8 Supermarket Shortcut Foods To Make Healthy Eating Easy

8 Supermarket Shortcut Foods To Make Healthy Eating Easy

The new year always comes with the best intentions: eat healthier, work out more, get more sleep and cut down on all that stress.

When it comes to your kid’ health, perhaps you’ve made a commitment to stock your kitchen with healthy food, cook more and share more family meals together.

Those are all great New Year’s resolutions to have of course, but so often we find ourselves back to our old habits come February.

Between work, after-school activities and every other obligation you have, carving out time to plan, shop and cook gets really challenging.

With some healthy eating hacks and a few supermarket shortcut foods on hand however, you don’t have to rely on processed foods, ready-made meals and grab-and-go options to make sure your family stays on track.

Here are 8 supermarket shortcuts that will make healthy eating a breeze all year long.

1. Salad kits

My family has become hooked on a salad kit made with shaved Brussels sprouts, shredded cabbage, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. Not only is it healthy and delicious, but having a salad kit on hand helps us pull together dinner in minutes flat.

When choosing a salad kit, always read labels since many salad kits are high in calories, sodium and sugar and use low-nutrient greens like iceberg lettuce instead of dark leafy greens.

2. Spinach

High in iron, spinach is also a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins A,C,E, B6, folate, magnesium and calcium.

Pre-washed baby spinach (organic when possible), cooks super-fast and can be incorporated into almost meal you’re making.

Sauté spinach with olive oil and garlic, add it to soups, stews and stir-fries or incorporate it into a quiche or frittata. Raw spinach can be mixed with other salad greens or used for your morning smoothies or green juices.

3. Frozen fruits and vegetables

Since frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak freshness and flash frozen, they may be healthier than fresh varieties. In fact, a June 2017 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found in some cases frozen produce is more nutritious than fresh that’s been stored in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Stocking your freezer with a variety of frozen options will help you pull together meals in no time. Add frozen veggies to pastas, omelettes, or a stir-fry and incorporate frozen fruit into smoothies and yogurt or serve it as dessert.

4. Beans

Beans are one of the healthiest foods for kids and make for a quick and easy meal.

Add canned beans to tacos, fajitas, soups and stews, serve them solo in your kid’s lunch box, or puree them into a healthy and delicious bean dip.

5. Tempeh

If you’re looking to add more plant-based protein sources into your meals, try tempeh.

With more than 5 grams of protein in every ounce, tempeh is also high in fiber and magnesium.

Since it’s made with fermented soybeans, tempeh is also a great way to get probiotics into your kid’s diet.

Marinate tempeh and bake it, slice it thin and sauté it with vegetables, or swap crumbled tempeh for meat in your favorite Mexican dishes.

6. Canned fish

One of the best supermarket shortcuts to help your family eat healthy is canned fish like salmon, sardines and anchovies.

Packed with protein, low in saturated fat and rich in micronutrients, fish is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support kids’ brain health and memory.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend kids eat fish 1 to 2 times every week, starting at age 2.

If your kids refuse to eat fish however, try non-sneaky ways to incorporate small portions into their meals. For example, serve canned salmon as a dip paired with cut up raw vegetables, top toasted whole-grain bread with a bit of anchovies, or add a few sardines to pasta dishes.

7. Edamame

An excellent source of protein, fiber, iron and magnesium, edamame (soybeans) are high in calcium: one cup of provides 97 milligrams.

Purchase edamame frozen or fully cooked and add it to rice dishes, soups and salads or serve it as a side dish. You can also serve edamame as an appetizer before dinner when kids are hungry and more likely to try new foods.

8. Quinoa

Quinoa, a seed, is high in both protein and fiber as well as B vitamins, which support the nervous system.

Quinoa is also a quick and easy grain that can be served for breakfast with fruit and cinnamon, mixed into a yogurt parfait or as a side dish for lunch or dinner.

8 Tips For Teaching Kids How To Cook

8 Tips For Teaching Kids How To Cook

One of the best ways to get your kids to eat healthy now and throughout their lives is to teach them how to cook healthy meals.

My kids have been helping me in the kitchen since they were toddlers and we all have a lot of fun cooking and baking together.

I don’t want to give you the impression that I’ve got the cooking chops of Martha Stewart and my kids are little chefs who follow suite, however.


Not even close.

 

Most of the time when we cook together, I try to strike a balance between teaching and keeping them busy and avoiding messes, mishaps and meltdowns.

Last week, I even let my 5-year-old use a vegetable peeler and pairing knife to prepare carrots for a large family dinner.

I nearly had a heart attack worrying that she might lose a finger, but I showed her how to cut away from her fingers and I watched carefully.

