Saturday, February 27, 2010

Simply Gogurt

I went to the grocery store and was pleasantly surprised to see a new kind of yogurt for kids - Simply Gogurt. Now, I've seen the regular Gogurt before, and wasn't impressed - full of artificial junk and HFCS. This variety is not like that! It is colored with veggie and fruit juice and has real sugar in it.

I tried to find a link to it, but I guess it is so new that they don't have it on there yet. So I took some pics myself. I found it in Food Lion, not sure who else carries it. Yogurt tubes are a great on-the-go option because no spoon is required! You can also freeze them for a nice summer treat.

Edited to add the link to Simply is up now!

P.S. Stoneyfield also makes something similar that is organic. It is just nice to me to see "regular" brands change up their products in a positive way!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

I'm really looking forward to this new show starting 3/26/10 on ABC. Jamie Oliver has been working for years to promote healthy eating habits in children, and I hope this show will have a big impact on our society.

The preview is so disturbing to me, but shows the need for this program and change!

Cuties coupon!

My kids LOVE mandarin oranges/clementines. They can peel them themselves (which I know is part of the charm), they are seedless, and super sweet and healthy! They are easy to stick in lunches too!

Here is a coupon for $1 off a crate of them...catch them on sale at your grocery store and you'll have a great deal!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why we avoid MSG

Healthy eating is just as much about avoiding certain foods/additives as it is making sure you eat enough of the right foods, so from time to time I'm going to include reasons we don't eat certain things.

 Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer added to many packaged, processed foods to make them taste better (Chinese restaurants are known to use it, but many others do as well - ask!). While some people can consume it in moderation with no negative side effects, others are very sensitive to it and may not even know it. MSG has been know to cause anxiety, depression, migraines, rashes, nausea, heart palpitations, and much more.Some studies have found it to contribute to obesity and even heart problems, cancer, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.

Read the labels when buying canned food (like soups), seasoning packets (such as taco seasoning), packaged meals (such as Hamburger Helper), frozen dinners, salad dressings, bottled sauces, broths and bouillons, etc. You'll find that many of them contain MSG.

The best way to avoid it? Make your food from scratch as often as possible and know exactly what you're putting in your family's bodies.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Two good coupons!

Healthy food coupons! 

$1.50 off 2 Kashi TLC bars (scroll through until you find it)

$1.00 Quaker Oatmeal

Hey, every penny counts...right?

Fed up with school lunches?

Thank you to my friend Elizabeth for pointing me toward this incredible blog. A teacher believed that school lunches weren't providing students with the nutrition they need and deserve, and therefore they aren't able to pay attention in the classroom. She has taken it upon herself to give up her normal nutritious lunches to eat school lunch every day in 2010, blog about it, and post pictures.

Fed Up: School Lunch Project
(I encourage you to read it all from the beginning!)

I hope her experiment will be a wake up call for parents and school systems. Let's not feed our children this processed junk! Advocate for healthier lunches (and breakfasts) in the school system - write letters, make phone calls, go to school board meetings etc. In the meantime, pack their lunch! Food is fuel, and our kids deserve the best.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breakfast = the most important meal of the day!

I really hate marketing aimed at children, and I try to avoid it by only letting my kids watch TV or movies without advertising. But it is hard to avoid all forms of marketing, so I've tried to teach my kids that if a company is trying to convince a kid that they need something, it is more than likely JUNK (whether it be food or toys).

OK, that seemed really off topic, but it seems breakfast foods are one of the most highly marketed products to kids (or maybe it just seems that way to me because my kids watch cartoons during breakfast time). But I rarely see anything advertised that isn't glorified candy. For instance, one frosted blueberry Pop-Tart contains 17 grams of sugar (and a list of ingredients a mile long). Your kids would be just as well off eating Oreos! A lot of popular kids cereals have about 12+ grams of sugar in them as well.

Breakfast is the meal that gets you going for the day and gives you the fuel you need to get going. Sending a child to school with a tummy full of empty calories and sugar is not going to help them do their best at school or have a healthy body. There are plenty of quick and healthy options that can fill your child up properly and still get you out of the door quickly. Here are some things that our kids have for breakfast on school days (we try to always incorporate whole grains, dairy, protein, and fruit):

-Whole grain toast or English muffin with natural peanut butter/soy nut butter
-Whole grain bagel with light cream cheese
-Whole grain cereals (we love Kashi, and they even have a cereal with kids in mind
-Whole grain waffles/pancakes
-Light cottage cheese
-Healthy cereal/granola bars
-Cream of Wheat

Start their day out right and send them to school ready to focus and learn!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why we avoid artificial sweeteners

I've never had a good feeling about consuming artificial sweeteners. From my understanding, they were developed to give an alternative to people with conditions such as diabetes, not for the average person to use (I feel the same way about formula - it was designed for mothers/children with no other options). I am thankful they exist for those who truly need it, but I don't think most people should use them on a regular basis. Especially kids!
It may be easy to assume that it is ok to give your children diet soda because it doesn't have any calories, but many doctors believe that aspartame and sucralose are not safe for children. Many products geared toward children, such as yogurt, ice cream, popsicles, juices, and cereal (watch for the word "light" or "sugar free"), contain artificial sweeteners, so read the labels!

