6 Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

6 Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

Having enough food for Thanksgiving—or any family get-together for that matter— is something that my Italian-American family always worries about. If it so happened that we didn’t have enough food, it would be downright embarrassing, even a “sin.” Of course, that never happens and in fact, we always have way too much and plenty of leftovers.

If you too, have a refrigerator that’s filled to capacity after the holiday and you’re looking for ways to re-purpose all that turkey, cranberry sauce and the other fixings, here are 6 Thanksgiving leftover recipes to try.

1. Healthy Easy Turkey Pot Pie

With a crispy topping thanks to phyllo sheets, and a warm filling of turkey and vegetables, this Healthy Easy Turkey Pot Pie is one of the best Thanksgiving leftover recipes your kids will love. The best part? It takes only 15 minutes to pull together.

2. Cranberry Sauce Quickbread

I love cranberry sauce but there’s always so much leftover. And besides, how much of it can you really eat?

That’s why I love this recipe for Cranberry Sauce Quickbread. Gluten-free, nut-free and vegan, this bread is a great option for breakfast, brunch, school lunch or after-school snacks.

3. Easy Turkey Soup With Cabbage

If you’re looking for a way to transform leftover turkey into a healthy dinner, this Easy Turkey Soup With Cabbage is perfect. With a mix of herbs and spices, and packed with protein, this soup is a satisfying option to warm you up on cold nights.

4. Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich

This Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich has the best of everything: turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and if you’re so inclined, throw in some lettuce.

5. Copycat Panera Turkey Chili – Instant Pot Recipe

Panera Bread is known for their warm, savory soups and chilis and this Copycat Panera Turkey Chili – Instant Pot Recipe is the perfect way to enjoy it at home. With leftover turkey, simple ingredients and plenty of flavor, you can relax and do some online shopping on Black Friday because dinner will be ready in 15 minutes.

6. Leftover Turkey Dinner Tacos

If you’re looking for a non-sandwich idea for Thanksgiving leftovers, try these Leftover Turkey Dinner Tacos. Pick a hard or soft taco shell, pile in the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy and you have a quick and easy meal over the weekend.

 

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving leftover recipes? Let me know in the comments!

10 Fun Kid Thanksgiving Food Ideas

10 Fun Kid Thanksgiving Food Ideas

     Whether you’ll be hosting or traveling to a family or friend’s home, there’s no doubt that when it comes to food, Thanksgiving is one of the most predictable holidays. You know there’ll be turkey, stuffing and all the fixings, but that doesn’t mean your kid will eat it. The turkey can be tough or dry, the stuffing can have too much going on, and vegetables—well, you know how that usually turns out. Although I don’t recommend opening a box of macaroni and cheese or making a separate meal for your picky eater, there are fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas they’ll love, even if the only other thing they end up eating are dinner rolls and pumpkin pie.

 

 

 FUN KID THANKSGIVING FOOD IDEAS FOR PICKY EATERS

 The holidays are already stressful but holidays with picky eaters are an entirely different ball game. Having kids who snub vegetables and refuse to eat anything other than pasta with butter for example, can kick your stress level into high gear.

You’ll probably worry what your kids will eat, if they’ll eat enough or if they’ll eat at all.

If they do end up trying something new or different like your mother-in-law’s famous casserole, there’s a chance that they’ll spit it out and declare, “ew, gross!”

To make matters worse, well-meaning family members may try to intervene and encourage your kids to “just take a bite,” and “if you want dessert, you have to eat.” Or worse—they may judge your parenting skills and insinuate it’s your fault that your kids are picky eaters. Aren’t the holidays fun?

 

LOOK FOR FUN KID THANKSGIVING FOOD IDEAS TOGETHER

On Thanksgiving, one of the best ways to encourage your kids to try new foods, especially when a lot of the food is different from what what they’re used to, is to get them involved. Search for fun Thanksgiving recipes online, in cookbooks and on Pinterest, or ask friends for recommendations.

 

 

 FUN KID THANKSGIVING FOOD IDEAS: COOK TOGETHER

Once your kids pick out a new dish they want to try, make it together before Thanksgiving when there’s more time and you’ll have more patience.

When my kids and I cook together, they always want to taste what we’ve made and they’re so proud to show it off when we sit down to eat.

When kids take part in cooking, they learn each step of the process, they feel empowered because they had a hand in making the meal, and they’re more likely to be adventurous eaters.

Of course, we all have our own food preferences so if they don’t like something you’ve made together, it’s still not a lost opportunity. It’s just one more chance to push them out of their comfort zones and try new flavors, tastes and textures.

Cooking with your kids is also a great holiday tradition to share together. If you’re looking for a fun way to teach your kids how to cook while building their confidence and creativity, the Kids Cook Real Food online cooking class is now open for enrollment. For a limited time, you can get over $400 worth of content and lifetime access for only $149.95. Get all the details here.

 FUN KID THANKSGIVING FOOD IDEAS

Your Thanksgiving spread can be a mix of traditional foods and kid-friendly foods which can encourage even the pickiest of eaters to enjoy the holiday. Here are 10 fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas to consider.

 

15 MINUTE CRANBERRY BRIE BITES

The combination of flaky puff pastry, melted brie and sweet cranberries is divine in these 15 Minute Cranberry Brie Bites, which are sure to delight any kid. The best thing? They only take 5 minutes to make but it will look like you spent hours in the kitchen.

When it comes to fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas, the more creative the better. With a variety of vegetables and plenty of crunchy texture and color, this Perfect Turkey Veggie Tray for Thanksgiving is great for everyone to munch on before dinner is served. Pair it with hummus, guacamole or your kid’s favorite dip, and you may be surprised at how many veggies he’ll eat.

EASY TURKEY ROLL UPS

If your kid won’t eat turkey, then transform it into something they will recognize. These Easy Turkey Roll Ups are easy to make and with some spinach and sun dried tomatoes, they’re bursting with flavor.

Sweet potatoes and marshmallows—what’s not to love? This Sweet Potato Casserole With Marshmallow and Pecan Streusel is a popular Thanksgiving dish and one of the best fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas. Even better? It only takes 20 minutes to prepare and can be made 2 days ahead of time—sweet.

These Cream Cheese Pinwheels With Fresh Veggies make for a healthy appetizer for little ones who are more interested in making crafts than sitting down to eat. High in protein and fiber, and bursting with flavor, you can feel good about your kids eating them even if they eat nothing else.

 

High in protein and fiber, these festive Best Deviled Eggs For Thanksgiving are sure to be a win for your kids.

 

BAKED CARROT FRENCH FRIES

Who says you can’t serve fries on Thanksgiving? These Baked Carrot French Fries are healthy, sweet and delicious. Serve with or without a dip, either way they make for a great side dish kids will love.

 

Your kids may not like stuffing, but chances are they’ll love these Apple Sage Stuffin’ Muffins. Savory and sweet, they’re perfect for little hands and only take 10 minutes to pull together.

CHEESY LEFTOVER MASHED POTATO MUFFINS

When it comes to feeding picky eaters, small portions are less overwhelming and intimidating for little ones. That’s why these Cheesy Leftover Mashed Potato Muffins are one of the best fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas. With only 4 ingredients, and only 10 minutes to make, they’re the perfect dish to prepare with your kids.

What kid doesn’t love Rice Krispies Treats? These Thanksgiving Rice Krispie Turkey Treats are super-cute and festive, quick and easy, and the perfect addition to your dessert table.

 

What are some of your fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas? Let me know in the comments!

The Complete Guide To Healthy Eating For Kids

The Complete Guide To Healthy Eating For Kids

We all want our kids to eat healthy, try new foods and be adventurous little foodies, but when it comes to finding information about healthy eating for kids, there are so  many sources, you don’t know where to start.

On the one hand, you have experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Then you have countless books, parenting websites and food blogs that have a wealth of kid-friendly recipes meant to encourage healthy eating. Of course, you also have Facebook groups for moms of picky eaters and Instagram influencers serving up picture-perfect school lunch ideas that are almost impossible to replicate.

I think all of these sources can help you raise healthy eaters, but sometimes all you really want is to have all of the information, tips and advice in one place.

So today, I’m serving up evidence-based information and my best strategies in this complete guide to healthy eating for kids.

Healthy eating habits for kids

The healthy eating habits we teach our kids now will set them up for success now and throughout their lives.

Make time for breakfast

The old adage “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” holds true today as it always has.

Kids who eat breakfast everyday have a higher daily consumption of key nutrients such as folate, calcium, iron and iodine than those who skip breakfast, an August 2017 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found.

Eating a healthy breakfast also gives kids the energy and focus they need to get through the day, and they may even do better in school. In fact, a June 2016 study in the journal Public Health Nutrition, which included 5,000 kids, found those who ate breakfast and those who ate a better quality breakfast, were twice as likely to do better in school than those who didn’t.

Eating breakfast is also associated with a lower risk for obesity and serious health conditions. According to a March 2016 study in the journal Pediatric Obesity, kids who ate breakfast at school, even if they already had breakfast at home, were less likely to be overweight or obese than those who skipped the meal.

Some kids don’t like to eat breakfast in the morning, while others simply don’t have the time. If your kid falls into this camp, be sure to read my blog post 7 Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat a Healthy Breakfast.

Serve new foods over and over again

Although parents have the best intentions, we can be one of the biggest obstacles to getting our kids to eat healthy.

Introducing new foods requires that we’re consistent—just like any other desirable behavior we’re working on.

In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it can take between 8 and 15 times of introducing a new food for a child to accept it.

The earlier you put this into practice the better. In fact, a December 2007 study in the journal Food Quality and Preference found that when mothers introduced a vegetable their infants initially disliked, by the 8th day of serving it, their intake of it increased rapidly. By the 8th exposure their intake was similar to that of a vegetable they liked. Nine months later, 63 percent of the infants were still eating the originally disliked vegetable.

Eat meals together—it doesn’t have to be dinner!

Despite after-school activities, doctor’s appointments and errands, the good news is that most families do eat dinner—or other meals—together. According to a 2014 study, 88 percent of families say they eat meals together most days or a few days a week.

Although dinner is usually the meal most families eat together, sharing any meal is one of the best ways to teach kids healthy eating habits.

In fact, a 2011 meta-analysis published in the journal Pediatrics found that children who eat family meals together at least 3 times a week are less likely to be overweight, eat unhealthy foods, have disordered eating and are more likely to eat healthy foods. Sharing family meals together also teaches kids healthy eating habits like mindful eating and of course, manners.

Avoid food rewards

It can be tempting to offer your kids a snack or a treat to get them to behave well in a public place or to get through a doctor’s appointment without tears, for example.

But experts say we shouldn’t rely on food rewards.

