Peaceful Fruits: A Healthy Snack Food that also Does Good

Peaceful fruits

A new feature that I'll be doing on occasion is reviewing food items. Why? Because I know that sometimes you just want to know what the heck to put in your grocery cart. 

Any foods that I share with you will be healthy choices that are also either good for the Earth and/or socially responsible. 

I believe in being transparent so I'll always share with you if I've been paid to promote a food or given a free sample.

The first food that I'm sharing is Peaceful Fruits Fruit Leathers. Evan, Peaceful Fruit's creator (that's him in the photo), asked me if I'd share them with you. He sent me samples of Wild Acai + Pineapple and Wild Acai + Apple. They are delicious and a nice (not too big) size. Currently they're only available for purchase online. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for their arrival in our local grocery stores.

I asked Evan to share his story with you. Here's what he wrote: 

Is it too much to ask for a snack to be delicious, healthy, and environmentally responsible? It shouldn’t be! I’d like to share with you the 4 things that I look for in a snack. These are what I was thinking about when, about a year ago, I launched my social good snack food startup – Peaceful Fruits. Our mission is to support sustainable development in the Amazon Rainforest while creating delicious snack foods people can enjoy with peace of mind!

1) Simple

No additives (preservatives, extra sweeteners, coloring, whatever). Really, the fewer ingredients the better. And not just the listed ingredients but what is INSIDE those ingredients. So I want to know it’s 100% organic, GMO free, etc.

That’s why, when I started making dried fruit strips, I decided there would be nothing besides fruit in them! Call me crazy, but it just makes sense!

2) Super

Personally, if I pick up a packaged food I want it to have something extra to offer me. As I said I like to keep things simple, so why should I reach for something besides an apple and/or a handful of nuts?

My answer was to make wild-harvested açaí the main ingredient in everything I produce. I love being able to add this exotic fruit to my diet!

3) Sustainable

As a former Peace Corps Volunteer, I think about this a lot – how do the products I enjoy impact the environment and the people who are part of making them?

Sustainability is built into every aspect of Peaceful Fruits. That means big stuff like our açaí is sourced in partnership with local Amazon communities, offering them an opportunity to generate needed income without sacrificing their way of life or their rainforest. And also little stuff – our “plastic” packaging is actually compostable!

 4) Delicious

We all know that, too often, taste can be sacrificed to “healthy” or “local.” But we also know it doesn’t have to be! Food should taste good. Period.

I look for fun flavour combinations (like açaí + pineapple) that create something that you can really enjoy – while still being confident you are doing something good for your body and the world at the same time!

The bottom line:

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice convenience or flavor to eat something good. If you agree with me about that, I hope you’ll think twice about this important, between-meals part of your day! And please check out Peaceful Fruits on Facebook and Twitter  so you can be part of our story!

Of course, tasting is a great way to be part of the story too! If you’d like to buy our snacks, the best way for now is online - for example on FarmtoPeople.com

Thanks to Kristen for letting me tell a part of my story!

Banana Ice Cream (Dairy and Sugar Free)

banana ice cream

I wish that I had discovered this recipe earlier in my life. It’s creamy, smooth and delicious – just like ice cream! Banana ice cream.

While it’s vegan and sugar-free, the best thing about this recipe (besides the taste) is that it only includes 1 or 2 ingredients. How great is that!

The secret is very ripe bananas. Buy them when you see them in the store. Slice and freeze them. Then you’re ready to make ice cream anytime you wish.

Blending the bananas does take a little while. At first they will break into a chunky slurry and you will likely think that this “ice cream” idea doesn’t work. Be patient. Next it will form one big ball. Then, suddenly, it will become a beautiful, smooth, whipped texture – just like ice cream. If you haven’t added any strongly coloured flavourings, the colour of your bananas will also suddenly lighten considerably to a creamy off-white. That’s what you’re looking for – your “ice cream” is ready!

There are likely hundreds of flavor combinations. I’m sharing the plain version (so you know the base recipe) along with 3 flavour ideas. My favourite is the cinnamon.

Banana Ice Cream Directions

  1. Peel and slice bananas. Freeze.
  2. Place frozen sliced bananas in a blender. Add flavouring ingredients. Blend until smooth.

Banana Ice Cream Ingredients

Plain

1 cup              sliced bananas

Cinnamon

1 cup              sliced bananas

¼ tsp              cinnamon

Chocolate

1 cup              sliced bananas

½ - 1 tsp        cocoa

Half a teaspoon of cocoa results in a banana ice cream with just a hint of chocolate. One teaspoon gives a full chocolate flavour. Choose a level that you enjoy.

Strawberry

2/3 cup          sliced bananas

1/3 cup          strawberries

This combination works best if you partially blend the bananas first until they are just about to start creaming. Then add the strawberries. The result will be a creamy ice cream with strawberry flavour. Adding the strawberries at the same time as the bananas results in a more icy rather than creamy texture (more sorbet-like rather than ice cream-like).

Check out more healthy recipes.

Fresh Fruit Granitas

Fresh Fruit Granitas

Similar to a slushie but made with real fruit, granitas are super refreshing in the summer heat.