Plus, by giving our kids the green light to consume these products, they are training their taste buds to prefer the taste of artificially sweet foods instead of the natural sweetness that comes with fruits and vegetables. If you need a sweetener in a liquid form, try local honey!

In my heart and through much personal research, I feel much better about letting my children have a little bit of real sugar here and there rather than giving them artificial ingredients that could have a much more damaging effect.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A survey with my kids

Out of curiosity, I'm asking Grayson (6) and Harper (3) a lot of questions about food and will type their answers as they give them. Here we go...

1. What is your favorite food?
G - Beans & biscuits (I'll have to post the recipe for this sometime)
H- Spaghetti

2. What food is the healthiest for you, and why?
G- Strawberries because they are sweet and they grow from a plant.
H - Spaghetti because it is so good.

3. What food do you think is most unhealthy?
G - Fried chicken because fried is not healthy.
H - Gummies because I don't know.

4. What foods make you grow big and strong?
G - Grapes, watermelon, kiwi, mangoes, and corn.
H - Spaghetti (do we see a trend here???) and salad.

5. What kind of food do we just have sometimes?
G - Food from Burger King
H- Bacon and biscuits

6. What is your favorite vegetable?
G - Beets
H - Carrots

7. What is your favorite fruit?
G -  Mango
H  - Blueberries

8. What is your favorite meal to have for breakfast?
G -Orange juice, pancakes, and an apple
H - Milk, pancakes, blueberries

9. What is your favorite meal to have for lunch?
G - Tomato soup
H - Peanut butter & jelly sandwich

10. What is your least favorite food?
G -  Grits
H - Mashed potatoes
(aren't they Southern??)

The End!

(awkward Christmas card picture reject!)

Friday, February 19, 2010

I need your ideas!

I'm having such a great time doing this blog, and I've gotten so much positive feedback from it! Thanks to everyone who is actually reading!

If you have anything in particular you'd like me to write about, let me know. I'm happy to share my thoughts and ideas on almost any subject dealing with kids, eating, food, and nutrition.  I want to know what you want to know...thanks in advance!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Really good Kashi coupon!

Click here to get a printable $1.50 off  coupon for Kashi Heart to Heart cereal or crackers! Thanks to Money Saving Mom!

Cooking with your kids

Some of my favorite childhood memories involve cooking with my Mema. She was patient with me, and taught me so much. Even when there appeared to be nothing to eat, she could whip up a meal out of what she had. She didn't care if I messed up something and had to start over, and she didn't care how much of a mess I made in the process. She let me experiment with some very odd ingredients as well! I learned so much from her, and I hope I can give my kids at least a little of what she gave me.

I believe that cooking with your children is a great way to get them to eat. If they are invested in what is on their plate, they are going to be more willing to try it. Talking about the ingredients as you use them is a great way to discuss their nutritional value. Plus, they get to take pride in creating something yummy! My 6 year old son loves making little things all by himself - sandwiches, toast, pouring his own beverages, etc. My 3 year old daughter loves to help me stir and add pre-measured ingredients.

So get in the kitchen with your kids and cook - they might teach you a little something too. :)


Meal shown above: Skillet Enchilladas
1 lb. lean ground beef or shredded chicken
1/4 - 1/2 chopped onion (I eyeball this)
Taco seasoning - chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper, onion powder (whatever does it for you)
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheese
1/4 cup light sour cream
4-5 whole wheat tortillas, cut into small pieces (I use a pizza cutter)

-Brown ground beef and onions together, and drain any excess fat
-Add in tomatoes and seasonings and cook for 5 minutes
-Add in remaining ingredients and cook for 5-10 more minutes, or until tortilla pieces are very soft
(If mixture is too thick, add in a little water at a time to thin out. I usually end up adding about 1/2 cup of water)

*You can also add any other Mexican ingredients you want - corn, black beans, etc. Beans are a great substitute for the meat if you want to make it a vegetarian meal.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

REWIND ... Baby food!

I feel blessed that I have two very good eaters, but I truly don't think it was just luck that made them that way. I certainly can't prove it, but I think a lot of it has to do with how I fed them as babies.