According to parenting expert Amy McCready, (her book, If I Have To Tell You One More Time, is a must read for any parent):

“Quit rewarding your kids for behavior you should be able to expect.”

And:

“…you’re doing your child no favor by doling out treats for his accomplishments or behavior. Instead, you’re setting him up for a “What’s in it for me?” attitude down the road.”

When you use food as a reward or as punishment, you’re also teaching your kids that food has power. As adults, they may treat themselves to dinner or a piece of cake after a long, stressful day.

Instead of using food as a reward, give your kid a hug, a high five or a sticker.

Cook with your kids

Teaching kids how to cook and prepare healthy meals is one of the most powerful habits you can teach your kids. According to a 2014 review in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, cooking programs for kids may positively affect their food preferences, attitudes and behaviors.

When you cook with your kids, don’t do it when you’re rushing to get dinner on the table. Leave plenty of time because they’ll inevitably ask questions and spill something.

Depending on your kids’ ages, younger kids can stir, mix and pour while older kids can measure, use appliances and chop ingredients.

If you’re not the greatest home chef or could simply use some pointers, I recommend you take my friend Katie Kimball’s
 Kids Cook Real Food online video eCourse

Pay attention to portions

In addition to feeding kids healthy food, it’s also important to pay attention to portions.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), portion sizes have doubled, even tripled, over the past 20 years. Suffice to say, it’s one of the reasons we’re dealing with a childhood obesity epidemic.

This is something I struggle with in my home, especially because my kids usually ask for seconds.

Although they’re still young, I try to teach them portion control by using measuring cups for example, and by talking to them about what it feels like to be hungry, satisfied and full.

Don’t bribe kids with dessert

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of telling your kids they have to eat their vegetables if they want dessert but experts say this is a habit we should leave behind.

Dina Rose, PhD, author of It’s Not About The Broccoli calls this the “dessert deal.” She says this route teaches kids that vegetables are less desirable than dessert or should only be eaten to get dessert. She suggests re-thinking dessert and offering yogurt, baked fruit or a smoothie instead, for example.

Try to avoid eating on the run

One night, my daughter had back-to-back after-school activities and I let her eat dinner in the car. It was a sandwich and broccoli but I felt so awful about it that I vowed never to do it again.

Suffice to say, many kids eat snacks in the car or are forced to eat on the run because of busy afternoons or mornings. In fact, according to a survey by Barbara’s, 50 percent of kids who eat on the go or in the car skip breakfast at least once a week.

Meals are meant to be enjoyed and shared as a family. Eating in the car or on the run can cause kids to overeat and it teaches them that eating isn’t important—but just another activity to squeeze in that day.

Healthy Eating For Kids: Healthy Food For Kids

Fruits and vegetables

Despite our best efforts, most kids aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. According to a 2014 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6 in 10 children don’t eat enough fruit and 9 in 10 don’t eat enough vegetables.

Yet studies show eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure, balance blood sugar, prevent weight gain and childhood obesity, reduce the risk for eye and digestive problems, heart disease and stroke, and prevent certain types of cancer.

Of course, when kids eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables it lays the foundation for healthy eating throughout their lifetimes.

Protein

Protein is important for your kids’ growth and development and meals with protein keep hunger at bay, balance blood sugar and give your kids the energy they need.

Protein should make up 1/4 of your child’s plate but you’ll want to focus on lean, quality protein sources instead of processed foods like deli meats and cheeses or hot dogs. Try chicken, beef, turkey, beans, edamame, tempeh, eggs and fish.

Plant-based foods

Whether your family is made up of vegetarians, vegans, pegans or full-fledged meat eaters, getting more plant-based foods in your kids’ diet is one of the best things you can do for their health.

Plant-based foods are packed with the nutrition kids need for their growth and development. Most plant-based foods also have filling fiber to satisfy their hunger and prevent constipation.

Recent studies show plant-based diets are linked to a lower risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity. A January 2015 study in the Journal Of Pediatrics found children who followed a plant-based, vegan diet or the American Heart Association diet lost weight, lowered their blood pressure and improved their cholesterol in just four weeks.

Whole grains

Grains should make up 1/4 of your child’s plate. Whole grains have vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and filling fiber, which are stripped from refined grains.

Try whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, quinoa or another type of gluten-free grain.

Fish and seafood

Fish can be a hard sell for kids but the nutrients they contain are those kids need for healthy growth and development, according to the AAP.

Fish and seafood are packed with protein, low in saturated fat, rich in micronutrients, and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support kids’ brain health and memory.

Many types of fish also contain high levels of calcium and vitamin D and some types of shellfish are high in iron, selenium and iodine. Studies suggest consuming seafood may improve neurodevelopment in babies and decrease cardiovascular disease risk.

The FDA and EPA recommend kids eat fish 1 to 2 times a week starting at age 2. Despite its benefits, kids aren’t eating enough fish however, mainly due to concerns over mercury.

Yet salmon, sardines, shrimp and tuna (canned light) are all safe choices.

Related: What Types of Fish Are Safe for Kids?

Healthy fats

The long-standing myth that eating fat causes high cholesterol, heart disease and weight gain has been debunked and we now know that healthy fats are essential to our health and our kids’.

Healthy fats are a vital source of energy and help satisfy kids’ hunger. They’re  essential for healthy cell membranes, they support kids’ brains and the growth and development of their nervous systems, and help their bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. They’re also necessary to make hormones and immune cells and they help regulate inflammation and metabolism.   

While experts agree it’s the trans fats and some saturated fats that should be avoided, foods with healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from whole foods are beneficial. However, it’s important to note that the AAP recommends healthy fats make up no more than 30 percent of kids’ total calories.

Foods To Cut Back On Or Eliminate

When it comes to healthy eating for kids, there are foods you should cut back on or eliminate altogether.

Sugary foods, sweetened drinks, chocolate milk and juice

Diets high in sugar are proven to lead to weight gain and obesity, type-2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and heart disease—all conditions that can follow kids throughout their lives.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend we limit sugar to no more than 10 percent of our total calories for the day.

For kids 2 and older, they should have less than 25 grams of added sugar a day. 

The good news is that even cutting out small amounts of sugar can make a dramatic difference in your child’s health.

According to a February 2016 study in the journal Obesity, obese children who reduced the amount of sugar in their diets but didn’t change the amount of calories they consumed had improvements in their blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL “bad” cholesterol after just 10 days. Researchers also saw significant improvements in their blood glucose and insulin levels.

Juice and sugary drinks are also high in empty calories, sugar, and carbohydrates, and drinking them can lead to weight gain, cavities and diarrhea.

In September, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of  Pediatric Dentistry jointly issued new healthy kids’ drink guidelines for parents, so be sure to check them out.

Processed foods

Most processed foods are loaded with sodium, sugar, saturated fat and artificial ingredients you can’t identify or pronounce. They also lack fiber and the vitamins and minerals kids need in their diets.

Research shows processed foods, but more specifically the sodium, sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, and food additives they contain, are linked to weight gain and childhood obesity, high blood pressure, and mental health and behavioral problems.

But your child’s health now isn’t all you should be thinking about. Eating foods with added sugars and sodium early on can affect their taste preferences, the foods they eat and their health later on in life.

Experts say the more processed foods you eat—and the longer you eat them—the more likely inflammation, leaky gut syndrome and a host of health conditions will crop up in the future.

In fact, a May 2019 study in the journal Cell Metabolism found adults who consumed ultra-processed foods for 2 weeks consumed 500 extra calories than those who consumed unprocessed foods.

Two other recent studies show that consuming ultra-processed foods are linked to a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and death. 

Foods high in sodium

Approximately 90 percent of kids get too much sodium in their diets each day and more than 40 percent of it comes from only 10 foods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which about 3.5 percent of kids already have, according to the AAP. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and vision loss, among other health conditions.

So even if your kids don’t have high blood pressure now, if they continue to eat too much sodium, there’s a good chance they will in the future.

Related: 10 Sneaky Sources of Sodium in Your Kid’s Diet

How To Save Money On Food

If you’re like me, one of the biggest line items next to your mortgage and taxes is the grocery store bill.

According to a recent report by the USDA, most families spend between $130 and $300 a week on food. How much you spend depends on a lot of factors including the part of the country you live in, if you live in the city, the suburbs or a rural area, the size of your family and if you buy organic, conventional or both.

Nevertheless, there are ways to save money on food. Some include:

  • Make a list before you go to the grocery store.
  • Shop at big box stores like Target or membership clubs like Costco.
  • Meal plan.
  • Cut down on food waste.
  • Buy foods in bulk.
  • Shop sales and use cash back apps like Ibotta or FetchRewards.
  • Buy cheap, healthy foods.
  • Eat more plant-based meals.
  • Use your store’s loyalty card.
  • Buy generic instead of brand names.

 

What do you think about this complete guide to healthy eating for kids? Are there tips you find helpful? Let me know in the comments.

How to Get Your Kids To Eat Salad

How to Get Your Kids To Eat Salad

Whether we’re eating out, having dinner with family, or at a special celebration with friends, people are always surprised how my husband and I have been able to get our kids to eat salad—and several other foods most kids won’t touch.

When you consider that most children in the U.S. are picky eaters and don’t love vegetables of any type, I suppose it is surprising.

Of course, getting them to eat salad didn’t happen overnight and there are still days when they’re not into it—just like anybody else. Yet through the years, it’s become something about our meals that they accept and even look forward to.

I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way I can get my kids to eat salad. They hate anything green or healthy.

But stick with me here. Kidsyours included—can grow to love salad.

Not only are there a ton of health benefits, but when it comes to making it kid-friendly and delicious, the possibilities are endless.

Getting your kids to eat salad isn’t as hard as you think—let’s dig in!

Why should I encourage my kids to eat salad?

Serving up salads has a ton of health benefits and teaches healthy habits that will stick with your kids throughout their lives.

A ton of nutrition

According to a 2014 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9 in 10 children don’t eat enough vegetables.

Servings salads is a great way to pack in several fruits and vegetables into one meal and add a ton of nutrition which kids need for their growth and development.

By focusing on a variety of colorful produce like carrots, peppers, cucumbers, radishes and strawberries, kids also get a boost of antioxidants. Antioxidants reduce inflammation, protect cells from the damage of free radicals, boost the immune system and may play a role in preventing disease.

High in fiber

Salads and the vegetables you include are a great source of fiber in your kid’s diet.

Fiber satisfies hunger and helps them to feel fuller longer, which may prevent weight gain. High-fiber foods also balance blood sugar and prevent constipation.

Healthy fats

Offering a salad is also a great way to get healthy fats like those found in avocado, olive oil, and nuts and seeds in your kid’s diet.

