Bananas On the Beach Or On Your Kids Plate!

healthy breakfast snack banana Our kitchen is spotlighting healthy foods in an effort to make a Nutritional “FARM”acy we can use when meal planning.  Good things are in the foods we eat, and we want to know what they are. We want to know how to cook them up tasty, and as an added bonus were asking kids why they love them! So get your cutting board ready, whether you have a picky eater or athlete to feed; this week we are focusing on Bananas!

What’s in Bananas?:  This fruit has B3 (Niacin) for good overall health; B6 which is good for clearing away waste; Vitamin C for immunity enhancement; and manganese which works with the vitamin C to create virus fighting substances.  This fruit can give the whole body a boost! Bananas have fiber and potassium which regulate body fluids. They also contain magnesium, which is good for relaxing muscles and plays a huge role in the metabolism of food!

How To Eat Bananas: You can sautée a banana in a bit of butter with brown sugar, make frozen banana chocolate covered popsicles, and make smoothies. You can also cover them in peanut butter and roll them in chocolate for a sweet treat or roll them in Rice Krispies for breakfast sushi! Lastly, you can dip bananas in chocolate fondue.

Why Do Kids Like Bananas? “Bananas are sweet and they look delicious!”  “You can make “Banana Splits!” and “You can make fruit salads with them!” Did we mention they are really easy to carry and work great for toddlers on the go?

Make sure to check out Swami Mommi on Pinterest! The “Great Desserts” board has several banana recipes to kick start the fun!

Carrots: Not Just for Peter Rabbit!

Carrots: A healthy snack for kids!

Carrots: A healthy snack for kids!

Carrots:

Our kitchen is spotlighting healthy foods in effort to make a Nutritional “FARM”acy we can use when meal planning.  Good things are in the foods we eat, and we want to know what they are. We want to know how to cook them up tasty, and as an added bonus were asking kids why they love them! So get your cutting board ready, this week we are focusing on Carrots!

Carrots:  Beta Caroten is converted into Vitamin A that is beneficial for vision and heart health. Cells are also protected. We use Vitamin K for blood clotting and the healing of wounds and to help with digestion. Chromium found in carrots helps control blood sugar levels too! It also has zinc, folate, calcium, iron and fiber.

How To Eat Carrots: One easy way is to eat carrots raw with hummus. Remember that whole carrots are difficult to digest so grate or chop them finely before eating. Carrot juice is also a great thirst quencher plus an added blood sugar stabilizer.

Why Do Kids Like Carrots? Because we can go “num num num” like Peter Rabbit, eat them with hummos, and grate them to eat  in salads. Juicing carrots is a fun thing to do too!

5 Minute Valentine Freezer Candy: Filled with Protein for a Healthy Snack!

Boxed and ready to eat, this snack is a Love filled delight! I wanted more, and decided to make a second batch!
Boxed and ready to eat, this snack is a Love-filled delight! I wanted more, and decided to make a second batch.

These treats were so easy and so quick, and full of good stuff to eat like protein and antioxidants. It can also be made Gluten, Dairy and Egg-free for your little ones with sensitivities. It’s the Valentine Solution for keeping the whole family on the right track to good nutrition!

It is also a great kids’ activity; super easy so they could really do it themselves. A great way to have fun and help kids learn about cooking and sharing the Love this time of year! They will probably request these for their lunch box too….just make sure they can be kept cold. 🙂

Ingredients:
1/2 cup nutbutter (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.)

1 1/2 tablespoons Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (I use Enjoy life because they are allergen free) or other chocolate chip variety

1 1/2 tablespoons Dried Goji berries

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Mix well and spread into a small freezer proof dish or mold into any shape with a candy mold tray. I used a plastic tray with little hearts. (I would try silicone molds the next time to eliminate the small bit of effort I had to use with the butter knife to pop them out of the tray.)

Wrap in wax paper, boxes, or tie in a pretty bag with ribbons….that is if you can wait to eat them. Om nom nom. We ate two or three before they even got in the Valentine Box!

