Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Hummus is a pureed bean dip.

My new favorite thing is this box of 16 individually packed containers of delicious smooth hummus. I found it at Costco after being tipped off by Corrine and Erika, 2 ladies at my husbands work, and my friends :). I packed them in my kids lunch with a few crackers, and I love to eat them with a handful of carrots. Bonus for the adults who are watching their calories .. . . each pack has 100 calories! Bonus for everyone . . . there are 2 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein in there too.

If you can't find these handy packs at your Costco, or if they just don't fit into the family budget, try this recipe. It will cost you less than $2!

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 C. tahini (I leave this out)
1/4 C. olive oil
1/4 C. water
3 T lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
Cayenne pepper.

Mix it all up in your blender, or food processor. Yummy!

(Tastes best after you refrigerate it for a bit)

Also click here to see my fiber post. There is a link to a black bean hummus recipe and some info on other ways to get your kids to eat beans.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Artwork on a Plate

My twins got new plates for Christmas from Grandma and Grandpa. They are these cute ones with adjustable little bowls that hang on the sides of the plates. I didn't think much about it, but after using the plates a few times (and after they stopped dumping the food on their plates onto the floor), I noticed how much more they ate when I fed them from those plates. I think it was just so much more interesting to them to have 3-4 foods/textures/colors separated out into these interesting shapes. When they get bored with one food, their eyes are drawn to another food that is on their "art pallet". These plates are by a company called Boon. Click here to see a description of the plate. Remember the studies they did with how they had people start eating food under light that made the food look good, and then they changed the lighting and the food looked blue and green and kinda old, even though it was just fine? And then people starting to get sick to their stomaches. This is how powerful our eyes can be with what we eat. So next time you are feeding your children, take a little bit of time to make the food look like artwork . . . it may tempt them to eat the healthy foods you give them.

The better Spaghetti Sauce

This idea comes from my sister-in-law Joelle. She has spaghetti once a week. Each time she makes the sauce, she starts with some canned tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs, and then she adds some extra veggies, like steamed cauliflower and broccoli, or fresh spinach and carrots. After her 5 kids are done eating their spaghetti, they get to guess what the surprised veggies were. They love guessing, and love the taste of the pureed up veggies. I am definitely trying this next week! (we had spaghetti stoup last night, another recipe I got from Joelle).

Canned Crushed tomatoes
Herbs (I am guessing basil, oregano, crushed red pepper . . .)

Blend it all up in your blender. Then add a couple of bonus veggies and blend it up too. Heat the sauce on the stove top for a few minutes, and you are done.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

High-Fructose Corn Syrup

For about 5 years I have been avoided buying food that is made with high-fructose corn syrup. In the beginning, this was very difficult. It was in everything! I slowly got rid of the fruit snacks (except for at church and car trips :) and I even gave up my favorite cold cereal, Frosted Mini Wheats. :( Now it is so much easier to find food without HFCS in them. If you give up a favorite food, check on it every 6 months or so. Eggo waffles used to have it in them, and now they have the whole grain ones without the HFCS. I haven't bought Yoplait yogurt for years because they have HFCS, but Dannon yogurt does not have it. I found that I really like the taste of Dannon's yogurt better. It reminds me of the yogurt in Europe.

So now the big question is, why is HFCS so bad for you? Well, I am going to quote Dr. Oz, because I really liked his explanation the best. "High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a type of sugar that has been processed and combined with corn syrup to produce a cheap, easily dissolvable sweetener. But this sugar is quickly absorbed by the liver where it is converted into fat. Since your brain doesn't recognize HFCS as regular food, it never shuts off the appetite center -- so you keep eating. Blood sugar levels rise, massive amounts of insulin is recruited to metabolize it and then you crash and feel hungry again. It is found in soft drinks, fruit juices, salad dressings and baked goods. Read the food labels of products in your pantry and refrigerator and throw out all products that contain HFCS."

Another reason that it is so common in our food supply is because we have so much corn in this country. We have genetically mastered corn to give us a lot for only a little bit, plus, the government pays corn farmers to farm corn (I am not really sure why). We can sell the corn in the US for cheaper than they can sell it in Mexico. Mexico buys it from us. This is all according to the movie Food Inc. Click here to see the trailer.

The graph below shows that HFCS may have something to do with obesity in America.

You would avoid HFCS simply by eating whole foods (fresh fruits and veggetables, milk, cheese, meat, potatoes, quinoa, rice, beans and so on). Most processed foods have HFCS in them. Just read the label to see if your foods have it in there. Be sure to check your bread, cold cereal, ketchup, and salad dressings. If it is an organic food, then it won't have it in there (at least I have never seen this).

Here are a few of my favorite foods that are free of HFCS.

Bush's Baked beans. These are high in sugar, but they are free of HFCS and are full of fiber and protein.

Pacific organic roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Check the tomato soup in your pantry right now. Does it have HFCS in it?