Healthy fats are a vital source of energy and help satisfy hunger. They’re essential for healthy cell membranes, they support kids’ brains and the growth and development of their nervous systems, and help their bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Healthy fats are also necessary to make hormones and immune cells and they help regulate inflammation and metabolism.   

Kids have a say in what they eat

Food choices make kids feel empowered and in control—even when you’re the one calling the shots and deciding which foods to buy and when to serve them.

I’d argue that it’s the lack of choices that makes mealtime such a big power struggle with our kids.

Just like Taco Tuesday or pizza night, kids get to choose the ingredients they want in their salads and get to create their own meals.

Puts an end to picky eating

Consistently serving up salads, trying out new fruit and vegetable combinations, and getting your kids involved is one of the best ways to put an end to picky eating.

In fact, according to a 2014 review in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, cooking programs for kids may positively affect their food preferences, attitudes and behaviors.

You may find—as I did—that when you regularly serve salad at home, your kids are more likely to eat it when you go out to eat as well.

Salad is pretty simple to make, but if you’re looking for help preparing healthy meals with your kids,  I recommend the Kids Cook Real Food video eCourse

Salads make for a quick and easy dinner

Salad is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get dinner on the table. In fact, it’s one of the ways I make dinner almost every night while working full time.

Start with your salad greens, add your vegetables, pick a protein—canned salmon and hard boiled eggs are quick options—add a dressing and dinner is done.

Common obstacles to get your kids to eat salad

Despite the benefits of eating salad, there are still challenges you may face.

For starters, raw vegetables—especially when there’s no dip—can be a tough sell for any kid so expecting them to eat a salad can be a tall order.

Another thing to consider is that some kids (and adults!) don’t like when different foods touch on their plates or when foods are mixed together.

If the lettuce and other vegetables are too large, or the portion size is too big, kids will just feel overwhelmed and refuse to eat it.

How to Get Your Kids To Eat Salad

The good news is that there are so many easy, creative ways to encourage your kids to eat—and love—salad.

Start early and model healthy eating

Since food preferences are formed early, the key to encouraging your kids to eat salad is by starting now.

I’ve discovered through the years that eating a salad every day for lunch helps me stay on track. It’s also one of the ways I was able to lose the baby weight after both of my pregnancies.

Since my kids would watch me make a salad, and we would sever it for dinner several times a week, they had a natural curiosity about what we were eating and would often ask to take a bite.

Serve tiny portions and stay consistent

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it can take between 8 and 15 times of introducing a new food for a child to accept it.

The key however, is to serve tiny portions. Kids need to have the freedom to smell, taste and explore foods without feeling pressured. A bite-sized amount therefore, helps them to decide whether they’ll try it or not.

Serve salad in the smallest section of your kid’s plate, or serve it in small plate like a tea-cup saucer. 

Stay consistent and continue to serve small portions at every meal, every day, and eventually your kids may surprise you.

Get your kids to eat salad by picking the right type

I personally don’t like spinach unless it’s blended in a smoothie, and the same goes for our kids.

Taste, texture and overall food preferences are important to keep in mind.

Your kids may dislike some varieties of greens like kale and Romaine but a milder green like red leaf lettuce or a spring mix might be a win.

Get your kids to eat salad with the right tools

I never used to be the salad-eating type—cooked vegetables were more my speed.

But after I had my first child, my husband purchased this wood chopping bowl and mezzaluna set and making salads became easier and more delicious.

I simply add salad greens, carrots or peppers and avocado, chop everything in the bowl and I have a restaurant-quality salad. Now that my kids are older, they can chop the salad while I’m taking care of the rest of the meal.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some vegetables can be choking hazards, so you’ll want to be sure that they’re finely chopped. You can use a potato peeler, a box grater, or a food processor.

Add yummy ingredients

Think about foods your kids already love and add them to salads to make them more appealing. Put out a variety of ingredients like croutons, shredded cheese, raisins, cranberries, mandarin oranges, nuts and seeds and let your kids choose.

Although you don’t want to go overboard with the toppings, which can add sodium, sugar and saturated fat, if it’s the only way to get your kids to eat salad, then so be it. As your kid grows to love salad, you can slowly cut back or swap out all the extras.

Don’t forget salad dressing

Dressing can give plain ‘ol salad some serious flavor so try different types until you find one your kid likes.

Although store-bought dressings are easy, keep in mind that many contain preservatives, are made with soybean oil, a man-made, processed oil, and are high in sugar and saturated fat. 

Consider making your own salad dressing at home with ingredients like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and avocado.

Try salad kits

My family has become hooked on a salad kit that has shaved Brussels sprouts, shredded cabbage, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries.

Salad kits can be an easy way to get your kids to eat salad and make it easy to pull together dinner in no time.

When choosing a salad kit, always read labels since many are high in calories, sodium and sugar.

Take your kids grocery shopping

Shopping for salad ingredients at the grocery store or farmers’ market with your kids helps them to feel empowered to make healthy choices. When they’ve had a hand in making a meal, they’ll be more likely to eat it.

In fact, according to an August 2014 study in the journal Appetite, kids who cooked with their parents ate 76 percent more salad than those whose parents prepared the meal alone.

Stay consistent

It might seem that your kids will be picky eaters forever, especially if you have toddlers who are inherently picky, but most kids can become healthy, adventurous eaters and love salad. 

The key is to continue to offer healthy foods and teach healthy eating habits every day. This simple shift in mindset can help you muster up the energy and dedication to stay the course and raise healthy-eating kids.

14 Prebiotic Foods For Kids

14 Prebiotic Foods For Kids

As a bona fide foodie and health nut, I’m constantly on the lookout for new food brands and products. Whether it’s a new healthy snack bar or a gluten-free product, companies are constantly jumping on the latest health craze. In recent years, probiotics have definitely become a major focus for food manufacturers. Yet  prebiotics and prebiotic foods for kids seem to be having their own time in the limelight, showing up in baby formula, fruit and vegetable pouches, cereals, baked goods and yogurt. 

In fact, according to a recent report, the prebiotics market is expected to exceed $7.2 billion by the year 2024. Suffice to say, they’re not going anywhere. 

So today, I’m talking about what prebiotics are, what research says about their potential health benefits and safety. Plus, I have a list of prebiotic foods for kids—many of which your kids probably love to eat.

WHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?

Think of prebiotics as probiotics’ partner in crime: they’re dietary fibers that feed the healthy bacteria in the gut allowing them to grow and flourish.

Prebiotics are natural, fermentable carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the body and are typically found in high-fiber foods.

Interestingly, prebiotics were defined in 1995 but their definition has evolved through the years. If you’re a science geek, you’ll appreciate how prebiotics are defined today:

nondigestible compound that, through its metabolization by microorganisms in the gut, modulates the composition and/or activity of the gut microbiota, thus conferring a beneficial physiologic effect on the host

HEALTH BENEFITS OF PREBIOTICS

Although research is limited, studies suggest prebiotics can have a positive effect on gut health, cardiovascular health, mental illness, cancer and obesity.

In fact, a June 2017 study in the journal Gastroenterology suggests prebiotics can help reduce body fat in children who are overweight or obese by altering the microorganisms in the gut.

ARE PREBIOTICS SAFE FOR KIDS?

Since prebiotics is still an emerging area of research, there’s not much information about whether or not they’re safe.

According to an August 2018 study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, of the 384 randomized controlled trials that were analyzed, most failed to record or report data about adverse effects of either probiotics or prebiotics. As a result, it’s not possible at this time to conclude whether they’re safe or not, according to the authors.

With the lack of evidence, I suggest you talk to your child’s pediatrician first before feeding your kids processed foods that have prebiotics added to them.

PREBIOTIC FOODS FOR KIDS

The good news is that prebiotics are naturally found in a variety of whole foods your kids probably already eat, or can grow to love.

1. Asparagus

Asparagus is one of the best prebiotic foods for kids and it’s usually a green leafy vegetable they like to eat.

Asparagus is an excellent source of fiber and protein, vitamins A, C, and E, folate, potassium, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Steam asparagus, or drizzle olive oil on top and roast it. Add asparagus to stir-fry meals or pasta dishes, or fold it into eggs for breakfast.

2. Onions

Onions can be a tough sell for kids but if you add small amounts to your meals, they may grow to love them.

Slice raw onions thin and add them to salads, tacos and spring rolls. Add cooked onions to omelets, soups, stews and chilis, or a vegetable stir-fry. Roast onions with squash and sweet potatoes or add them to your favorite sheet pan meal.

3. Bananas

Bananas are one of the best prebiotic foods for kids, not to mention they’re sweet and delicious. A great source of potassium and vitamin B6, bananas are also a good source of fiber: 1 small banana has 2.6 grams.

I use bananas in green smoothies and add them to overnight oats, oatmeal, breads, muffins, and no-bake energy bites for my kids.

I usually buy two bunches every week so if some start to over-ripen, I pop them in the freezer to use later for a dairy-free ice cream.

4. Garlic

My kids despise garlic, but I still continue to cook a lot with it. Research shows repeated exposure is the key to getting kids to try and accept new foods, so I’ll keep on trying!

I sauté or roast garlic with vegetables and add garlic to lentil chili. My husband also uses garlic to make pesto sauce in the Vitamix

5. Apples

Sweet, crunchy and delicious, apples are also one of the best prebiotic foods for kids.

With more than 4 grams of fiber in one medium apple, they’re also a great source of vitamin C, and have quercetin, an antioxidant that may improve cognitive function, a March 2017 mice study in the journal Behavioral Brain Research suggests.

6. Dandelion greens

Dandelion greens are a good source of fiber, vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. Serve them raw in a chopped salad, incorporate them into egg, pasta or rice dishes, or sauté them with garlic for a delicious side dish.

7. Leeks

Think of leeks as you would onions, garlic and or any other aromatic. Leeks can be steamed, sautéed, or roasted and are delicious with chicken, in a frittata or quiche, mixed with rice and pureed into soup. My kids love leeks, especially sautéed and paired with catfish.

8. Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes as they’re often called, aren’t really artichokes at all. They’re tubers that originate from a plant that looks like a sunflower. Nutty and crunchy,  you can roast them, puree them into a soup, or make Jersusalem artichoke chips.

9. Barley

When you think of barley, beef barley soup probably comes to mind, but there are so many other ways to use this prebiotic-rich food. 

Swap oatmeal for barley, make a grain salad or risotto, add it to other creamy soups, or use it in place of rice or quinoa in veggie or bean burgers. 

10. Oats

I’m a big fan of oats because they’re high in fiber, a good source of iron, selenium and manganese, and they’re low in sugar. Oats are also really versatile: use them to make oatmeal, overnight oats, energy balls, cookies, breads, pancakes and muffins.