Benefits of Cooking With Kids

 

When kids learn how to cook, it’s an invaluable—and one might argue—essential life skill.

Kids not only learn how to prepare meals, they also learn about nutrition, portion control, math, science, and food safety.

Cooking improves their literacy, critical thinking and fine motor skills.

Studies show people who cook at home eat healthier, eat less, and have better control of their weight, so it’s also a healthy habit to teach now.

 

Need more reasons? Check out  5 Surprising Benefits of Cooking With Your Kids.

Tips To Teach Kids How To Cook

Cooking with your kids can be a fun, valuable activity for the whole family. Here are some tips to help you make the most of it.

1. Review the safety rules

Before you can teach your kids how to chop vegetables, sauté garlic and beat eggs, they’ll need to learn some food and kitchen safety rules.

Make sure they wash their hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before prepping food and after handling raw meat, poultry and fish.

Teach them to avoid eating uncooked food (licking the spatula counts!) and putting their hands in their mouth.

Lastly, teach your kids to be careful around knives and kitchen appliances with sharp blades, use caution around a hot stove and oven, use oven mitts and how to hold a pot handle.

2. Keep it age appropriate

When teaching your kids how to cook, think about their age and maturity level.

Three to 5-year-olds can help pour and mix, turn on the food processor, wash produce and add seasonings, while older kids can break eggs, peel and chop vegetables, measure ingredients, read recipes, stir food on the stovetop and put food in the oven.

3. Let them choose

When kids feel empowered to make their own food choices, they’re more likely to eat healthy.

When you’re not in a rush to get dinner on the table and you have time to experiment, let your kids pick out a new recipe or decide on the type of meal they’d like to make.

Make a list of ingredients and go grocery shopping together, which teaches them all the steps that are required to pull a meal together.

4. Make it more fun

Professional chefs are creative, know how to experiment, and problem solve in the kitchen—skills you can teach your kids no matter how inexperienced you think you are.

Try new recipes, swap an ingredient, substitute a spice or change the cooking method. Your kids may surprise you with new ideas too.

5. Clean up together

Teaching kids how to properly clean the kitchen is just as important as teaching them how to cook.

Little kids can (gently!) put bowls and cooking utensils in the sink, while older kids can load the dishwasher, wash and dry pots and pans and clean and disinfect cutting boards and countertops.

6. Get some cool gear

You can make cooking even more fun but buying your kids their own aprons, kid-sized cutting boards and utensils or a colorful stool to reach the counter.

7. Spread the joy

Cooking will bring your family together but it’s also a good opportunity to teach your kids about contributing to a family meal and helping others.

Let them help you prepare Thanksgiving dinner, bake treats for the school fundraiser or cook a meal for a friend in need.

They’ll feel so proud that they had a hand in making the meal and making others happy. Of course, the memories you’ll make will be priceless.

8. Let it go

 

Cooking with your kids will definitely take longer than when you cook alone and you’re guaranteed a mess afterwards.

I’ll admit, this is a #momfail for me. I like to clean the kitchen as I go, and when something spills, I sigh.

When I relax however, and don’t make a big deal when soup splatters or some flour spills on the floor, it’s a much more enjoyable experience for everyone.

Feeding Toddlers: What, When and How Much To Feed 1- to 3-year-olds

Feeding Toddlers: What, When and How Much To Feed 1- to 3-year-olds

Your toddler is walking, running, climbing—and growing by leaps and bounds every day.

As you continue to introduce table foods and he gets to explore new, exciting textures, flavors and tastes, you probably have a lot of questions about feeding toddlers such as what your toddler should eat, how often and how much.

If your toddler is a picky eater (most are and it’s completely normal) you’re probably concerned about whether he’s eating enough and if he’s getting the nutrition he needs.

On the other hand, if your toddler is eating too much, that might also be a concern especially because nearly 1 in 4 children start kindergarten overweight or obese, a January 2014 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found.

Here, learn everything you need to know about feeding toddlers, including the foods to focus on, the right portion sizes, and when to offer healthy meals and snacks.

How much should my toddler eat?

After their first birthday, toddlers’ growth isn’t as rapid as it was during the first year of life. Still, they continue to grow at a slow, steady rate.

Despite their increased activity, their appetites may also slow down. Since they’ll be busy with more exciting activities, they may also not be interested in eating.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says toddlers should eat approximately 40 calories per inch of height. Depending on your child’s age, size and activity level, that can vary between 1,000 and 1,400 calories a day.

How often should toddlers eat?

Toddlers should be offered three healthy meals and two healthy snacks a day but it’s OK if your child isn’t interested in eating or refuses to eat.