First of all, I breastfed them both until they were 18 months old, which means the taste of my milk was effected by what I was eating (unlike formula, which always tastes the same). They tasted a wide variety of foods before ever eating anything!

When it came time to introduce solids, I relied very little on jarred baby food. I think this is how so many kids get hooked on the taste of processed foods. Whatever we had for a meal, I would adapt so my babies could eat it too (within reason). If we were having chicken, I shredded it up into tiny bits. Fresh veggies were pureed or diced very finely. Same with fruit and grains. They tasted food how it was meant to be tasted from a very young age. Think of it this way - jarred applesauce tastes good, but doesn't exactly taste like a fresh apple.

Homemade baby food is not hard or overly time consuming to make, if you need the convenience of making meals ahead of time. A small food processor is very handy to blend the food to the consistency you want. Pureed food is also very easy to freeze and store - just put it in ice trays, freeze, and put the cubes in freezer bags. Simple! You can make whatever combinations you want as well, instead of the same old stuff Gerber offers. Oh - it is also much cheaper! You will be amazed at how much one butternut squash will make!

So start them off right from the beginning, and let those developing taste buds know what good food tastes like! :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The dreaded Burger King Night

Grayson's school has a monthly Burger King Night fundraiser where if you eat at BK that particular night and sign a sheet, BK gives the school a certain percentage of the money they take in. I'm not a fan, but I realize it is an easy way for the schools to make money. I'd rather just write a check to the school for $10 once a month, but they advertise this thing to the kids at school in a way that can't easily be ignored. Whatever. I'm not one to deprive my kids of every experience just because I don't agree with it 100%.

That said, I do try to make the best choices possible when we "have" to go to fast food restaurants. Most kids are going to want the kids meal - the toy just sucks them right in (even if they only play with it for about 15 seconds).

Burger King actually has a pretty informative Web site that allows you to build your meal and see the nutritional value of it. From what I gather, the best kids meal to get would be mac & cheese, apple fries (I ask for it without the caramel dipping sauce), and low-fat milk - a total of 230 calories. Plan ahead of time, and you can make the best choices, even in a not-so-good situation.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Recipe: Chicken Loaf

I got a meat grinder attachment for Christmas for my fabulous Kitchenaid mixer, and I'm a little bit obsessed with grinding my own meat now. It is so quick and easy to do, and I save a lot of money by buying meat when it is on sale and grinding it fresh. Plus, it is a strange stress reliever! :)

I've been trying out new recipes lately using ground chicken breasts, something I don't have too much experience with. Saturday night, I made a chicken loaf. I doubled the recipe so I'd have leftovers, and I used whole wheat stuffing and ketchup and bbq sauce without HFCS to make it a little more healthy.

The kids LOVED it. Couldn't get enough of it. It will definitely be added to the meal rotation!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Annoying commercial #3

Nice try Corn Refiners Association! Why couldn't this mom serve 100% juice/juice boxes, water, milk, lemonade...anything but the mystery "red" drink?

Most all processed foods have High Fructose Corn Syrup in them, and it is making our society fat. We are being fed this processed form of sugar because it is CHEAP. Popular sodas, juices/juice boxes, yogurt, ketchup, ice cream, salad dressing, bread, cereal, cookies, pancake syrup, etc. are very like to contain HFCS - read the labels!

Here is a good article to get more information. If you google HFCS, you'll find tons of reasons not to consume it on a regular basis. It can be difficult to avoid, but highly worth it. Your gut will thank you.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Valentine's (or anytime) Treat

For his Valentine's party at school, Grayson really wanted to take some sort of candy to share with his class. He was in luck - I have a HUGE stash of "healthy" lollipops! YummyEarth Organic makes all-natural lollipops with no HFCS and no artificial anything - they use real sugar and real flavorings. These suckers tastes like the real deal - grape tastes like a grape and not "purple." And they have more exotic flavors than your standard lollipop like mango, pomegranate, and blueberry.

These things are always on sale - I got 10 lbs for $18 a few months ago, and now I always have them on hand for holidays, birthday parties, etc. Watch for deals and they end up being cheaper than regular lollipops! I hope his class enjoys them as much as we do!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Pot Dinner

Who has time to wash a lot of dishes? I know we don't. I try to use as few pots & pans as possible when making dinner, so we end up eating a lot of one pot dinners where everything is mixed up together.

Last night's dinner was...hmmm...I don't really have a name for it! Here's the recipe:

1 lb. lean ground beef (I try to buy 93% when it is on sale and stock up, or I grind my own) - brown and drain any excess fat
1 pack Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Medley Vegetable Harvest
1 bag Steamfresh Rice & Mixed Veggies
1 small can tomato sauce
Whatever seasonings you want (last night, I used chili powder, onion powder, salt and pepper)

Ok, so it doesn't look pretty. But, the whole meal takes about 15 minutes and is healthy and easy! Cheap too - about $5 for a meal for 4. And, the kids gobble it up!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Learn 'em young!