They’re easy to prepare. The only tricky thing is to plan ahead so that you’re home and you remember to break up the ice crystals every hour (I set the alarm on my phone to remind me).

Kids can help measure ingredients, push the buttons on the blender, and scrape the ice crystals.

The fruit flavor is strong in granitas. The recipes here are listed from the most mild to the strongest. If your little ones prefer mild flavours, stick to the melon granitas. The kiwi granita is so strong that it almost made my eyes water (which I enjoyed on a hot afternoon).

Fresh Fruit Granitas - Directions

The steps are the same for all the recipes:

  1. In a saucepan, combine sugar and water.
  2. Bring sugar water to a boil until the sugar is well dissolved.
  3. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  4. In a blender, combine the fruit (removed from it’s peel and pits), fruit juice (or other liquid), and sugar water.
  5. Pour into a non-metal baking dish, such as a glass lasagna pan.
  6. Place in the freezer. Freeze for 1 hour.
  7. Remove from the freezer and scrape thoroughly with a fork, breaking up the ice crystals.
  8. Return to the freezer for 1 hour. Again, remove from the freezer and break up the ice crystals with a fork. Repeat at least 2 more times.

Fresh Fruit Granitas - Recipes

Cantaloupe

Adapted from: http://www.whiskaffair.com/2013/03/cantaloupe-lemon-and-mint-granita.html

1                      cantaloupe

1/4 cup          sugar

¼ cup             water

4 TBSP            fresh lemon juice

Raspberry-Watermelon

Adapted from: http://whipperberry.com/2013/06/raspberry-watermelon-granita.html

5 cups             cubed, de-seeded watermelon

2.5 cups          raspberries

½ cup             sugar

½ cup             cran-raspberry juice cocktail

(Combine sugar and cran-raspberry juice cocktail in saucepan.)

Pineapple-Mango

Adapted from: http://www.muybuenocookbook.com/2013/03/pineapple-and-mango-granita-blendtec-giveaway/

Juice from 2 limes

1/3 cup          sugar

1                      pineapple, peeled, cored and diced

2                      mangos, peeled, pitted, and diced

(There’s no heating the sugar in this recipe. Simply combine all ingredients in a blender.)

Kiwi

Adapted from: http://dhaleb.com/2010/03/

5                    kiwis

½ cup           sugar

½ cup           water

1 cup              club soda

2 teaspoons   lime juice

See more delicious, healthy recipes here.

How to Help Kids Stop Dawdling at Meals

How to Help Kids Stop Dawdling at Meals

Most parents ask me for help with getting their kids to actually stay sitting at the table (if that’s you, check out this blog post). But every once and a while parents ask me for help with the opposite problem. Their child takes forever to eat. Every meal is a long, drawn out affair with long minutes going by between each bite. Every time you go to take their plate away they take another bite or two. You feel torn amongst letting them get enough to eat and actually moving along with the day. If this sounds like you, here’s a strategy to help your child eat enough during a reasonable mealtime.  

Step #1: Check Your Expectations. For us adults, the mechanisms of eating are easy. We move the muscles in our mouths and throats to eat without even thinking of it. And, we have the dexterity to use utensils with ease.

Toddlers still are learning the mouth control for eating. So it can take longer to chew and swallow safely. That’s exactly why we have the recommendations of not giving choking hazards to kids under 3 years old.

Preschoolers and school-age kids have mastered chewing and swallowing. But they are still mastering utensils. Expect them to take longer to eat when a meal involves utensils.

Step #2: Use a Visual Clock. Have you taken into account the extra time for mouth coordination and utensil use and determined that you have an honest to goodness dawdler? Here’s a technique that I’ve used with lots of kids to help them learn to manage their mealtime. It’s quite simple really. Kids this age do well with visual cues. This technique stops you from nagging that it’s time to finish up (and prevents kids from learning to tune you out). You simply set a timer, let kids see it counting down, and kids learn to manage completing their task (in this case, eating) within the allotted time. Older kids can follow a simple timer countdown on a cell phone or tablet set up on the table. Younger kids need a visual that doesn’t involve numbers. There are a number of apps and devices available to create a visual representation of a clock. An example of a product is: http://www.timetimer.com/store

To look for apps simply search for “visual timer” in your device’s app store (iTunes, Google Play).

To use the visual clock, introduce the new rule to your child then follow-through. Expect them to get it wrong a few times as they experience the learning curve. During this transition, don’t let them continue eating after the timer is done. Because they will likely be a bit hungry, do plan an extra big snack and, if you can, move snack time up a bit.

Kids are smart. They learn how to regulate their meal time within a few days.

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4th Annual Home-made Popsicles (a.k.a. Ice Pops, Paletas)

Home-made popsicles, healthy, no sugar

I love that the healthy home-made popsicles trend is continuing (also known as ice-pops or paletas). Have you jumped on board? It's a fantastic way to enjoy some fruits and veggies. All these recipes are delicious. You won't believe that they have no sugar. Kids often love to help make them too. Here are 4 new home-made ice pop recipes for you to enjoy this summer. In case you're wondering why there are 4 recipes but only 3 in the picture, I ate all the banana-strawberry-orange ones before taking the photo :)

Home-Made Popsicles Directions

All the steps are the same for all home-made popsicles. And they're very easy:

  1. Combine ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into the ice-pop molds.
  4. Freeze.
  5. ENJOY!

Home-Made Popsicles Ingredients

Healthy Creamsicle

This simple 3 ingredient recipe is inspired by one of my childhood favourites – creamsicles. But unlike creamsicles, the only sugar in this recipe is that naturally found in orange juice.