Enjoy and have a Happy Valentine’s Day. <3 <3 <3

Warming Up Winter: Acorn Squash Sundaes Toddlers Love and Kids Can Help Make!

Warm Acorn Squash

It’s cold. Kids are inside. Tummies are growling. Time to have some quick and yummy fun! Squash Sundaes are the answer.

This recipe is super easy and can be tailored to any eaters needs. Toddlers can eat it pureed, and older kids can help make it. It’s warm, comforting, and fills the corners of hungry bellies. I used it as a dessert, but it can fit easily as a snack or even better, a warm healthy breakfast. Plus, did I mention it is jammed with nutrients and other good stuff to keep families healthy when it’s cold outside? Oh…it is!

Ingredients:

Acorn Sqush

Olive Oil

Blender or food processor (to puree for early eaters and toddlers)

Cranberries, pecans, butter (Earth Balance), maple sugar to taste

Any other additions or substitutions that you think might work, such as walnuts, raisins, maple syrup or cinnamon

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut Acorn squash in half, scoop and discard the seeds, and with about 1 tablespoon olive, coconut or grape seed oil coat the inside of the squash. This helps it stay soft and not burn while cooking. Depending on the size of your squash, cooking times may vary, however with a medium squash it took about 40 minutes to roast on the middle oven rack.

After the squash is roasted, let it sit a few minutes until you can easily scrape out the flesh. It makes a great mash as it is being scraped out of the rind, but if you need it to be pureed for your early eater or toddler, use a food processor or blender. If you don’t you may encounter a few strings or textured parts that are not safe. Additionally, kids can’t really help with this part of the recipe, as using the stove and scooping out warm squash is not safe either. However, kids do love to push the buttons on a blender, as long as they are well supervised.

Once the squash is in a bowl it is easy to get kids involved. I recommend setting out a couple small bowls with the cranberries, pecans, butter, walnuts, raisins, etc. so they can add in their favorites. If it is for the whole family they can add in what most of the family would like, or each child can get a bowl and make an individual “Squash Sundae”. Add more or less as each person desires, use them as toppings or mix throughout.

That’s it. Simple, easy and very little clean up! Tomorrow morning I’ll be trying this for a healthy breakfast, and I hope you too get to try it during these cold days of winter!

Getting Kids To Be Mindful of Their Food with Old Fashioned Juicing

mindful parenting includes mindful eating

Making old-fashioned juice is simple. It teaches kids to slow down and nourish themselves.

My grandma lived to be 93 years old. Her secret? Mindful eating.

My grandma used to eat an orange a day, and regularly had the manual orange juicer out on the counter of her kitchen. I remember this growing up and am thankful that she showed me how to juice oranges when I would visit her. Juicing took longer to make, but it slowed me down, enough to be mindful of this great memory some 30 years later.

One key ingredient in raising kids to be mindful of the food they are eating, is to actually cook and make food along with them. Slowing down to cook, in a non hurried way, will stand out to kids and make a statement in their hurried world. The statement we as parents are making is that our kids are worth the time it takes to make good and wholesome food.

Being mindful of the food we eat, setting examples of making food that is nourishing, and cooking with our kids is what happens when we as parents are mindful of the food we eat. In turn, we give kids the gift that will last their entire lifetime. The only catch, is that there is window of opportunity in which they will follow this example and learn. A good rule of thumb, is the earlier you as a parent demonstrate mindful eating, the better.

Mindful Food From My Grandma’s Kitchen:

I had known nothing but carton juice till then and tons of processed food. It was in vogue at the time to eat food that was already made what you brought it home. But the juicing skills developed when I was a child have proven a great bonus for my family now.

With the extra time at breakfast, we have taken advantage of our old fashioned orange juicer. It’s fun. Its tasty. And it’s nutritious. Thanks Grandma!

Not only did my grandma juice her own OJ she also cooked. Each and every day. I remember a silver metal pot within which cooked the most fatty and delicious pot roast. Salads, soups and a fruit dessert were never left out of the late day meal. There was good homemade food almost all day long. Juicing just got things started.