11. Chocolate and Cocoa

Studies show chocolate and cocoa are great sources of prebiotics. To get the most benefit, stick with a piece of dark chocolate and avoid desserts made with milk chocolate for example, which are filled with added sugars.

12. Wheat bran

Wheat bran, the outer shell of the wheat kernel, is an excellent source of many nutrients including protein and fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, iron and magnesium.

With a sweet and nutty flavor, you can use wheat bran in breads, muffins, and pancakes.

13. Seaweed

Seaweed is definitely not a food you probably feed your kids regularly, but it’s high in antioxidants, a good source of calcium, iodine, folate and magnesium and prebiotics. There are many types of seaweed but the easiest way to feed it to your kids is with miso soup or dried seaweed snacks.

14. Flaxseeds

High in protein and fiber, a good source of magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds are also one of the best prebiotic foods for kids. Add flaxseeds (whole or ground) to oatmeal, overnight oats, granola and smoothies, or sprinkle on top of salads or yogurt for an extra crunch. You can also use flaxseeds to make a flax egg, as a substitute in baking recipes.

What Are Added Sugars?

What Are Added Sugars?

Cookies, candy and sweet treats are what childhood is made of, but we all know feeding our kids too much sugar can lead to a host of problems like childhood obesity, type-2 diabetes, risk factors for heart disease, fatty liver disease, asthma and of course, cavities. Sugar and its many different types can be complicated however, so you may have had questions like what are added sugars? And are added sugars bad?

Added sugars aren’t only found in kid-friendly foods, but can hide under at least  61 different names, be marketed as “natural,” or found in foods that aren’t even sweet.

To make things even more confusing, there are sugars that can be both natural and added sugars—more on that later!

Here, learn what added sugars are, the differences between natural sugars and added sugars, how to read labels and spot these sneaky sugars, and get easy, simple tips for cutting back on them in your kid’s diet.

WHAT ARE ADDED SUGARS?

When we talk about sugar, it’s important to make the distinction between natural sugars, or naturally-occurring sugars like fructose in fruit and lactose in dairy and added sugars. Although these foods have sugar, they also contain other nutrients that kids need in their diets like fiber and calcium, for example.

Added sugars on the other hand, are any type of ingredient that sweetens foods and beverages—whether you can taste it or not. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, added sugars include syrups and other caloric sweeteners.

The USDA says added sugars are:

  • Anhydrous dextrose
  • Brown sugar
  • Confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • Cane juice
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Crystal dextrose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated corn sweetener
  • Fructose
  • Fruit nectar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Glucose
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Liquid fructose
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Nectars (e.g., peach or pear nectar)
  • Pancake syrup
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Sugar cane juice
  • White granulated sugar

 

There are also natural sugars like honey, agave and maple syrup that once they’re isolated and added to a food as a sweetener, are actually considered added sugars, Angela Lemond, RDN, told me in this article.

The same can be said for fructose, which is considered natural when it’s consumed from real fruit, but once it’s used as a sweetener in foods it’s added sugar.

Related: What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?

In 2018, the FDA considered a requirement for companies to list ingredients such as honey and maple syrup as added sugars on the Nutrition Facts labels by 2020.

In June 2019 however, they issued final guidance stating that single ingredient packages of honey, maple syrup, agave syrup and other pure sugars and syrups do not have to be listed as added sugars.

ARE ADDED SUGARS BAD?

The American Heart Association says kids under 2 shouldn’t have any added sugar in their diets. Kids between 2 and 18 should have no more than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, of added sugar a day.

It probably comes as no surprise however, that most kids in the U.S eat too much sugar. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16 percent of the total calories for children and teens come from added sugars.

But what may surprise you—as it did for me—is that babies and toddlers consume too many added sugars as well.

According to a 2018 study, 99% of toddlers between 19- and 23- months-old consumed an average of 7 teaspoons on any given day—more than the amount of sugar in a Snickers’ bar! What’s more, 60% of children were found to consume sugar before they turned 1.

Although there is no chemical difference between natural sugars and added sugars, and the body metabolizes them the same way, foods with added sugars don’t have the same nutrients that foods with natural sugars have, like fruit or yogurt, for example.

However, since natural and added sugars are perceived by the same taste receptors on the tongue, our bodies can’t tell the difference between the two.

Foods with added sugars also contribute empty calories to your kid’s diet that can lead to weight gain and can displace nutrient-dense calories from real, whole foods.

Sugar may not make your kid hyper—I beg to differ—but eating sugar can make them feel sluggish and cranky.

Since studies show food preferences are established during infancy, feeding kids too many foods with added sugars could affect their eating habits now and throughout their lives.

How To Identify Added Sugars

Although added sugars can be sneaky, there are simple ways to spot them and cut back on them in your kid’s diet.

Stick to foods without sugar and eat real food

One of the best ways to avoid most added sugars in your kid’s diet is to prioritize whole foods over processed, packaged foods at every meal and snack.

Processed kids’ snacks, frozen meals and soups—even those that are organic, gluten-free or made with real cheese—may seem healthy but many have added sugars.

In fact, according to a 2016 report by the University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, 50% of baby snacks and 83% of toddler snacks contain added sugars.

Focus on vegetables and fruits, protein, healthy fats, and whole grains. Depending on their ages, kids need just as many, or more, servings of vegetables than fruit.

Read labels

When it comes spotting added sugars in food, seemingly healthy foods can be sneaky sources in your kid’s diet.

They also may not even taste sweet, making them harder to identify. These can include: 

  • Baby food
  • Baked goods: cookies, cakes, pastries, doughnuts
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Candy and chocolate
  • Canned fruit, fruit cups, dried fruit, applesauce
  • Cereal
  • Dips
  • Frozen foods
  • Granola
  • Ice cream and dairy desserts
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Jams, jellies, fruit preserves, syrups and sweet toppings
  • Juices
  • Ketchup
  • Marina sauce and other sauces
  • Processed snacks
  • Protein, cereal and granola bars
  • Salad dressings
  • Yogurt

The good news is that it’s becoming much easier to spot added sugars. You’ve probably already seen the new Nutrition Facts labels which have a line for added sugars both in grams and as percent Daily Value (DV).

Food manufacturers that have $10 million or more in annual sales have until January 1, 2020 to completely switch out their labels, while those with less than $10 million have until January 1, 2021.

Avoid juice and sugary drinks

In September 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry issued first-ever consensus healthy kids’ drink guidelines.

According to the recommendations, depending on their ages, kids should avoid or limit juice, and avoid all types of sugary drinks including chocolate milk.

Related: Is Chocolate Milk Good for Kids?

Since soda, energy and sports drinks, and fruit drinks are leading sources of added sugar in kids’ diets, cutting back is the best way to avoid them.

Make healthy sweet treats at home

Swapping fast food and store-bought desserts with your own healthy, homemade versions is a great way to cut down on added sugars.

Using natural sweeteners like apple sauce or dried fruit without added sugars, and fresh fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, pears, mango, and sweet potatoes are all great ways to cut down on added sugars. 

Roasting fruits like apples or pears for example, also brings out their natural sweetness and is a healthy and delicious dessert swap for other sugary treats.

 

10 Halloween Party Food Recipes

10 Halloween Party Food Recipes

If you’ve been scrolling through Instagram lately, you’ve probably seen a ton of Halloween party food recipes filling up your feed. Between deviled eggs that look like cute little pumpkins to phyllo-wrapped peppers that look like mummies all beautifully pulled together on a charcuterie board, the photos put most moms’ efforts to make Halloween party food to shame.

If you’re like me, buying your kid’s Halloween costume and running to Target to get candy for trick or treaters is about all you have time to pull off.

Related: 6 Ways To Get Rid of Leftover Halloween Candy

But like most other holidays for kids, Halloween is usually celebrated on several different occasions leading up to October 31. Between parties at home, school, and in the community, chances are, you’re either making or bringing some type of Halloween party food.

My advice: give yourself and break and close out of Instagram. Then check out these 15 quick and easy Halloween party food recipes, plus peanut-free Halloween snacks and ideas for kids with food allergies.

Serve Healthy Halloween Party Food Before Trick-or-Treating

Before my kids head out to trick or treat, I try to make sure they eat a healthy dinner because Halloween doesn’t have to be an-all-or-nothing holiday.

I also know that if they return with a basket filled to the brim with candy and they haven’t eat dinner, they’re more likely to go overboard. All that sugar and empty calories on an empty stomach will lead to a blood sugar spike—and crash: cue the meltdowns.

If you don’t have time to cook a meal, focus on healthy Halloween party food including fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources and whole grains. If eating dinner beforehand isn’t an option, serve healthy Halloween appetizers or snacks.

Halloween Appetizers For a Crowd

Whether you’re tasked with bringing a dish to the party or you’re only serving up small plates, these Halloween appetizers for a crowd are super-easy and delicious.

1. With salsa and avocado, this 7-Layer Spider Web Dip is healthy and delicious and so creative that your guests will think you spent hours whipping it up.

2. Mayo-less with a little bit of a kick, these Devilish Sriracha Avocado Deviled Eggs will be a party favorite.

3. These Stuffed Mushroom Eyeballs are gluten-free, dairy-free and make for a fun addition to your Halloween party food spread.

Simple Halloween Party Snacks

4. It doesn’t get much easier than these kid-friendly Ghost Pizza Bagels.

5. Beef and crescent roll dough make for a delicious combination in these Mummy 

Meatballs.

6. If you’re looking for a healthy Halloween snack amidst all the candy and treats, these adorable Tangerine Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts are the perfect fit. The best part? They only take 10 minutes to make.

7. What kid doesn’t love a yummy muffin? These Whole Spelt Pumpkin Muffins are high in vitamin A and only take 5 minutes to make.

Halloween Party Food Recipes: Desserts

8. Kids love dips and this Pumpkin Pie Dip is sure to please any picky eater.

9. Pumpkin and cheesecake? Yes, please. These No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Truffle Mummies are adorable, tiny bites of goodness.

10. It doesn’t get more kid-friendly than Oreos and pretzels and these Oreo Spiders and Pretzel Wands are super-cute and simple to create.

Halloween party food for kids with food allergies

If your child has food allergies like my child, you know that Halloween can be nerve-wracking as you do your best to prevent accidental exposures to unsafe foods. You’ll have to read labels, ask questions about the foods being served, and maybe even bring a dish that’s safe for your child to eat.

Plan ahead for Halloween party food at school

If your child will be having a party at school, the teacher probably already knows that your kid has food allergies, but that doesn’t mean she’s necessarily reading every food label that comes in.

If you’re able to attend the party, it’s a good way to keep your kid safe. If you can’t, ask the teacher to give you a list of the snacks or send photos of the ingredient labels so you can check them beforehand.