A toddler’s appetite can change day to day and persuading or pushing your child to eat is a bad habit to teach. If he eats when he’s not hungry, he won’t learn when he’s actually hungry or full.

Without the ability to recognize his hunger and satiety cues, he may grow into an older child and adult who overeats.

Pushing your toddler to eat when he’s not hungry can also make mealtimes a negative, unhappy experience for you and him, so it’s best to let him decide if he wants to eat and how much.

When should toddlers eat?

Be sure to have a schedule of regular meal and snack times with some flexibility built in. Toddlers should eat approximately every 3 hours but again, if your tot isn’t hungry, it’s OK.

Not only is routine good for toddlers, but eating regularly prevents their blood sugar from crashing and ensures they’re never overly hungry.

Teaching your child to eat regularly is also a healthy eating habit you’ll want your toddler to have throughout life.

What are toddler portion sizes?

It can be tricky to figure out healthy portion sizes for toddlers and easy to overestimate how much food to serve.

When my kids were toddlers, I never really knew how much they should be eating. Although I never pushed them to eat, looking back, I realize their portion sizes were way too large.

Portion sizes for toddlers are much smaller than you may think. For example, the AAP says one serving of vegetables is equal to one tablespoon for each year of age.

A good rule of thumb is to serve your toddler a quarter of what a healthy portion is for an adult.

What foods should toddlers eat?

The AAP has general guidelines for the types of foods and portion sizes toddlers should consume each day.

Just as their appetites can change however, so can their food preferences so don’t stress if you don’t meet all of these requirements all of the time.

Vegetables and fruits

2 to 3 servings of each a day.

Grains

6 servings a day, at least half of which should be whole grains.

Milk/dairy

2 to 3 servings a day

Protein (meat, fish, poultry and tofu)

2 servings a day

Legumes (peas, lentils and beans)

2 servings a day

What foods should toddlers avoid?

The toddler years are an important time to expose children to a wide variety of new, healthy foods.

Although a baby’s food preferences actually start to form during pregnancy, the foods they like and dislike continue to develop throughout the toddler years.

Unfortunately, for many toddlers those opportunities are too often being replaced by foods that lack nutrition and are high in sodium and sugar.

In fact, a June 2018 study led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found toddlers between 19 and 23 months consumed an average of 7 teaspoons of added sugar on any given—that’s more sugar than a Snicker’s® bar!

Stick with whole foods, instead of fast food, processed, packaged and prepared foods and limit sodium, saturated fats and sugar.

Tips for Feeding Toddlers

When it comes to food, the toddler years can be tough. Your child may have willingly accepted a variety of fruits and vegetables when he was a baby, but getting him to take a bite of broccoli now is proving more difficult.

My advice: stick with it.

So many parents say their kids are picky eaters and turn to quick, easy, processed foods and frozen kid-friendly meals just so their child will eat.

But this habit actually reinforces picky eating because kids don’t have the opportunity to eat real, healthy, whole foods.

The key is to continue to offer healthy foods and the right portion sizes and let your child feed himself, whether he wants a small bite, the whole meal or nothing at all.

Teaching toddlers what to eat, when to eat and how to have healthy eating habits will help to ensure they’ll grow into healthy, lifelong eaters.

Is Your Kid An Extreme Picky Eater?  Some kids who are extreme picky eaters may have an eating disorder known as Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Is Your Kid An Extreme Picky Eater?

Some kids who are extreme picky eaters may have an eating disorder known as Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

If you have a kid who is an extreme picky eater or selective eater, you know how frustrating it can be.

You do your best to serve a variety of healthy foods.

You beg, plead and negotiate.

You try hiding vegetables in meals but your kid is onto your sneaky tactics.

Although most kids’ extreme picky eating behaviors are considered normal, for some it’s not and they may have an eating disorder known as Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID).

Here, learn what ARFID is, the signs to look for and what you can do about it. 

What is Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder?

Previously referred to as selective eating disorder, ARFID is an eating disorder in which there’s a limit in the amount or types of foods kids consume.

“Their food repertoire is so limited that they can’t maintain their body weight, [and], they have health issues,” Dr. Jocelyn Lebow, a child psychologist at the Mayo Clinic stated in this article.

Unlike kids who are only picky eaters, a child with ARFID doesn’t consume enough calories to grow and develop properly, which can result in weight loss, weight gain that’s stopped or slowed and stunted growth.

Kids with the disorder have a lack of interest in eating or food and can flat out refuse to eat a lot of the time.