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Banana-Strawberry-Orange

Use ripe bananas and in-season, local strawberries and these are naturally sweet – no added sugar is needed.

  • 1 medium banana
  • 10 strawberries
  • ½ cup orange juice

Watermelon-Cucumber-Spinach

Don’t let the deep green colour of this recipe discourage you. It’s my favourite of the 4 recipes here – super refreshing and subtly sweet.

  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 6 large spinach leaves, thick stems removed
  • 2 inches cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
  • ½ cup coconut water

Pink Grapefruit

This recipe doesn’t need to be blended. Simply juice the grapefruits and combine with the soda water in a pitcher. Pour into the molds and freeze. If you find pink grapefruits too sour, you can substitute freshly squeezed orange juice.

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed pink grapefruits (approx 3 grapefruits)
  • 1 cup soda water

See more healthy, delicious recipes for home-made ice pops.

Sunshine Turmeric Smoothie (Orange-Pineapple-Fresh Turmeric)

turmeric smoothie

I found fresh turmeric the other day and was inspired to experiment. This sunshine turmeric smoothie was an overwhelming success - it tastes just like sunshine! It's a great way to serve turmeric to kids who don't like the taste of curry (there's nothing curry-tasting or spicy here).

One word of caution: turmeric stains. Serve this smoothie to kids who are at an age where spilling is very rare. Or, serve it in a cup with a very spill-proof lid. Also, when handling the turmeric wear gloves or be okay with yellow-stained fingers.

Makes 1 large adult-size smoothie.

P.S. I suspect that this would make a fantastic home-made ice-pop (popsicle).

 Sunshine Turmeric Smoothie Ingredients

2 small oranges

½ pineapple

1 TBSP flax seeds

5cm piece fresh turmeric (about the size of the first segment of my baby finger)

1 – 1.5 cups coconut milk, cashew milk, or alternative

Sunshine Turmeric Smoothie Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in the blender. Blend until smooth (it takes a little longer because of the flax seeds).
  2. Enjoy!

See more healthy, delicious recipes.

Don’t Be Heavy-Handed with “Nutrition” Talk - Teaching Nutrition to Kids

Teaching Nutrition to Kids

I had the best time on Friday! I was invited to the Valentine’s Day party at the local elementary school. I brought a variety of fruits and veggies and led an activity where we used cookie cutters to cut out hearts and thread them onto wooden skewers to make cupid’s arrows (thank you Pinterest). Do I have the best job or what?! But was I just playing? No. There’s a method to my madness. I’ve learned something in the (gulp) 20 years that nutrition’s been my world. It’s that teaching nutrition to kids isn’t the way to inspire people to have healthy eating habits. Sure, talking about vitamins, minerals, etc will change what some people eat. There will be the exception that proves the rule. But it truly is the exception. I learned this lesson the hard way. When I was a bubbly, enthusiastic nutrition student, I shared my new-found knowledge with anyone and everyone (whether they asked for my 2 cents worth or not). Guess what? Not surprisingly, most people rolled their eyes at me and went on with their same (unhealthy eating) behavior.

I’ve learned that the most effective way to influence people’s behaviour is to simply serve them delicious, healthy food. And don’t say anything about it.

With kids there is even more opportunity! You see they haven’t had 10, 20, 30 years-of habits that we need to break. With kids, all we need to do is to include healthy foods in fun and everyday activities. To make healthy eating the norm. That’s why I worked to get myself invited to the Valentine’s Day party. Because, it was a fantastic way to infuse a celebration day with healthy food. The kids totally got into it and had a fantastic time. In fact, we hardly had enough fruit to thread on the skewers because they were eating so much of it. I can honestly tell you that they didn’t miss baking cookies one bit.

Creating a positive association with healthy eating is more powerful than knowing that I “should” eat something because it has vitamin so-and-so in it.

Recently a study confirmed my experience. They found that kids were less likely to try a food. And, they rated a food as tasting worse, if they were told that it was healthy.

It’s so tempting to go on and on about WHY kids should eat a healthy food. But do your best to resist the temptation. It’s more effective if you aren’t heavy-handed with the “nutrition” talk.

As the saying goes:

“Actions speak louder than words”.

How do you incorporate healthy eating into fun activities? I'd love you to share in the comments below!

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Golden Milk

Turmeric-golden-milk

I created this recipe for two reasons. The first is that I love a warm mug of hot chocolate on cold evenings. But I wasn't crazy about the amount of sugar in it. Second, I've been reading about the positive health attributes of turmeric and wanting to include it more often. While I do love curries, I don't eat them multiple times a week. Also, I know that many kids don't like curries. So I was looking for another way to incorporate turmeric into their eating habits. I came across the idea for warm turmeric milk and I was inspired.

Personally I didn't care for it plain. But by adding some orange blossom water and just a touch of sugar, it came together as a delicious way to end my day!