For homemade foods like cookies and cupcakes, it’s wise to have your kid avoid them altogether. Alternatively, you can send your child in with an allergy-safe treat to enjoy.

Sort and check Halloween candy at home

When your kid comes home from school or trick or treating, sort all of the candy to figure out what’s safe and what’s not.

You might think certain types of candy are OK because they were safe to eat in the past, but ingredients can differ between fun size and regular size, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

If a piece of candy doesn’t have the ingredients on the label, check the nutrition label on the brand’s website to make sure your kid doesn’t eat something that can cause an allergic reaction.

Look for the food allergy pumpkin

In 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project® launched to keep kids with food allergies safe on Halloween. Homes that have a teal-colored pumpkin on the doorstep signal to kids that they’ll receive a fun, non-food treat. To find Teal Pumpkin Project homes in your area, check out their participation map.

Peanut free Halloween snacks for school

If your child has a peanut or tree nut allergy, you can serve nut-free Halloween snacks. Some ideas include:

  • Fresh fruit dipped in caramel or chocolate
  • Fruit wands
  • Raisins or other dried fruit
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Nut-free trail mix
  • Nut-free granola
  • Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Marshmallows
  • Nut-free fudge
  • Nut-free chocolate
  • Homemade treats

     

What are some of your favorite Halloween party food recipes? Let me know in the comments!

How to Eat Pumpkin Seeds + My Favorite Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

How to Eat Pumpkin Seeds + My Favorite Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

     Between pumpkin-spiced lattes and everything else pumpkin-inspired this time of year, pumpkin gets so much attention that pumpkin seeds—a bonafide superfood too—are often overlooked and underutilized. Perhaps it’s because many people don’t know how to eat pumpkin seeds, or how to cook them and incorporate them into their meals. Fortunately, there are so many healthy, delicious ways to eat pumpkin seeds that my family loves—and yours will too. But first, let’s look at the health benefits of pumpkin seeds.

Are pumpkin seeds good for you?

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, which in Spanish means “little seeds of squash,” are packed with nutrition and one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

Packed with protein

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein— an ounce has nearly 7 grams which gives kids energy and staves off hunger.

Protein also helps to build muscle, carry nutrients through the body, regulate hormones, and strengthen skin and bones. Making sure you include protein at every meal also helps to keep blood sugar steady and prevent weight gain.

Filled with fiber

If your kids are like most and don’t get enough fiber in their diets from fruits and vegetables, serving pumpkin seeds can help fill some of the void.

Whole pumpkin seeds in their shells have about 5 grams of fiber per serving, while shelled pumpkin seeds have about 3 grams per serving. Although the latter has less fiber, pair pumpkin seeds with a high-fiber fruit like an apple or a pear for example, and you’ve got a healthy snack.

High in magnesium and other minerals

Magnesium is an essential mineral that’s responsible for several different biochemical processes in the body including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium also helps to support bone health, and it can help ease anxiety and may also improve sleep.

Pumpkin seeds are also high in iron, which the red blood cells need to transport oxygen throughout the body. They’re also rich in zinc, which supports skin health, eye health, and may help boost your kids’ immunity and cut down on the amount of times they get sick with colds, infections or stomach bugs.

Related: [VIDEO] How to Boost Your Kids’ Immunity

 

May make bedtime easier

When you hear the word tryptophan, you probably think turkey and that post-Thanksgiving dinner slump you get when you eat it. Yet tryptophan is also found in pumpkin seeds.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that converts to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for sleep and a happy mood. So although there’s no guarantee, feeding your kids pumpkin seeds may help them sleep through the night.

High in antioxidants

Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants, including carotenoids and vitamin E, which reduce inflammation and help to prevent many types of diseases.

Lower risk for type-2 diabetes and heart disease

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 193,000 kids and teens under age 20 are diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and experts agree, those numbers are on the rise.

Studies suggest along with a healthy diet and exercise, eating pumpkin seeds may prevent type-2 diabetes. In fact, a February 2014 study in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition suggests eating pumpkin seeds can help maintain blood glucose levels.

Another February 2012 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests pumpkin seed oil may reduce high blood pressure and be protective of the cardiovascular system.

Healthy fats

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of plant-based omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the heart-healthy, brain healthy fats kids need in their diets.

Healthy fats are a vital source of energy for kids and help satisfy their hunger.

They’re also essential for healthy cell membranes, they support the brain and the nervous system, and help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.

Fat is also necessary to make hormones and immune cells and to help regulate inflammation and metabolism.

Related: 5 Foods With Healthy Fats Kids Will Love

How to Eat Pumpkin Seeds

While you can eat pumpkin seeds that you get when you carve a pumpkin, making them edible is a process. First, you’ll have to scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin, clean and dry them, and then bake them for 30 minutes. If you want to add cinnamon or other spices, you’ll have to bake them for another 20 minutes.

I don’t know about you but who has time for that?

A quicker and easier way is to buy plain, unsalted pumpkin seeds at the grocery store. You can serve them alone or add them to any type of meal, but either way, there are so healthy and delicious ways to eat them.

Eat pumpkin seeds as a snack

The great thing about pumpkin seeds for kids is that they’re portable, but they don’t have to be refrigerated or kept cool, and they’re allergy-safe for school.

You can toss plain pumpkin seeds with raisins, roast them with cinnamon and sugar (see my favorite pumpkin seeds recipe below!) or your kid’s favorite spices.

Or you can make a pumpkin seed salsa for a healthy and delicious snack.

Add pumpkin seeds to oatmeal

Incorporate pumpkin seeds into oatmeal, overnight oats and baked oatmeal for a quick and easy breakfast.

Top muffins and breads with pumpkin seeds

There’s nothing better than fresh-from-the-oven muffins and breads, especially those made with pumpkin, apples or pears. Mix some pumpkin seeds in the batter or sprinkle them on top and you have a little extra nutrition and texture too.

Use pumpkin seeds in granola

I love making my own homemade granola because I can control the ingredients and the amount of sugar, plus it’s super easy to make a large batch that can last you awhile.

You can use pumpkin seeds in this recipe from Cookie and Kate which I made recently—it was gone in a few days!

Make homemade trail mix with pumpkin seeds

Trail mix can be a healthy snack option, but most types on store shelves are packed with salty nuts and seeds, load of dried fruit, “yogurt-” covered raisins, chocolate chips and M&Ms.

Instead, make your own trail mix with pumpkin seeds—it’s quick and easy and the best part is that you get to control the ingredients and the portion size.

Make pumpkin seed butter

If you’re looking for an allergy-safe option for school lunches, try making pumpkin seed butter, which is simple to whip up in your blender or Vitamix.

You can also add pumpkin seed butter to smoothies, swirl it into yogurt, drizzle it on top of fruit, or serve it as a fruit dip.

Need a recipe? Try Momables’ Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed Butter.

Add pumpkin seeds to salads, soups, and side dishes

Pumpkin seeds can be tossed into about any type of meal and side dish. Think: vegetable stir-fry, roasted vegetables, rice and grain dishes, tacos, chilis, soups and salads.

Prepare a pesto

Swap pine nuts for pumpkin seeds in your favorite pesto recipe for a healthy and delicious addition to steak, fish or chicken or spread on your favorite toasted baguette.

Best Pumpkin Seeds To Buy

If you want to roast shelled pumpkin seeds but don’t have the time, there are some great healthy, store-bought options.

Both brands are non-GMO, gluten-free and free of dairy, egg, soy, peanut and tree nuts, which is important if you have kids with food allergies like I do

Go Raw Organic Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds pumpkin seeds are sprouted which makes them easy to digest and boosts their nutritional value.

SuperSeedz brand pumpkin seeds are roasted with only natural ingredients like dark chocolate, cinnamon (my kids’ favorite) and cayenne pepper. They also come in 1 ounce and 5 ounce snack size pouches.

My Favorite Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

My daughter loves roasted cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds and although I’ve purchased them in the past, they can get pricey, so recently I made them for her.

I used this recipe for Cinnamon Toast Pumpkin Seeds but swapped out the white sugar for coconut sugar (I like Madhava).

Does your family eat pumpkin seeds? What’s your favorite way to serve them up? Let me know in the comments.

New Healthy Kids’ Drink Recommendations: What Parents Should Know

New Healthy Kids’ Drink Recommendations: What Parents Should Know

Last Wednesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of  Pediatric Dentistry jointly issued new healthy kids’ drink guidelines for parents.

Healthy Drinks, Healthy Kids as they’re called, are the first-ever consensus recommendations on what constitutes a healthy kids’ drink for kids ages 5 and under as well as the types of beverages parents should limit or avoid.

The new guidelines focus on a handful of key recommendations: breast milk, infant formula, plain milk, and water are best while fruit juice and non-dairy, plant-based milks should be avoided.

This is exciting news because these leading health organizations are finally taking a stance and stating that drinks are just as important as the foods we feed our kids.

Drinks can be a significant source of calories, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats for young kids and they can also fill a void from nutritional deficiencies that are typically a result of picky eating behaviors.

Since food preferences are formed at an early age—even in utero, the first 5 years is a critical time. Plus, serving up a healthy kids’ drink also encourages healthy choices throughout their lives.

What’s more, with childhood obesity still an epidemic and conditions like type-2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) on the rise, the beverages our kids consume are more important than ever. 

What are the new healthy kids’ drink recommendations?

So let’s take a look at the new recommendations:

All children ages 5 and under should avoid drinking:

  • Chocolate milk and strawberry milk
  • Toddler formulas such as toddler milks, growing up milks or follow-up formulas
  • Plant-based/non-dairy milks (with some exceptions).

Beverages with caffeine, low-calorie sweetened beverages including those sweetened with stevia, sucralose or labeled “diet” or “light,” sugar-sweetened drinks including soda, fruit drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, fruit-ades, sports and energy drinks, sweetened waters, and sweetened coffee and tea drinks should also be off limits.

Infants from 0 to 6 months should only have breastmilk and/or infant formula.

Babies 6 to 12 months should continue to stick with breastmilk and/or infant formula. Once they start solids, parents should offer a small amount of water at mealtimes. Introducing a few sips of water can help them get used to the taste.

Additionally, the healthy kids’ drink recommendations state babies should avoid fruit juice—even 100% fruit juice—because whole fruit has much more nutrition.

Babies 12 to 24 months can be introduced to plain, pasteurized whole milk and plain water to stay hydrated. Although the recommendations say 100% fruit juice is ok, it should be limited. An even better choice? Fresh, canned or frozen fruit without any added sugars.

Children between 2- and 5-years-old should stick with milk, ideally skim milk or low-fat (1%) and water. Again, small amounts of fruit juice are OK, but whole fruit is always better. 