Kashi's TLC (Tasty Little Chewies) Cherry Dark Chocolate Granola Bars. Everyone in my family loves these granola bars. If you have Quaker granola bars in your pantry right now, check it out; there is HFCS in those too! Be warned now, I have tried many of the other Kashi granola bar flavors, and the Cherry Chocolate one is still the only one we like. Also, they can be pricey, so buy them when they are on sale. This happens quit a bit.

Hope this helps you in your quest for you and your kids to be healthier, and happier.

What are some of your favorite alternative brands to those that have HFCS?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kid and Mother approved Breakfast

Kashi Strawberry Waffles with 100% Real Maple Syrup, Thinly Sliced Bananas, Whipped Cream and Cinnamon.

I really do love the Kashi Frozen Waffles. Remember the post I did on them with the homemade strawberry syrup? This morning we had them a little different.

1 Kashi Frozen Strawberry Waffle (4 g protien, 3 g fiber , 80 calories, 2.5 g sugar, 500 mg Omega-3)

1/4 of a banana thinly sliced on top of the waffle after it is toasted. (20 Calories)

1 Tablespoon 100% Real Maple Syrup (Best price at Costco --- 50 Calories)

1 Squirt Canned Whipped Cream (20 Calories)

Sprinkle of cinnamon- to see my post on cinnamon, click here.

My kids each had 2 of these this morning (so did I).

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Other Side Of The Rainbow

Since last week I did a blog post on food coloring, I thought this week I would focus on the other side of the rainbow of colors. . . Fruits and Vegetables! The biggest part of this post is HOW to get your kids to eat fruit, and most of all VEGETABLES!

1. Your kids will not eat what is not given to them. Sounds simple, but we all need to remember that if our children are not given the opportunity to try a certain vegetable, then you are depriving them of the opportunity to know if they like it or not. Be sure that when you go to the store, you are buying fruits and vegetables. Here are some shopping tips.

  • Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruit is great in smoothies and muffins, and frozen vegetables are 100% better than canned!!!!!!!! Frozen fruits and vegetables are often even healthier than fresh because they are picked and frozen right away. This gives frozen f & v less time to lose nutrients, like vitamin C.
  • Buy the fresh fruits and vegetables when they are on sale. You should eat foods in season. They are less expensive and tend to have traveled less (fresher and better for the environment)
  • If you have little ones, let them help you grocery shop. If you are really motivated, you could take the time to do a "field trip" to the grocery store and take the time to look at every fruit and vegetable that they have.
  • Trouble keeping f & v fresh? You should always buy lots of bananas. If they get to brown, peel them and put them in the freezer for a smoothie, or make banana muffins. Pretty much with any fruit, you can freeze it and then stick it in a smoothie later.
2. So now that you have the variety available, you need to be an EXAMPLE and eat the different kinds of fruits and vegetables that you buy. Be sure that your kids understand that they might not like a certain f or v one way, but they still might like to eat it another way. For example, none of my kids like raw tomatoes, but all of them love spaghetti sauce. Also, remind your kids that they might not like a certain f or v right now, but that they might like it another time. Tell them about a kind of food you didn't like, but now love.
If your kids see that you don't "die" or go puke after trying a new food, they will be willing to do the same.

3. Play a Game. One game that has been recommended to me by my friend Jennifer, and my sister- in-law Karenin, is Bingo! We tried this for a week. I printed off a bingo sheet for everyone in the family and filled it in with all the vegetables we were planning on eating that week. Then I filled in any extra spots with fruits that we had on hand. Be sure to put garlic, and onions in there. My kids got really excited about eating new foods. They loved when they found out that a sauce I made had 3 different veggies in it, and all week long they waited for me to make parsnips! Be sure that you keep track too, so that they see how easy it is. I gave my kids one point each time they got a bingo, or they had a whole serving of a fruit or veggie on their bingo card (1/2 Cup). They could either turn their points in for a quarter, or for 5 minutes of extra screen time.

4. Educate them on why f and v are good for them. Kids are a lot like adults. We can have someone tell us one hundred times that something is good or bad for us, but until we understand WHY, we don't listen. Last night Emily wouldn't eat her dinner, so I briefly explain what was good for her about them (spinach has iron in it, and iron helps the oxygen get to all of your body parts, cheese has calcium that makes your bones strong, oranges have vitamin C that helps you get over colds faster, and helps cuts heal faster, avocados have fats in them that help her brain grow). My older kids found the iron fact fascinating and we talked briefly about iron at the dinner table. It shouldn't always be about WHY they are good for you. Food is a social and enjoyable thing, but fun quick facts can be helpful.

Dole has a great website that has lots of fun facts about different fruits and vegetables. Click here for the link. (Really, this is one of the best sites I have found, check it out).

I also enjoy watching Dr. Oz Show while I fold laundry during the day. He always has fun facts and healthy ideas.

5. Three other ways to get them to eat fruits and vegetable:
  • Let them help prepare the food
  • Hide it in the food; puree it up (broccoli does not work well for this, yuck!)
  • Make it look cute. For one idea on this, see my little pizza men post.