Orange blossom water is available in any store that carries a decent selection of mediterranean or middle eastern foods.

Feel free to adjust the ingredients here to suit your taste. Be warned - both turmeric and orange blossom water are very strong flavours. Adjust them by very small amounts (I mean minuscule) to find the perfect balance for you!

Turmeric Golden Milk Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk (cow's or an alternative of your choice)
  •  less than 1/8 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 3 drops orange blossom water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

Turmeric Golden Milk Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Over medium heat warm the milk, stirring frequently.
  2. Enjoy!

Looking for other recipe ideas? Check out my healthy recipes here.

Can Kids Have Too Much Fruit?

baby w fruits & veg

Here’s what a Mom recently asked me: "I have what may be a silly question. Should I be concerned with my 8 month old getting too much fruit? In other words, can kids have too much fruit?

Can Kids Have Too Much Fruit?

In a word: yes. Let me expand with 2 key points.

  1. All of us (i.e. adults too) can get diarrhea from eating too much fruit at once. If your child’s stools are getting loose, then it's a sign of too much fruit.
  2. Of course, fruit is a healthy food. But human beings need a wide variety of foods from all the food groups to meet our nutrition needs.

In particular, for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, iron is a key nutrient that we’re looking to provide through food. Fruit is low in iron. It’s recommended that you offer iron-rich foods twice a day.

It’s normal for kids to have food preferences. However, kids aren’t at a developmentally ready to understand that human beings can’t survive on a favourite food alone until they’re well into their school-age years.

How to Make Sure Your Child Doesn't Get Too Much Fruit

If you notice that your child will always choose one or two favourite foods, I recommend starting a technique that I call “controlling what’s on the menu”.

Here’s how. You choose what foods you will offer, i.e. what foods are on the menu, at meals and snacks. Your child gets to choose what they’ll eat from what you’ve provided. And, they get to control how much of each food they eat (yes, including zero bites).

This way you are creating a situation where your child eats a balance of food groups throughout the day. And, your child gets to express themselves by controlling what they eat from what you’ve provided. You’ve created an environment where you’re making sure that your child is getting good nutrition at the same time as your child’s personal boundary with their body is respected.

For example, for this mom’s 8 month old, at one solid food time each day serve an iron-rich food either on it’s own, or with another food that isn’t fruit – maybe it’s a vegetable or a grain. Feel free to offer fruit at the other solid food time where you’re offering the iron-rich food. If your child eats a particularly huge amount of fruit one day and you notice that his stools are loose, hold off offering fruit for a day or two. Create balance by offering vegetables, protein foods, and grains.

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It’s Less Work than You Think (Healthy Snacks)

healthy snacks

When I’m introducing my concept of 5-6 equal opportunities to eat to Moms and Dads many think that it sounds impossible – it’s too much work. But I promise you it’s not. In fact, it’s likely the same amount of work that you’re currently doing. But it’s work that’s moving you in the right direction of getting your picky eater to try new foods (instead of inadvertently fuelling pickier eating).

But I think I’m getting ahead of myself here. First let me explain what I mean by 5-6 equal opportunities to eat.

Toddlers and preschoolers have little tummies, short attention spans, and big nutrition needs. That’s why they need more than just 3 meals a day. I’ve found that most kids so best with three meals plus two or three snacks per day.

When I say the word “meal”, you likely imagine something with healthy foods from multiple food groups, perhaps eaten while sitting at a table. In contrast, when I say the word “snack” you likely think of something small to eat, perhaps less healthy foods, grabbed and eaten on the run.

Most toddlers and preschoolers don’t have appetites that are bigger at “meal” times and smaller at “snack” times. Instead of differentiating between “meals” and “snacks”, I recommend treating these as all as “opportunities to eat”.

So, instead of giving your child 3 meals plus 2 – 3 snacks per day, I recommend re-framing the concept to offering 5 – 6 opportunities to eat each day.

But the phrase that I started with in this post had the word “equal” in it: “5 – 6 equal opportunities to eat” .

Here’s where the “equal” comes into play.

To best meet kids’ nutrition needs in the face of their short attention spans, I recommend taking each of the 5 – 6 opportunities to eat to provide kids with healthy foods. This way if they eat a lot at afternoon snack and only two bites at dinner, it’s less of a worry than if you gave your child junky foods at afternoon snack and were relying on dinner for those vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.

Consider each opportunity to eat an equal opportunity to provide healthy foods from 2 – 4 food groups. Yes, this may mean that you’re putting more thought and effort onto your child’s snacks.

However, I can’t tell you how many families I’ve worked with who are providing quick snack handouts all day long. These parents are feeding their kids almost every hour of the day. That’s a lot of work!!

Instead of putting all your time and effort into providing constant snacks, I recommend offering 5 – 6 equal opportunities to eat each day, each of which has 2 – 4 food groups.

It’s less work than you think. And, you will be more successful in helping your child get the nutrition they need and have less picky eating behaviour.

Have you been using the 5 – 6 equal opportunities to eat strategy? Have you found it to be more work? I’d love you to share your experience in the comment section below!