If you’re looking for more details, you can read the full recommendations here.

Related: Is Chocolate Milk Good for Kids?

Do the new recommendations include non-dairy, plant-based milks?

In recent years, the amount of people interested in plant-based, non-dairy milks like almond milk, cashew milk, and oat milk have significantly increased. According to the Plant Based Foods Association, sales of plant-based milks were up 9% in 2018, worth an estimated $1.6 billion, while sales of cow’s milk were down 6%.

Despite their popularity, the organizations that developed the healthy kids’ drink recommendations say kids under 5 should avoid consuming them.

For starters, many plant-based milks have added sugars to make them taste sweet.

Although many also have added nutrients like calcium and Vitamin D, the amounts can vary by type and brand and studies show our bodies may not be able to absorb these nutrients as well as they can from cow’s milk, the panel says.

The one exception to the recommendation of avoiding plant-based milks is fortified soy milk, which stacks up nutritionally to cow’s milk.

Another caveat is that for kids who are lactose intolerant, have a dairy allergy or follow a vegan diet, unsweetened and fortified non-dairy milks may be a good idea.

Is fruit juice healthy for kids?

The new recommendations about fruit juice in particular, are a welcomed change and something I think can have a significant impact on our children’s health now and throughout their lives.

Fruit juice is often marketed to families as a healthy food for kids, especially those that are organic or not from concentrate.

Although juice has certain vitamins and nutrients and can count as a serving of fruit—a good thing if your kid is a picky eater—in reality, fruit juice is just concentrated sugar. Fruit juice also lacks fiber, something all kids need whether they’re constipated or not.

Drinking too much juice can also lead to cavities, weight gain and diarrhea.

What about healthy fruit smoothies?

The new healthy kids’ drink recommendations do not include a mention of smoothies, but I think it’s something to consider since parents often serve them to their kids to help increase their intake of fruits and vegetables.

Smoothies are often seen as a health food, yet take a look at most bottled or restaurant smoothies—yes, green smoothies too—and you’ll discover most are filled with sugar thanks to ingredients like fruit juice, honey, raw sugar and loads of fresh fruit.

Sure, fresh fruit has natural sugars and other nutrients, but sugar is sugar.

If your kids like smoothies, make your own at home, using only vegetables and fruit at an 80:20 ratio.

How much water do kids need?

Since infants 6- to 12-months-old should only be offered small sips of water at meals, between 4 and 8 ounces total for the day is enough but it shouldn’t replace breast milk and/or infant formula.

These are the recommendations for water intake for older children:

1- to 3-years old: 1 to 4 cups of water a day

4- to 5-years old: 1.5 to 5 cups a day

Tips for offering a healthy kids’ drink

Substitute sugary drinks
If your kids love juice or another sweetened beverage and you know going cold-turkey isn’t going to work, slowly swap it out.

Try adding water to juice in your kid’s sippy cup or cut down the serving size or amount of servings per day until you can nix it for good.

Encourage drinking water
Pure, simple H2O may not be your kid’s first choice, but water gives their bodies what they need and it quenches their thirst without any unnecessary calories, fat or sugar.

The best way to eliminate juice and sugary drinks from your kid’s diet is to simply stop buying it. At daycare or church for example, you can encourage the people who provide the food to eliminate it too.

Although there’s not much you can do at birthday parties for example, you can do your best to encourage your kid to drink water or milk instead or allow juice in small amounts for that day.

Simple changes like offering a cool new sippy cup, a fun straw or adding slices of strawberries or cucumbers to water, for example, can be enough to encourage them to drink up.

Talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric RDN
If you’re avoiding cow’s milk for any reason, it’s a good idea to check with your child’s pediatrician or pediatric registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure your child is getting enough key nutrients like protein, calcium and vitamin D in his diet.

What do you think about the new healthy kids’ drink recommendations? Leave me a comment.

How To Save Money At The Grocery Store

How To Save Money At The Grocery Store

     In our family, one of the biggest line items next to our mortgage and taxes is the grocery store bill. This might shock you—and sometimes I’m embarrassed to admit it—but we spend anywhere between $150 and $250 a week on food, which is why I’m always looking for ways to save money at the grocery store.

Lately, my husband has been doing the food shopping at Shop Rite, but I’ll also head to Whole Foods at least once a month to get certain items like salmon, grass-fed beef, liver (yes, my kids love it!) and organic bread.

The amount we spend at the grocery store has even become a bone of contention from time to time between he and I. He doesn’t believe organic is really organic, for example, and so he won’t shell out the extra cash for it.

We’ve also talked about curbing our spending on healthy, but high-priced, foods like nuts and fish. But at the end of the day, we both agree we’d rather spend money on healthy food instead of doctors’ bills down the line.

When it comes to paying more for healthy food, I know I’m not alone. According to a September 2019 survey, 80 percent of millennials say quality is a big factor when they go food shopping and nearly 70 percent will pay more money for it.

Another reason we spend a lot of money at the grocery store is because we’re committed to feeding our kids a mostly whole foods diet. Instead of processed, packaged after-school snacks for example, we encourage them to have a fruit or vegetable instead.

How much you spend when you head to the supermarket depends on a lot of factors including the part of the country you live in, if you live in the city, the suburbs or a rural area, the size of your family and if you buy organic, conventional or both.

Still, there are so many ways to save money at the grocery store. Here are 15.

Make a healthy grocery store list

One of the best ways to save money at the grocery store is to make a list and stick with it.

A new brand catches your eye or you see something your kids might like? Stick to the list!

As you start to make your list, go through your refrigerator, freezer and pantry and see what you need to replenish so you don’t buy something you already have.

Also, think about the week ahead so you can plan accordingly. Perhaps you need to bring the team snack to soccer or maybe you need a fast meal on hand for a night when you know you’ll be getting home late—add it to the list.

You’ll probably find that you purchase many of the same foods every week which is also a great way to keep your family on track with eating healthy.

Most of the foods on your shopping list should be those located in the perimeter of the store like fruits and vegetables, meat, fish and poultry and dairy and eggs.

In the interior sections, you can find healthy foods like beans and legumes, canned salmon, sardines and tuna fish, whole grains like brown rice, as well as frozen fruits and vegetables, but stay away from highly-processed foods and snacks.

Meal plan before heading to the grocery store

Surprisingly, I don’t do any formal meal planning because I tend to make many of the same meals every week and I keep it real simple on weeknights.

But some of my friends swear by it and experts say it can help you save a lot of money and cut down on food waste—a good thing since an average family of four in the U.S. wastes about 25 percent of the food they buy, costing as much as $2,200 a year!

Whether you use a meal planning app or old fashioned pen and paper, make a list of your meals for the week, including breakfasts, school lunches, dinners and snacks.

Also, look through new recipes you’ve saved to make sure you have all of the ingredients you’ll need.

Buy foods in bulk

Whether you’re a member of Costco or shop the bulk bins at Whole Foods, buying foods in bulk can help you save money at the grocery store.

However, you’ll need to watch your kids’ portion sizes or you could end up spending even more. On the flip side, if you don’t consume the food in a timely manner, it can spoil and create food waste.

Here are some great foods to buy in bulk:

  • Berries
  • Beans and legumes
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Granola
  • Dried fruit
  • Herbs and spices
  • Olive oil and coconut oil

Stick with budget meals

When you do your meal planning, stick with meal ideas and recipes that have minimal ingredients and use cheap, healthy foods.

Also, think about ways to stretch your food dollars. For example, a large container of spinach can be used for morning smoothies and for a frittata for dinner. Or a package of beans can be transformed into a veggie chili or added to tacos.

Go to the grocery store on these days

Although the weekends can be busy with errands, sports and family obligations, it’s also a great time to head to the supermarket and do some meal prep or batch cooking when you get home.

The best day of the week to save money at the grocery store however, is Wednesday, when many stores come out with new deals. According to a survey by cash back app Ibotta, hump day is also the best day to save money on produce.

Whole Foods for example, runs Wednesday specials and if you also use the Amazon Prime app, you may be able to save even more.

Make more plant-based meals

Getting more plant-based foods into your family’s diet is one of the best things you can do for their health.

Plant-based foods are packed with the nutrition kids need for their growth and development. Most plant-based foods also have filling fiber to satisfy their hunger and prevent constipation. Recent studies show plant-based diets are also linked with a lower risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity.

Fortunately, plant-based foods are also more affordable than meat, poultry and fish, especially organic. Foods like black beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, tempeh, rice, quinoa, and farro are versatile, and can be used in several types of meals and help to stretch your food budget.

Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

Sometimes life is so hectic that the only time you have to go food shopping is right before dinner when you’re ravenous.

Yet going to the grocery store on an empty stomach means you’re not only more likely to buy junk food, but there’s a good chance you’ll also overspend.

In fact, a February 2015 study out University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management found people who were hungry spent 64% more money on (surprisingly) non-food items.

Order your groceries online

Ordering your groceries ahead of time can ensure you stick to your list and don’t make any impulse purchases.

Many stores allow you to place your order online and then either pick it up or have your groceries delivered.

Leave your credit card at home

No one carries cash anymore but if you bring it to the grocery store, it can actually help you stick to your food budget.

Unless you have a credit card that gives you cash back rewards (I love Capital One Quicksilver), it’s easy to overspend.

It may take more time, but also consider bringing a calculator to the store to make sure you stay on track.

Think twice about bringing kids to the grocery store

Bringing your kids with you is one of the best ways to encourage them to make healthy choices but if your kids are like most and are lured by clever food marketing and ask you to buy them treats every two minutes, your spending can easily get out of hand.

Fortunately, I’ve found some solutions that work.

Depending on your kids’ ages, you can set the expectation before you head into the supermarket that you’re sticking to the list because you can’t afford to buy anything extra. Or you can decide that they can pick out one treat, among a set of choices that you give them.

For younger kids, you might decide to bring a healthy snack for them to munch on or a toy to play with, or let them help you pick produce and take containers off the shelves.

Although it’s not always doable, try not to go grocery shopping during nap and meal and snack times when your kid is likely to be cranky and have a meltdown because you said “no” to sugary cereal.

Shop sales

Look through supermarket circulars for sales and coupons or load them onto your store app and stock up. You can also use a cash back app like Ibotta, and double your savings.

Also, shopping produce that’s in season means that it’s fresher but it may be also be a better price. Check out this helpful chart to see what’s in season all year-long.

If your supermarket has a clearance section, you may be able to find deep discounts on certain items. The key of course, is to only buy items on your list or those that you’ll use because otherwise, you’re wasting your money.

Use your store loyalty card

Many stores have loyalty reward cards which allow you to take advantage of exclusive sale prices or give you rewards points to use on future store purchases.