Cooking with our kids taches our kids how to eat mindfully.

My mindful grandma had so little time, but she made sure to cook good nourishing food.

One might think my Grandma bought into the 50’s housewife ideal I’d have to tell you strait that she did not. She was anything but the 50’s housewife. She worked in the Steel Mills during the war -a Rosie the Riveter type job. She wrote her own books, invented board games for kids, and divorced her husband despite having 2 kids to raise.

I figured if my grandma could make time to juice and orange and cook, I could too.

What Is In Orange Juice That Makes it So Healthy?

These days,  I know much more about what is in oranges and vitamin C too.

Much of my information comes from a book called “The Vitamin Cure for Children’s Health Problems” by Ralph Campbell, M.D. and Andrew W. Saul, PhD. It’s a great book with topics well beyond Vitamin C, but an excellent place to start if Vitamin C is a topic of curiosity. I like it because they site every single research article they use in the appendix.

I started by wondering how much vitamin C there is in a glass of raw fresh pressed orange juice and I found it to have about 124 mg of Vitamin C. I found this on nutritiondata.self.com so it so I figured it would at least be a good estimate. My next question? Is 124 mg enough? Too much? Too little?

After reading Dr. Campbell and Dr. Saul’s book, I think it to be a bit low, however the jury is still out on what is a good dose for each individual. In addition to body size, other factors such as stress can increase the need for Vitamin C. So juicing 1-2 times a day sounds about right.

What I found interesting was that animals produce their own Vitamin C, but humans do not. We are relying on our food to do the whole thing! If that doesn’t put the pressure on us moms and dads in the kitchen, I don’t know what would? Mindful nutrition is so needed in our American households!

Also important to digest is the fact that when someone has a viral cold or flu, the need for Vitamin C increases dramatically. Hopefully, they had good levels of Vitamin C to begin with, but if they have a full-fledged cold or flu, they were probably low. Adequate levels of Vitamin C tend to ward off colds before they begin.

Even more important is Vitamin C’s action on blood vessels. There is evidence in the literature that suggests it strengthens the walls of the blood vessels both small and large. Also white blood cells can concentrate Vitamin C levels up to 8 times as much as blood plasma levels, which can be very important when they are busy fighting infection. That is of course if there are levels of Vitamin C that are adequate to meet such a demand.

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In addition to it’s many general benefits, it apparently is an aid to healthy vaccinations. According to research by Banic, Vitamin C  “improves the immune response from vaccinations.”

Beyond daily diets, Vitamin C can help us raise healthy kids. If we parent mindfully and cook with our kids, they too will be mindful kids related to food. Let’s slow down and juice. Let’s slow down and cook some slow food. It will taste great and our kids will be more thoughtful about their own food choices.

Looking back I have to thank my grandma, with her juicer and pot roasts and mindful eating. She lived to be 93. Let’s see if I can make it to 93 as well!

Shepard’s Pie for Baby, Toddler, and the Whole Family.

 

Leprechaun Beard

It might be the night before St. Patrick’s day, but the point of this entry is that it is the night before…..not the night after. Time still remains to make a family tradition out of this very green holiday. Serious or silly, recycled (green) or newly constructed, this occasion can be one that brings families together to enjoy each other.

This year we are making leprechaun beards out of construction paper and string, creating homespun tall tales about St. Patrick’s Day, and making some yummy food! Shepard’s Pie for the whole family. Once it’s cooked toddler will love it too. I remember last year I pureed it for baby but this year all the parts of the pie make for great finger food. It’s good for baby’s first foods (pureed), toddler finger foods and the rest of the family too!

In addition to some hearty Irish Food, one tradition I always try to honor on St. Patrick’s Day is getting together and connecting with friends. Franz Schubert said “Happy is a person who finds a true friend” and this year I reached out to my dear friend Kristen to see what she and her family were up to in Charlotte, NC. She is an amazing friend and I am one lucky lass to know her. Continue reading