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Use After School Snacks to Get Picky Eaters to Try New Foods

picky boy eating new foods after school snacks

{Guest Expert Contribution to Kidzedge} If you’re like the parents of picky eaters I’ve helped for the last 6 years, you’re constantly on the look out for ways to get your kids to eat more (healthy) foods. After school snacks are a great (and often overlooked) opportunity to contribute to kids’ nutrition. Here’s why after school snacks are such a great time to get kids to eat more foods, how to do it, and some snack ideas.

After School Snacks Why it Works:

Have you ever tried getting a child to eat a new food when they aren’t hungry? It’s a lesson in futility. Many kids have big appetites at after school snack time. Appetite is a great motivator for kids to try new foods. Take advantage of this natural window of opportunity and use after school snacks to offer your child new foods.

After School Snacks Steps to Take:

Step #1: Plan snacks that include foods from 2 or more food groups. Often we think of snacks as a time for junk food. Or, as a time for a single food – e.g. an apple. But kids have big nutrient needs and small tummies. They need healthy foods more than just at 3 meals per day.

Step #2: Consider meals and snacks to be equal opportunities to eat. A mistake that many parents make is to give their child healthy foods at meals and favorite foods at snacks. This stacks the odds against kids eating well at meals. Instead, frequently, give your child a snack that includes either a new food or a food that your child has seen many times but hasn’t tried yet.

Step #3: Think outside the snack aisle. When looking for snack ideas, it seems natural to look in the snack aisle of the grocery store. But this aisle is mostly filled with highly processed, junk foods. Instead, look for easy to eat versions of meal foods. Focus on providing foods from the food groups where your child isn’t meeting the recommendations. To see the recommendations, check out My Plate or Canada’s Food Guide

After School Snack Ideas:

  • Edamame and an orange (2 food groups)
  • White Bean Dip* with a variety of raw veggies such as snow peas, carrots, and zucchini (2 food groups)
  • Hard-boiled egg and toast (2 food groups)
  • Yogurt with blueberries and hemp hearts (3 food groups)
  • Sliced banana on top of whole grain crackers/rice cakes/corn cakes spread with peanut butter, nut-butter, or non-nut butter. (3 food groups)

White Bean Dip Recipe

Makes 12 Servings

1 can (14 oz, 17.6 oz) cannellini beans, canned, drained 1 bulb garlic, raw 1/4 cup (2 oz) olive oil 1/4 cup (2 fl oz) lemon juice, fresh

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove the outermost skin of the garlic bulb (the loose stuff). Cut off the very top of the bulb so the tip of each clove is exposed. Rub the entire bulb with some olive oil. Wrap in tin foil, shiny-side inwards. Place on a cookie sheet or in a casserole dish.
  3. Roast in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until the bulb gives off the distinct roasted garlic (not raw garlic) aroma and the cloves are squishy.
  4. Allow to cool.
  5. Drain and rinse the beans (rinsing removes some of the “magical” part of the beans). Place them in a medium-size bowl.
  6. To the beans, add half the olive oil, half the lemon juice, and half of the cloves of garlic. Using a hand-held blender, blend the mixture until it’s smooth. Adding more olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to taste and to get the texture to the desired smoothness.
  7. ENJOY with tortilla chips, crackers, apple slices, and raw veggies like carrots, celery and bell pepper strips.

Note: You can roast the garlic days in advance.

Check out my recipe page for more healthy after school snack ideas for kids.

Can Certain Foods Keep My Child Awake at Night?

foods keep child awake at night

{Guest Post for Baby Sleep 101 (Joleen Dilk Salyn)} A parent recently asked Joleen this question. Being a food-related question, she forwarded it on to me: "We gave our 2.5 year old daughter Frosted Mini-Wheats right before bed. She slept worse than usual. Did the snack keep her up at night?" In other words, can certain foods keep my child awake at night?

In a nutshell: maybe.

Let me expand.

Mini-Wheats (original) have a fair amount of sugar in them – 10 grams in 21 pieces (that’s 2 ½ teaspoons of sugar).

When scientific researchers investigate the effect of sugar on kids, they find no effect on their behaviour. However, many parents do find that giving their kids foods high in sugar is associated with “hyper” behaviour.

I don’t have a way to explain this gap.

What I do know is that each person is unique. Many of us have sensitivities to foods that the scientific community can’t explain.

So, it could be that the sugar or something else in the cereal that interrupted this little girl’s sleep. Or, it could have been something completely unrelated.

With this in mind, I recommend being a bit of a scientist yourself with your kids – use your observation skills. If you’re finding that some nights your child goes to bed well and other nights are a struggle, do some record keeping. Take as detailed of notes as possible (yes, actually write it down) about everything that happened that day. Your child’s eating (both what they ate and at what times) is just one aspect of their day. Look for any patterns that arise.

Circling back to this parent’s original question, the cereal isn’t what I would suspect initially as the culprit for their child’s rough night. But I wouldn’t rule it out as a possibility. I’d consider it after ruling out all the other more likely possibilities.