Buy generic instead of brand 

Unless you’re a brand loyalist or there is a difference in ingredients between brand name and generic, stick with the latter which can save you a ton of money.

 

 

Think outside the grocery store

Many big box stores like Target or Walmart also carry produce, including organic, so if you’re heading there anyway, it’s a good way to save money.

 

Also head to your local farmer’s market where you might get a better deal on organic produce than you would at the grocery store, one report found. Try to arrive around closing time when you might be able to score discounts on produce that the farmers haven’t sold.

 

 

Have your groceries delivered

Although the fees vary depending on the service, AmazonFresh, Prime Pantry, Thrive Market, Kroger Ship and Shipt can help you avoid overspending and if you think about the cost of your time, it may be well worth it. 

What are some of your favorite ways to save money at the grocery store? Let me know in the comments!

 

15 Kids’ Healthy Eating Myths That Are Dangerous To Believe

15 Kids’ Healthy Eating Myths That Are Dangerous To Believe

When it comes to nutrition and healthy eating, it seems that a lot of what we read is confusing and contradictory, and separating fact from fiction is no easy task especially when you’re a busy parent.

Let’s take safely introducing nuts to babies, which is a new food philosophy that can make healthy eating tricky.

When my kids were babies—which was only a few years ago—I was told to wait to feed them nuts because of the risk of food allergies. Now that advice has changed and parents are encouraged to feed nuts to their babies early on.

Unless you’re a nutritionist, chances are, you don’t have time to sift through the research and figure out what’s true and what’s not. Although I can’t guarantee that a new study won’t come out tomorrow and influence how we should feed our kids, here are 15 kids’ healthy eating myths that you should stop believing today.

 

1. Healthy eating is time consuming

Serving healthy meals definitely takes time to plan, prep and cook—definitely more time than opening up a box of chicken nuggets or ordering take-out.

If you work, have more than one kid at home, care for an aging parent, and have other obligations, your time is even more limited.

A myth about healthy eating however, is that it’s too time consuming but I want to assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.

With easy, simple strategies like meal planning, batch cooking and sticking to the basics, it is possible to serve healthy meals everyday.

Related: How I Work Full-Time and Cook Dinner (Almost) Every Night

2. The Keto diet is healthy for kids


Low-carb diets like keto are all the rage for adults looking to lose weight, but in recent months, it’s shocking to see how many bloggers are posting keto diet recipes for kids.

When it comes to refined carbohydrates like those found in white breads, pastas and rice and processed foods, I agree, they should be limited.

These types of carbs break down into simple sugars easily, cause blood sugar levels to spike and don’t satiate hunger—which might be one of the reasons your kid is always hungry.

Complex carbohydrates on the other hand, provide kids with the energy they need and they support their muscle growth and brain development. They also take longer to break down, which keeps blood sugar levels steady.

Complex carbs are also high in fiber which satisfy hunger and prevent constipation.

So instead of cutting carbs, offer a variety of foods with complex carbohydrates. These include:

  • Vegetables like pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits like berries, apples and pears
  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa

Related: Is Keto Safe For Kids?

 

 

3. Sneaking vegetables is the best way to encourage healthy eating

Pureeing vegetables and sneaking them into sauces, baked goods, and smoothies can definitely give your kids the nutrition they need and otherwise wouldn’t get.

Yet sneaking every type of vegetable they eat into their meal isn’t going to make them into healthy eaters.

Our goal as parents is to raise kids who not only accept but LOVE to eat healthy.

And one of the ways to do that is to give them plenty of opportunities to smell, touch and taste vegetables in their whole form.

Sure, they may not love everything you serve, but they must have plenty of chances to learn what they like and dislike.

So while I don’t see anything wrong with green smoothies or adding a vegetable puree into a meal for extra nutrition, whole vegetables should make up a bulk of their plates.   

4. Kids should eat kid-friendly foods

I get it: it’s really easy and convenient to open a box of macaroni and cheese and serve it to your kids. It’s quick and easy and you know they’ll eat it.

I’m not saying that I don’t rely on some Annie’s macaroni and cheese when I don’t feel like cooking or we’re short on time, but here’s the thing: if you’re serving kid-friendly foods because you know your kids aren’t going to eat the healthy dinner you made, they’re missing out.

Without plenty of opportunities to taste and experience new types of food, they won’t develop the preference for healthy fare—and the picky eating behaviors will continue.

 

5. Healthy eating includes drinking milk 

Milk is a good source of calcium and protein as well as vitamins A, B6, B12, magnesium, niacin, selenium and zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Yet one of the biggest kids’ healthy eating myths is that kids need to drink milk for calcium.

The truth is that there are far better sources of calcium than milk, and they also don’t contain growth hormones, allergenic proteins and antibiotics. Some include:

  • Chia seeds
  • Black turtle beans
  • Sardines (my kids love them!)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Almonds
  • Rhubarb
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Bok choy
  • Collard greens
  • Salmon
  • Figs
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens

Research also shows cow’s milk is inflammatory and linked to a host of diseases.

In fact, in February 2019, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine called on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to update the new guidelines to include a warning about the health dangers of dairy.

6. “Gluten free” means healthy

If your kids are on a gluten-free diet because of Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease or another reason, it can definitely be a healthy way to eat.

Yet just because the food label says gluten free, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

So many gluten free foods sold in stores contain artificial ingredients, sweeteners and food dyes you don’t want your kids eating. 

If you’re going gluten free, do it the healthy way and make sure your kids eat mostly whole foods including fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and gluten-free grains like oats and quinoa.

7. Yogurt is a health food

Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, which can satisfy hunger and prevent weight gain.

It’s also a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12 as well as probiotics, the healthy bacteria that boosts gut health and strengthen the immune system.

Yet many yogurts, those that are marketed to kids or otherwise, are also sneaky sources of sugar.

Yogurts with pretzels, candy and crushed cookies are obvious sources, but those that are blended with fruit can also be high in the sweet stuff.

Read labels carefully and stick to brands with less than 11 grams of sugar, according to nutritionist Joy Bauer.

Siggi’s is one of my favorites for kids. Or serve plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit for a hint of sweetness and fiber.

Related: 10 Foods High In Probiotics For Kids

8. Kids who refuse to eat are picky eaters


When kids refuse to try a new food they’ve been introduced to once or even several times, it doesn’t mean they’re picky eaters.

Repeatedly introducing foods to kids is an effective way to prevent picky eating.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it can take between 8 and 15 times of introducing a new food for a child to accept it.

Plus, a December 2007 study in the journal Food Quality and Preference found that when mothers introduced a vegetable their infants initially disliked, by the 8th day of serving it, their intake of it increased rapidly. And by the 8th exposure, their intake was similar to that of a vegetable they liked. Nine months later, 63 percent of the infants were still eating the originally disliked vegetable.

Introduce tiny bites of new foods alongside your kid’s favorite foods.

Also, instead of serving the food the same way over and over again, try a different cooking method (roasted vs. steamed), or serve it alone and mixed in (but not hidden!) with another food your kid enjoys eating.

9. Kids should only get dessert if they eat their dinner

When you’re frustrated with your picky eaters, you can beg, plead and negotiate—and bribe them with dessert but it’s not a long-term strategy for healthy eating.

Allowing them to have dessert after a certain requirement has been met, i.e. take two more bites or eat all of your vegetables, teaches them that dessert is more desirable than healthy food.

It’s also something they start to believe as they get older—just think about how most adults view dessert.

Bribing kids with dessert also interferes with their hunger and satiety cues. Telling a kid he must eat some or everything on his plate is a pressure tactic that doesn’t allow kids to recognize when they’re not hungry or when they’re full and makes mealtimes a negative experience.

Can we encourage healthy eating? We sure can. But just like anything else, we can’t make our kids do what they don’t want to.

So instead of trying to enforce “food rules,” serve healthy foods and encourage healthy habits.

If you decide to serve dessert, which by the way can be fruit, a muffin, or yogurt, for example, kids should be allowed to have it no matter what or how much they ate.

10. Store-bought baby food is just as good as homemade


Although many of the store-bought baby food brands don’t have preservatives or additives, open them up and you’ll smell—and taste—the difference.

In 2015, Good Morning America found that water was the most predominant ingredient in Plum Organics’ baby food and other ingredients like fruits, vegetables and meat, were in smaller quantities.

Store-bought baby food may also contain less than 20 percent of the recommended levels of many minerals and micronutrients, a 2012 study out of the U.K found.

There are some exceptions, however.

Once Upon A Farm uses fresh, whole, organic foods to make their cold-pressed, refrigerated baby food. There are also companies that deliver homemade baby food to your door.

Making homemade baby food definitely takes more time then opening up a jar but it’s also one of the best things you can do for your baby.

You know exactly what’s going into your baby’s meals and you can choose food that is organic, local, from the farmer’s market and in-season so it’s fresher and more affordable.

13. Kids shouldn’t eat eggs everyday

For many years in the U.S. experts said we should limit the amount of eggs in our diets because the saturated fat they contain was linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Experts now agree, and studies (here and here) show that there’s not enough data to support that theory. Studies also show that dietary cholesterol doesn’t have much of an effect on blood cholesterol.

A January 2015 study in the American Heart Journal found eating up to one egg per day is not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

Earlier this year, another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that eating eggs can increase cardiovascular disease risk and death. Yet experts say the study has limitations and eating eggs in the context of a healthy diet is fine.

14. All processed food is bad and prevents healthy eating

You already know that kids should eat less processed foods and more real, whole foods.

Most processed foods are loaded with sodium, sugar, saturated fat and artificial ingredients you can’t identify or pronounce. They also lack fiber and the vitamins and minerals kids need in their diets.

Although highly-processed foods, which are those that that have sweeteners, oils, flavors, colors and preservatives should be avoided, not all processed foods are bad for kids.

Minimally-processed foods like bagged salads, washed and pre-chopped fruits and vegetables, or canned beans for example, can be healthy, encourage healthy eating and make your life easier.

Related: How To Cut Processed Foods From Your Kid’s Diet

15. Chocolate milk is healthy for kids

In schools, serving chocolate milk is seen by proponents as a way to encourage kids to drink milk when they otherwise wouldn’t. In recent years, it’s also been promoted as a post-workout recovery drink for athletes.

While chocolate milk is a good source of protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals, it’s also high in sugar: 24 grams or more sugar than a Mr. Goodbar!

Suffice to say, chocolate milk isn’t something kids should be drinking regularly, but can be served as an occasional treat. 

10 Foods High In Probiotics For Kids

10 Foods High In Probiotics For Kids

In recent years, it seems that everything you read about when it comes to health is about gut health, eating foods high in probiotics and taking probiotic supplements.

