Monday, October 29, 2012

How To Store Fruit So That it's Actually Eaten

We all know that fruit is one of the best snack options; it's healthy, it's quick and it's easy.  So often fruit is thrown away because it's gone off before anyone has had a chance to finish it.  Here are our three tips on making fruit appealing to the whole family so that it is not wasted.

1. Keep fruit on the counter or table in plain sight. We love to throw bananas, apples, peaches, avocados or whatever else on hand in a bowl on the counter.  It's the first thing we see when walking into the kitchen making it an easy snack option. Your kids can help themselves.

2.  Keep cut and prepped fruit at eye level in the fridge.  Prep fruit as soon as possible after purchasing to make it a more enticing option.  Often if it isn't prepped right away, it gets pushed to the side and eventually goes off and needs to be thrown away.  Cut and put in storage containers. 

3.   Keep the freezer stocked!  Frozen fruit is fantastic for all the obvious reasons, it keeps for a long time, maintains its nutritional value and can be used in so many things.  Fruit smoothies are kid approved, fast and easy.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

How to Encourage Your Toddler to Drink Milk

So you've transitioned from nursing or formula to milk, except your toddler hates it!! UGH!  Believe it or not, this is extremely common.  Many children can't stomach the taste of milk at first introduction.  Don't panic, there are solutions.

If you are really eager to help your child acquire the taste, here are some tips:

* Start with non dairy milks like coconut or almond. If your child likes these begin to slowly add whole organic cow's milk to the mixture. Not too much though, they'll be on to you ;)  Slowly increase amounts added to the mixture until they are mainly consuming the cow's milk.

* Start the introduction with cereal and let them acquire the taste that way.  For toddlers we recommend Weetabix (can be found at Traders Joe's); it dissolves into a mushy, easy to eat texture.  Plus it's super healthy!

* Add milk to all-natural fruit smoothies.  We like to buy frozen fruits like pineapple and mangoes.  Add milk and bananas and you have a delicious snack!

A child can acquire the taste over time so stay patient and don't give up.  Think of it as a marathon not a sprint.

In the end your toddler can get enough calcium from yogurt and cheese and other plant based sources such as broccoli.

Any tips and tricks that have worked for you?  Please share!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Joy of Eating

Meals aren't automatically a joyous experience, kids have to be taught that food is to be savored, enjoyed, and felt with all senses.  But how?  Here are our 5 tips to doing just that.

1. Bring an upbeat mood to the table. As parents we get to set the mood for the meal. 

2. Talk about and use different senses; taste, smell, touch, sight and sound.

3. Family meals are important, so have them as often as possible. Kids love your undivided attention. Food = Family.

4. Cook together! Doing this may inspire a love of cooking that may be lacking in yourself.  It creates bonding time, childhood memories and a respect for food.

5. Pass down recipes from other family members. Part of the joy of eating is nostalgia and warm memories. Create those with your kids and they will pass them on to theirs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Quinoa Two Ways

Quinoa is a great replacement for rice and is a fantastic source for protein and fiber, making this a perfect side for kids who don't get enough.  Best of all, it is ready in about 15 minutes!

Here is a basic quinoa side dish recipe that goes with just about anything.  We quickly sautéed tofu (cut into snowflakes with a cookie cutter) and added it to our basic quinoa recipe.  Kale chips are on the side for a little crunch.

In the recipe pictured above we added trail mix (just dried fruit and nuts) with fresh chopped kale to the base recipe written below.

Basic Quinoa Recipe
(serves 3 kids)

1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups broth
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice 
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a small saucepan, cook the quinoa in the broth and bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low-medium heat for 15 minutes or until tender.

2.  After liquid has been absorbed and 15 minutes are up, fluff with a fork.

3.  Add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, October 5, 2012

How to Teach Your Toddler to Use Utensils

1. Start when they are ready and interested. Some children are ready before others, pushing a child who isn't interested may be a waste of time.  You know your child better than anyone. 

2. Be prepared for a MESS, and lots of cringing on your part.

3. Start by scooping the food for your child and handing the spoon to them. Think thick, mushy, foods that stick to the spoon, like thickened oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce, and soggy cereal.

4. Bowls and plates with suction cups are a lifesaver at this stage! Urge your kids to scoop food from the suctioned bowls. Make it singsongy, "Scooooooooooooop and taste!"  (You can practice the mechanics of scooping at the sandbox or with dirt at the park with a shovel and pail).

5. Offer the right utensils, short handles are easiest.  There are great utensils on the market geared towards toddlers.

6. Eat together. They'll love to watch you eat with a spoon or fork while they're doing the same.  Make a big deal about it, "We're both eating with a spoon!" 

7.  Sometimes your kiddo might do better with less attention.  Give them the tools then stand back and watch while you do dishes or cook.  Many kids do better with space to explore on their own.

7. Give it time.  Even if your child is ready to start using utensils, it may take a while.  They will figure it out! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Giving Quinoa a Second Chance

After hearing all about this amazing protein rich super seed (that everyone insists on pointing out is pronounced "keen wah"), we decided to give it a try. We looked past the fact that it resembled what you would feed a pet parakeet, threw it in a pot of chicken broth and let it boil away according to the box instructions. Our hopes were high, but the finished product was pretty much a dead ringer for boiled birdseed. The texture was mushy and the flavor was beyond bland. Something along the way had gone very, very wrong.

Time has passed now and we have decided to give quinoa a second chance. We have tested out tips from folks who swear that quinoa is worth all the hype - and have found success! Some important things we learned are: 

-Use the freshest quinoa available (we get ours from bulk bins that have a higher turnover than boxed varieties).
-Always rinse the quinoa before cooking just like you would rice. 
-Boost the flavor with a dressing or seasonings, just cooking it in broth will not add enough flavor.
-Don't overcook! It should take about 15 minutes to get the right consistency.

Recipes to come!