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Healthy Home-Made Ice-Pops for Kids

Healthy Home-Made Ice-Pops

Recently my friends and I were having a nostalgic laugh about the rising trend of home-made ice pops – also known as paletas. The dietitian in me loves that parents are choosing to make tasty snacks for their kids that beat the heat that include real fruits (even veggies) instead of frozen, colored, sugar water. What made my friends and I giggle was remembering how we too had homemade ice pops when we were kids. However, we were raised in the suburbs in the early 80’s. Our ice pops consisted of frozen OJ concentrate, re-constituted with water, and then frozen again in the ice-pop molds. Not exactly gourmet!

Now pint-sized foodies are enjoying paletas (even the new name is fancy) made with on-trend, healthy ingredients like coconut, avocado, Greek yogurt, almond milk, even kale. And, while we were absorbing all sorts of plastic by-products, you can now buy BPA-free plastic molds and stainless steel molds. It’s amazing how far we’ve come!

Interested in making some yourself? A Google or Pinterest browse will supply you with a summer full of healthy frozen kids snack ideas. Here are two ideas to get you started. For the recipes, all the steps are the same:

  1. Combine ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into the paleta molds.
  4. Freeze.
  5. ENJOY!

Blueberry-Kale Home-Made Ice Pops

You really need to blend this recipe well, otherwise the kale pieces are quite big which I found unpleasant (and I love kale). The kale is never truly hidden in these, but when well-blended, it’s an enjoyable part of their texture.

1 cup frozen blueberries 1 cup kale leaves, stems removed (ideally baby kale leaves) 2 cups coconut water

Raspberry-Almond-Coconut Home-Made Ice Pops

A luscious, dairy-free recipe!

1.5 cups almond milk 1/2 cup coconut milk 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries 2 teaspoons honey pinch of salt

Combine your favorite fruits with other healthy ingredients for a delicious and refreshing summertime paleta treat!

Get more home-made ice pop recipes here.

Food Rewards - How to Get Your Child to Behave Without Them

Food Rewards

I was happy to meet Julie recently. She's a child behaviour and discipline specialist. As soon as I met her I knew that she would be the perfect person to answer a question that parents often ask me. You see, I teach (based on the research) that it's not good to use food as a bribe or reward for kids behaviour. So parents would ask me for alternatives. And that's where I hit the end of my expertise - I'm a child-feeding expert - not a child behaviour expert. Read on to see what Julie recommends as alternatives to food for teaching kids to have good behaviour.

Enjoy! Kristen

  • Chocolate to stop crying.
  • Dessert if you finish all of your dinner.
  • Candy to buy a few extra minutes of peace & quiet.

Why Food Rewards Are A Bad Idea

Parents give food rewards to their children because it works……for the short term, plain and simple. However, the long term effects on the child may include poor appetite management, low self-esteem and distorted food control because they have now associated food with negative behaviour and/or pain. This learned behaviour could possibly leave your child with a potential food addiction which can carry right on through the teen years and well into adulthood.

There are many other ways to encourage your children to do what you expect of them without bribes, threats or rewards. Add more options to your Parenting toolbox so you are not left with food rewards as your only option.

5 of our BEST BEHAVIOUR Techniques (Without Food Rewards)

  1. Expectations & Routines – create routines throughout the day with your expectations in them
  2. Visuals – create a chart, poster or picture for each routine & reference them throughout the day
  3. Choices – offer your child at least 2 things to choose from instead of just demanding something
  4. Follow through – what you say…..you do!
  5. Consistency - say & do the same thing each and every time the same behaviour shows up

Try all 5 together for the BEST RESULTS!

Find out more on this topic and many others at www.missbehaviour.ca.

Learn about Julie Romanowski, Mom, Early Childhood Consultant & owner of

Miss Behaviour: parenting coach & consultant service.

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My Mothers' Day Gift to YOU

  PTL+snack secrets sale

With Mothers' Day fast approaching, I was doing some thinking about how I could best be of service to you.

My Snacking Secrets workshop has been a popular workshop for a number of years now. That’s why I recorded it as my first online seminar. But I hadn’t given it live, in-person for about a year, until I was invited to facilitate it for parents at a preschool last month. All the Moms were really engaged participants. Several of them contacted me afterwards to let me know how much they got out of the workshop.

There was my answer right in-front of me - a fantastic way to celebrate Mothers’ Day is by offering a BONUS of complimentary access to my online seminar version of

 Snacking Secrets: How to Plan Healthy Snacks that Your 2-5 year old Will Eat (Without Ruining Their Dinner)

 that you can participate in at any time that’s convenient for you – without having to find a babysitter or leave home, when you get my guide e-book

 Provide, Trust, Love (Then Introduce New Foods):

A step-by-step system for transforming your child from picky eater to food-confident kid

~2-5 year old edition ~

 

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  • Meal planning to make sure your kids are getting the nutrition they need
  • And much more…

 

In online seminar Snacking Secrets you get:

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My Position on Gluten-Free

my position on gluten-free About a month ago I was interviewed by a blogger about my position on the gluten-free trend. As is always the case, the blogger used some of what we talked about. A reporter can never use everything that an interviewee says – there just isn’t enough space in a post/story. I didn’t feel that my quotes used in her piece fully covered my position. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I was misquoted. I just thought that I would take the opportunity to write an article sharing (and explaining) my full position.