When kids are small, parents are responsible for the food they eat. But at some point, you have to send them off to make their own choices, and hope you've done a good job preparing them. It is important to to teach kids WHY they need to eat healthy and make smart choices for themselves.

I really like this book by Dr. Sears, Eat Healthy, Feel Great. It does a great job of explaining green light, yellow light, and red light foods in a way that kids can understand.

The USDA also has a great food pyramid designed just for kids.

I don't think it is ever too early to teach kids about making wise food choices, and how the choices we make effect our health and body (good and bad). It is our responsibility as parents to make sure they don't head into adulthood with bad habits and lack of knowledge.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We Heart Kashi, AAF!

I can't say enough good things about Kashi products. They are healthy and contain wholesome ingredients, are available just about anywhere, the kids love it, and I can always find coupons and free samples. What's not to like?

A few of our favorites:
TLC Cereal Bars 
GOLEAN Crunch Cereal (Harper loves this mixed with yogurt and fruit)
Heart to Heart Warm Cinnamon Cereal (Grayson's favorite)
Whole Grain Pilaf Sides
Waffles (I can't find these in So Bo anymore. Boo!)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Annoying commercial #2

Your kids don't like "regular" food? Just give them Pediasure. No worries, they can live on a liquid diet for the rest of their life.

Friday, February 5, 2010


We're having another stuck-at-home snow day, and the kids are enjoying a movie and popcorn. Of course, there is healthy and unhealthy popcorn, so it is important to read the labels! We really like Orville Redenbacher's Natural. It comes in several yummy flavors, and it is a whole grain food!

And no complaints from the peanut gallery...
P.S. Grayson is suffering from a major cowlick lately! LOL!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Weeknight dinner - quick & easy!

If you are like me, you have very little time (and energy) in the evenings to prepare a gourmet meal for your family. It is super easy to prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal in a short amount of time. I make a dinner every night, usually in under 30 minutes.

Last night we had:
BBQ chicken sandwiches on whole wheat buns*
Annie's Deluxe Mac & Cheese
Steamfresh Mixed Veggies

*Take a pack of boneless chicken breasts, throw them in the crock pot with bbq sauce (we prefer Sauer's, watch for HFCS!), turn on low and cook all day. Should fall about and shred easily.

I think Grayson liked it! :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yes, I give my kids treats!

Just because I "preach" nutrition in kids doesn't mean I never let my kids indulge in a sweet treat! When giving them goodies, I do try to do it the best way I can. Instead of buying pre-made sweets, I make my own from scratch as often as possible.

For instance, a Little Debbie brownie has a long list of ingredients that include preservatives and artificial colors/flavors. I can make my own from scratch, and I can recognize and pronounce all of the ingredients, they taste better, and they have less fat/calories per serving!

Cookie dough is easy to make in large batches and freeze for future use. Instead of buying packaged cookies full of junky ingredients, I like to make whole wheat chocolate chip cookies.YUM!

The list goes on and on - making almost anything from scratch is better than buying it pre-made, and me makes me feel a little better about indulging the kids every now and then.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What are my kids drinking?

What my kids are drinking is almost as important to me as what they are eating. You can drink away hundreds of calories and tons of sugar a day if you aren't paying attention. My kids are allowed three beverages - water, milk, and watered-down juice.

Water is the obvious one. We should all drink it, including the little ones. It seems to be the one most parents find their kids want the least, but the habit needs to start early! In between meals, the kids are allowed to have water (which both of them can fix themselves - yay!).

As for milk, we stick with organic skim. I can't afford to buy as much organic groceries as I would like, plus they aren't readily available in our small town, but milk is an important one for many reasons. I have no desire for my children to ingest nasty chemicals and growth hormones if they don't have to.

We are pretty picky about the juices we pick. ALWAYS 100% juice - you have to read the labels because so many "juices" contain added sugars and artificial garbage. I mainly buy the varieties that have vegetable juices blended in as well, such as V8 Fusion and Juicy Juice Harvest Surprise. While most juices are only high in vitamin C, these juices have a lot of Vitamin A and other nutrients as well because they use carrots, sweet potatoes, etc. I water them down because while they are 100% juice, they still have a lot of natural sugar in them. Real fruit is always the best way to get your daily intake!

Monday, February 1, 2010


I prefer that the kids get their vitamins and nutrients from their natural sources (healthy food!), but I give the kids two vitamins a day just in case we fell short - a multi-vitamin and an Omega-3 supplement. I really like the Li'l Critters brand because they don't use HFCS or artificial colors/flavors. You can find this brand at Target, and the kids love them!