.

5. Get help
Feeding your family should be a family affair so ask your partner or another family member to help out. Or make part of the process easier—and faster—by having your groceries delivered every week.