Perhaps you can call me old and jaded but I studied nutrition at university for 8 years and I’ve practiced as a dietitian for over 10 years. I’ve seen many trends come and go, like the low cholesterol trend, the low fat trend, Atkins, soy being an all powerful super food, soy being evil, and more. Gluten-free is the current trend.

First, as you’ve already realized, I do believe that it’s a trend. As such, it will have its time and then pass on (and another trend will come along).

However, saying that it’s trend doesn’t mean that I think it’s all junk.

Quite the opposite, celiac disease is real and it’s serious. The medical community is finding more people who have celiac disease. What’s not clear is whether it’s truly on the rise or whether they’re just doing a better job of finding people who have celiac disease through better diagnostic tests and a better understanding of the disease.

In addition, there are also people who have gluten sensitivities. In fact I’m one of them. If I eat more than a serving or two of a gluten-containing grain then I get hives.

I don’t, however, think that everyone needs to avoid gluten. Or that’s it’s inherently unhealthy. Or, that it’s the cause of the gazillion things of which it’s been accused.

If you’ve been wondering if your family should go gluten-free, or if your family should be eating more gluten-free foods, here’s the positives to take advantage of and the traps to avoid.

 

Gluten-Free Positives:

  • Inspiration to Try New Grains: Human beings are omnivores. We thrive on eating a variety of foods. Often people think that they’re eating a variety of grains, but eating wheat-based cereal, toast, flour tortillas, crackers and pasta are all just different shapes of wheat. Wheat was out of balance in many people’s eating habits. I like that the gluten-free trend is inspiring people to try new grains. After all there’s a huge variety out there: rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley, oats, teff, millet, amaranth, corn, buckwheat, and more.
  • Better Gluten-Free Products: In the past, gluten-free products were difficult to find and many tasted awful. With the trend creating a market, more companies are creating delicious gluten-free products which is awesome for people with celiac disease!

 

Gluten-Free Traps to Avoid:

  • Gluten-free = Healthy: There’s a marketing term called the “health halo”. It means that the public will mistakenly think that an unhealthy food a food is healthy by a false association. Right now, people are equating “gluten-free” with “healthy”, when in fact it’s not necessarily true. A gluten-free brownie is still not a health food. Hey, if you want to eat a brownie, go ahead. Just don’t be tricked into thinking that it’s a health food. I know that I’m being obtuse with this brownie example. But I see intelligent people falling for the health halo all the time. Food products made with highly processed (gluten-free) flours, lots of sugar, high in salt, and/or few nutrients such as cakes, cookies, breads, cereals, crackers, candy, chocolate, and chips are not a healthy choice.  Recognize and enjoy them for the treats that they are.
  • Include Sources of Iron and Folic Acid: Wheat flour is fortified with folic acid in Canada and many common foods, e,g, bread and cereal, are fortified with iron in Canada. Most gluten-free substitutions are not fortified. If you eat a lot of wheat-based grain products and are thinking about including more non-wheat grains, be sure that you’re eating other sources of iron and folic acid. Iron-rich foods include beans, lentils, tofu, nuts and nut butters, meat, poultry, seafood, egg yolks, black strap molasses, iron-fortified baby cereals, (and cooked spinach has some iron). Folic acid is found in dark, leafy greens, beans, lentils, corn and oranges. Note: it’s recommended that all girls and women from their first period through menopause take 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of folic acid from a supplement. Most multivitamins for women contain this.

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More Super Smoothies (for Picky Eater Kids)!

smoothies picky eater kids It happened again yesterday. I was leading a workshop and a parent asked me: “Is it wrong to give my child smoothies with veggies in them? Is this considered hiding veggies?” Rarely a workshop goes by without a parent asking me about smoothies for their picky eater kids. They’re such a popular trend these days. While I touched on this in last week’s blog post; it’s such a common question that I get about healthy snacks for kids that I thought that it was worthwhile to expand on it today. And, share some ideas for smoothie ingredients.

I think that smoothies are a great way to provide vegetables, fruit, protein, and healthy fats for kids. BUT there are a couple of key points to follow to be using them to role model healthy eating and support your child to try new foods on their own:

  1. Don’t lie about the ingredients. This is when you start veering into the “hiding” territory. If you’re waking up at 2am to puree foods so that your child doesn’t know that they’re in a smoothie, then you’ve strayed in the wrong direction. This doesn’t mean that you have to read out to your child a list every last ingredient in a smoothie. But don’t deny a food’s existence. Having your child help make the smoothie (like I suggested last week) is a great way for them to know what’s in it.
  2. Continue to serve “obvious” vegetables (and eat them yourself). Yes, even if your child doesn’t eat them, you’re role modeling choosing to eat vegetables. You’re teaching an important life lesson that I promise is sinking in (even if the vegetables aren’t getting eaten currently).

As I mentioned above, smoothies are a great way to provide vegetables, fruit, protein and healthy fats in a way that many picky eaters will actually eat. Here are some ingredient ideas. Note that some of the ingredients (e.g. nuts) require a higher-powered blender. Mix and match the ingredients to find combinations that you love. And don’t’ be afraid to experiment to find new favs. My new favourite is pistachio-mint-banana, which I was introduced to while on vacation in California last month!