In our family, I do my best to get probiotics into my kids especially this time of year when colds and fevers are almost inevitable. In the last few months, we’ve also been working with a naturopath to help my older daughter who has food allergies boost her gut health and lower her immune response with a protocol that includes vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc and probiotics.

My kids also eat (and enjoy!) foods high in probiotics like fermented vegetables— no matter how strange they may seem. Of course, there are other healthy, delicious and convenient options that you can start to incorporate into your kid’s diet.

But first, let’s take a look at why your kids need healthy gut bacteria, what can throw it off balance, and how to boost their gut health.

Let’s get started.

Why healthy gut bacteria is important for kids

Healthy gut bacteria starts with the microbiome, which is a vast collection of 100 trillion microbes or microorganisms that actually live in and on the body, but most are found in the gastrointestinal tract.

Bacteria are one type of microbes and although we do everything we can to prevent our kids from coming into contact with bad bacteria that can cause colds and infections for example, there are also healthy bacteria that our bodies need to stay healthy.

Although researchers continue to study the benefits of probiotics and figure out what all the different types are good for, there is a lot we know now about the importance of healthy gut bacteria for kids.

A strong immune system

Kids are like little petri dishes for germs, especially when they’re in daycare and school. They all touch the same surfaces, share the same toys and put everything in their mouths. So if you have young kids, you know how often they get sick. Kids under the age of 6 in particular, get 8 to 10 colds a year!

Perhaps one of the strongest areas of research that has looked at the benefits of probiotics is immunity. In fact, a June 2018 study in the journal Synthetic and Systems Biotechnology, which was conducted in adults, showed probiotics are safe and effective remedy for colds and flu-like respiratory infections.

Better mood and behavior

The gut is often called the second brain because of the strong pathways that are along the gut-brain axis. In fact, the enteric nervous system, which directs the function of the GI system, has 30 types of neurotransmitters and 100 million neurons.

So although we often think the brain is entirely responsible for mental health, mood and behavior, experts say the gut has a lot to do with it too. While your kid will still cry and have meltdowns, optimizing healthy gut bacteria with foods high in probiotics may boost his mood and improve his behavior.

Improved sleep

No parent is immune to bedtime battles especially with young kids, but research suggests probiotics may improve sleep. That’s because a whopping 90 percent of serotonin, the building block for melatonin, the “sleep hormone” is located in the gut.  What’s more, certain bacteria in the gut are important for the production of serotonin, a 2015 study out of Caltech found.

Cures constipation

A lack of fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains or dehydration is often to blame for kids’ constipation. But some kids have “functional constipation,” which can happen when they avoid going to the bathroom because they fear pooping will be painful. In those kids, an imbalance in healthy gut bacteria may be the cause and probiotics may help, according to a February 2019 review in the journal Frontiers in Medicine.

Eases colic and reflux

If you have a baby with colic or reflux, you know how tiring and stressful it can be but strengthening their gut health may help.

A March 2014 study in JAMA Pediatrics found when probiotics were given to infants during the first three months after birth they cried less and had less reflux.

Another 2018 study found in breastfed infants, probiotics can reduce fussiness and crying.

Improves allergies and eczema

Studies suggest probiotics may help with allergenic conditions.

In fact, a February 2018 meta-analysis in the journal PLOS One suggests taking probiotics during late pregnancy and while breastfeeding may reduce a baby’s risk for eczema.  Another study out of Vanderbilt University suggests probiotics can improve symptoms of seasonal allergies, but more research is needed to make recommendations, the authors noted.

Can probiotics help kids with stomach viruses?

Research suggests that probiotics can help ease diarrhea after a round of antibiotics.

Yet in recent years, giving probiotics to kids to help ease diarrhea and vomiting for any reason has become increasingly common but new research shows it’s not effective. 

According to a November 2018 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, a common type of probiotic called Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, or LGG, which is sold over the counter as Culturelle, had no effect on kids’ symptoms. “Parents are better off saving their money and using it to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables for their children,” the study authors stated.

Are probiotics for kids safe?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a clinical report in 2010 which states that products with probiotics seem to be safe for infants and children but the long-term effects are unknown and more research is needed.

They also say there are safety concerns in children who have compromised immune systems, are chronically debilitated or seriously ill and have indwelling medical devices like catheters or endotracheal tubes.

It’s also important to note that the FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements as rigorously as they do for prescription and over-the-counter medications.

What can disrupt healthy gut bacteria?

It’s ideal to have good and bad bacteria in the right balance in the gut, but there are so many factors that can throw it off.

 

Antibiotics

If your kid has a bacterial infection, antibiotics are necessary, but they can also wipe out all the healthy gut bacteria which is why taking a probiotic can help restore balance.

 

Processed foods 

Experts say eating processed foods and those high with sugar over the long term can lead to intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut occurs when the tight junctions in the large intestine open and allow undigested food particles and pathogens in, which in turn elicits an immune response.

Leaky gut syndrome has been linked to various conditions including allergies, asthma, fatigue, autoimmune diseases, migraines and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

If your kids eat a lot of foods that are in a bag, box, or package, chances are they’re  also missing out on key vitamins and minerals that keep their guts and immune systems strong and keep them healthy.

 

Lack of sleep

Researchers are also looking at how sleep may affect gut health. In fact, an April 2019 study in the journal SLEEP suggest better sleep quality and less sleepiness are significantly associated with a richer and more diverse gut bacteria.

 

Toxic chemicals

In September 2017, the FDA banned triclosan in anti-bacterial hand soaps, but companies still add the pesticide to some dish soaps, personal care products and Colgate Total toothpaste.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says triclosan may cause changes in the hormone system, and harm reproduction and development, and studies show it may also alter healthy gut bacteria.

In fact, according to a May 2018 study in the journal Science Translational Medicine, mice who were fed a diet laced with triclosan for 3 weeks had significantly lower levels of a species of bacteria that has been shown to be anti-inflammatory. 

 

Lack of physical activity

Exercise is important for kids’ overall growth and development and of course, it can prevent childhood obesity but studies suggest a lack of physical activity can affect gut health, regardless of what they eat.

According to an April 2018 study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, (which was conducted in adults) regular exercise increases short-chain fatty acids which promote gut health.

How to give kids healthy gut bacteria

Fortunately, there are several ways to improve your kid’s gut health, both with diet and healthy habits.

Eat the rainbow

A whole foods diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables of all colors gives your kid the nutrition she needs for a strong immune system. These foods also contain prebiotics, or non-digestible food ingredients, that work with probiotics, the live microorganisms found in the gut, to grow and work to boost your child’s immunity.

Add fermented foods

Kefir tastes too tangy for me but my kids love it and that’s a good thing. The probiotics found in kefir and other foods like yogurt, kimchi, and naturally fermented vegetables, including sauerkraut and pickles can help improve gut health.

Consider taking probiotics

As previously stated, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hasn’t recommended regular use of probiotics in children because there’s a lack of evidence for their efficacy. Of course like any supplement, if you want to give your kid probiotics, check with his pediatrician first.

Get moving

Getting your kids outside is always ideal but during the dog days of winter or on snow days when you can’t get out, put on music and have a dance party or enjoy a game of Twister.

Let kids play in the dirt

Encourage your kids to get outside and get dirty—whether it’s digging up dirt, playing with the dog, or planting a garden together to expose them to healthy gut bacteria.

10 Foods High In Probiotics For Kids

Your kid’s diet is one of the best ways to promote a healthy gut and fortunately, there are many foods high in probiotics.

1. Kefir

Kefir has a healthy dose of probiotics but read labels and you’ll discover most brands of kefir are high in sugar.

If you’re going to feed your kids fruit-flavored kefir, it’s probably OK as long as they have a low-sugar diet but keep portion sizes in mind. A better option however, is plain kefir which you can add fresh or frozen fruit to and blend into a smoothie.

2. Green peas

Green peas are an excellent source of fiber, protein and vitamins A, C, B6, and K, magnesium and folate.  Surprisingly, they’re also probiotic-rich. In fact, a December 2018 study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that a particular strain—leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides—can boost gut health. The study was conducted in mice however, so it’s not clear if the same findings can be replicated in humans.

3. Sourdough bread

Sourdough bread is made with a fermentation process that uses wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that’s naturally present, making it a good source of probiotics.

Your kids may not immediately take to the taste of sourdough bread so serve a small piece with a pat of grass-fed butter, which has a dose of probiotics too.

If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, I recommend Simple Kneads.

4. Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the best foods high in probiotics. According to a March 2018 study in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy, babies who ate yogurt on a daily basis reduced their risk for allergies and eczema by up to 70 percent. The authors note however, that it’s unclear what type of yogurt and how much is actually beneficial.

When reading labels, look for brands that state “live and active cultures.” Also, avoid yogurts that are fruit-flavored or contain fruit because they’re usually high in sugar. Sugar can feed unhealthy bacteria in the gut so to get the full immune-boosting benefit, aim for yogurt that has less than 9 grams of sugar per serving.

5. Fermented pickles

Most kids love pickles, but most pickles on store shelves won’t cut it. To get the benefits of probiotics, you’ll want to look for pickles in the refrigerated section and those brands that are labeled “naturally fermented,” like Bubbies.

6. Kimchi

A popular Asian side dish, kimchi is a naturally fermented cabbage that contains probiotics and is rich in vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate and iron. Since kimchi is a bit spicy, give your kids a small amount alongside their favorite foods and they may actually try it.

7. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, another type of fermented cabbage, is a good source of probiotics as well as fiber, calcium and magnesium, vitamins B6, C and K, folate, iron and potassium. Most store-brands of sauerkraut don’t contain probiotics however, so look for those that state they’re naturally fermented.

8. Miso

A traditional Japanese condiment that’s made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, miso is one of the best foods high in probiotics. A good way to introduce miso to kids is to offer miso soup since it has a mild flavor and it’s delicious.

9. Coconut milk yogurt

If your kids can’t consume dairy or your family is dairy-free, coconut milk yogurt is a great option.

Like many types of yogurt however, coconut milk yogurt can be high in sugar so read labels carefully. Or find plain, unsweetened versions and add fresh berries for added fiber and a hint of sweetness.

10. Tempeh

Made with fermented soybeans, tempeh is a great source of probiotics as well as protein, iron and calcium.

Add tempeh to your favorite stir-fry or salad, or use it in place of meat on taco night.

Don’t forget prebiotic foods

 

It’s also a good idea to offer your kids foods rich in prebiotics, which are non-digestible food ingredients that work with probiotics to boost your child’s immunity.

Prebiotic rich foods include onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, barley, oats, wheat bran, apples, Jerusalem artichokes, flaxseeds, cocoa, seaweed.

 

Do you feed your kids foods high in probiotics? Which ones do they like the best? Let me know in the comments.