Smoothie Ingredients - Vegetables:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Avocado (also helps a smoothie be creamy)
  • Carrot (I find carrot that’s already grated to blend better than larger pieces)

Smoothie Ingredients - Fruit (choose fresh or frozen fruit instead of juice):

  • Banana (also helps a smoothie be creamy)
  • Berries of any kind
  • Peaches
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Orange
  • Kiwi

Smoothie Ingredients - Protein:

  • Yogurt
  • Cashews (or cashew butter)
  • Ground almonds (or almond butter)
  • Peanut butter
  • Pistachios
  • Pumpkin seeds (or pumpkin seed butter)
  • Hemp hearts

Smoothie Ingredients - Healthy Fats:

  • See all the nut and seed ideas above (including hemp hearts)
  • Avocado
  • Flax oil (or ground flax seeds)
  • Hemp oil
  • Fish oil
  • Vitamin D drops

Other tasty ingredients (that pack more of a taste punch than a nutritional punch):

  • Dates
  • Mint
  • Cocoa powder

Looking for more ideas? Check out the recipe for my Sunshine Smoothie (Orange-Pineapple-Fresh Turmeric) or these green smoothies.

A Super Way to Introduce Kids to the Kitchen: Smoothies

smoothies You’ve probably heard that it’s great to get your kids to help you in the kitchen to learn cooking skills, instill healthy eating habits, and more.

 

When I’m talking with moms and dads they often tell me one of two things about this:

  1. It sounds like a great idea. But they just can’t imagine how to make it happen when they think about the amount of work and the mess.
  2. Yes, they bake with their kids sometimes.

 

This is another great example of us health folks meaning one thing and parents hearing another.

 

Now don’t get defensive or let your mommy guilt kick in. I’m taking ownership of the miscommunication happening here.

 

When I mean “cook with your kids” I mean “get your kids involved in making healthy foods”.

 

I’m not against baking with kids. It’s fun too. Just don’t limit yourself to baking.

 

Invite your kids into the kitchen to help with simple, everyday tasks.

 

Choose one simple task for them to help with. Examples include:

  • Washing veggies
  • Measure out the dry quinoa/ rice and water
  • Spinning and tearing up the lettuce for a salad
  • Setting the table
  • Placing dirty dishes in the dishwasher
  • Smoothies

 

Smoothies are also a fantastic way to get kids in the kitchen:

  •  They’re something that they can make from start to finish.
  • They’re quick and relatively mess-free.
  • They include healthy ingredients.
  • I’ve never met a child who doesn’t LOVE to push the buttons on machines (from cell phones to elevators to blenders).

And, while sometimes parents confess to me that they “hide” foods in smoothies (e.g. kale, spinach), it’s not “hiding” when your kids are the ones putting the ingredients in the blender! They’re simply helping make a tasty dish that includes healthy ingredients!

Do you involve your kids in making smoothies? What are your favourite smoothie combinations? I'd love to hear from you (comment below)!

Can I give finger foods if my baby doesn’t have teeth yet?

finger-foods-if-baby-doesnt-have-teeth-yet {Guest Post at Love Child Organics Both in workshops and when providing in-home child feeding sessions, I’m often asked this question: "Can I give finger foods if my baby doesn’t have teeth yet?

The short answer is: yes! You don’t need to wait until little ones have teeth before feeding them finger foods.

Babies are ready for finger foods by 7 months, if not before. Many won’t have teeth (or very many teeth) by this age.

Your baby is likely ready for finger foods when you see the following:

  • She can bring food to her mouth using her hand.
  • He can eat thicker purees (the consistency of mashed potatoes).
  • She can sit upright with minimal support.
  • He is very interested in watching people eat and the food on your plate. He May even be grabbing for people’s food, plates, cups etc.

It’s amazing to watch what little ones can handle with their gums. So go ahead and offer finger food versions of a wide variety of foods that your family eats.

Bottom Line: Enjoy watching your little one discover the amazing variety of tastes and textures that food comes in!

For more info on baby food - both purees and Baby-Led Weaning (BLW), check out this blog post.

$14 off! Picky Eater e-book and online seminar + Introducing Solids online seminar

Excited birthday girl. ~ Is finding a way to get your picky eater to try new foods your New Years resolution?

~ Is your baby entering into toddlerhood and you want to do everything you can to prevent them from becoming a picky eater?

~ Are you getting ready to start your baby on solid foods?

 

 

To get your family’s 2014 started on the right foot I’m offering a New Years resolution sale!

Get the evidence-based information you need from the convenience of your own computer or tablet.

To celebrate 2014, both of my online seminars and my guide e-book are $14 off (from now until 7am, January 2nd).

Use coupon code: NY2014 to get your $14 off:

Introducing Solid Foods (4-8 months) Online Seminar: Everything you need to safely meet your baby’s rapidly changing nutrition needs. And, instill a life-long LOVE of healthy eating. Online Seminar.

Snacking Secrets: How to plan healthy snacks that your 2 – 5 year old will eat (without ruining their dinner). Online Seminar.

Provide, Trust, Love (Then Introduce New Foods): A step-by-step solution to transform your child from picky eater to food-confident kid ~2-5 year old edition~ Guide e-Book.

Act now! Use coupon code: NY2014 to get your $14 off before 7am, Jan 2nd.