These kids often have challenges at school or in other environments where food is involved like a kid’s birthday party, family gathering or social event. Unlike anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, kids with ARFID don’t have the same problems with body shape or weight and don’t try to lose weight.

They may also need to rely on nutritional supplements or a feeding tube to get the nutrition they need.

How common is Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder?

Kids (and adults) of any age can be diagnosed with the disorder and although there’s not a ton of research, experts say ARFID is relatively rare.

A few studies found that of kids who were admitted into a pediatric inpatient eating disorder program, between 5 and 14 percent were diagnosed with ARFID, while of those in an eating disorder day treatment program, up to 22 percent were found to have the disorder.

According to an August 2014 study in the Journal of Eating Disorders, the average age of kids with the disorder is 11-years-old. Females are also much more likely than males to have the disorder (79 percent versus 20 percent).

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder: Signs and Symptoms

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder was only recently recognized in 2013 when the DSM-5, the handbook by which healthcare professionals diagnose mental disorders, included the eating disorder.

Aside from the extreme picky eating behaviors, two of the most obvious signs that a child may have ARFID are significant weight loss and a downward trend of their normal growth curves.

Not only do kids with the disorder refuse to eat, they may even gag or choke at meal times.

Other symptoms like constipation, abdominal pain, lack of energy and concentration, dizziness and sleep problems may also be a sign of ARFID.

Without treatment, the disorder can cause severe nutritional deficiencies that can lead to serious, even deadly health consequences and impact a child’s social functioning with family and friends.

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder: Risk Factors


Experts aren’t sure what makes one child over another at risk for the eating disorder, but some risk factors have been identified. These include:

1. Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

(ADHD) or intellectual disabilities have a higher risk.

2. Kids who don’t outgrow the normal picky eating behaviors that most kids experience, especially during the toddler years.

3. Kids with other mood disorders, anxiety disorders, cognitive impairments, pervasive development disorder (PDD) and learning disorders are likely to also have ARFID, according to the same study in The Journal Of Eating Disorders.

Is ARFID the same as picky eating?

ARFID and picky eating are not the same. Kids with ARFID have dramatic weight loss and nutritional deficiencies.

Picky eating usually involves only a few foods, and a child’s appetite, how much they eat, and their growth and development are normal.

Kids with ARFID are not interested in food and eating and typically avoid food because of a color, texture, smell, taste or temperature.

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder: What You Need To Know

If your child’s extreme picky eating behaviors don’t seem to improve, he has any of these symptoms or you’re concerned about his health, a good first step is to make an appointment with his doctor to look at how his growth is charting.

If there are concerns about his weight and nutrition and your doctor suspects ARFID, a child psychologist who specializes in eating disorders can help.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is typically the treatment of choice to help kids eat in a more normal, healthy way and overcome their fears and anxieties about foods.

Treatment will also likely include a specific diet plan with calorie goals, multiple food exposures and regular monitoring.

For more information and to find help, visit the National Eating Disorders Association.

10 Things I Do To Keep My Kids Healthy + Prevent Childhood Obesity

10 Things I Do To Keep My Kids Healthy + Prevent Childhood Obesity

With more than one-third of children who are overweight or obese in the U.S., obesity and obesity-related chronic health conditions will be a lifelong reality for our children if we don’t do something about it now.

Although my kids are healthy, we have relatives on both sides of the family who are overweight or obese.

There’s also a strong family history of hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes, anxiety, depression and mental illness, so taking steps to keep my kids healthy is one of my priorities as a parent.

Here’s a list of things I do to keep my kids healthy now and throughout their lives. One word of caution: these ideas are meant to inspire you, not make you feel like a failure.

1. I cook and eat with my kids

Cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner (yes, seriously), is perhaps the best way to keep my kids healthy.

I know exactly what goes into their meals and how the meals have been cooked and I can better control how much they eat than when we eat out.

I also cook with my kids, which has made them more likely to eat healthy and try new foods.

In fact, a November 2014 study in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease found kids who took cooking classes or cooked at home ate more fruits and vegetables, were more willing to try new foods, and had an increased confidence in their ability to prepare meals.

Studies show eating family meals together—something we do every night—is also positively associated with kids who eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight.

2. I serve vegetables at most meals and snacks

Look in my refrigerator and you’ll find plenty of vegetables: broccoli, cucumber, celery, peppers, asparagus, and salad.

Veggies have filling fiber that satisfy kids’ hunger, balance their blood sugar, and take up space in their bellies to keep them feeling fuller longer.

Eating vegetables at every meal and snack is also one way to prevent them from gaining weight.

My kids eat salads and vegetables for lunch and dinner, they often have a fruit and vegetable smoothie for breakfast and munch on carrots and cucumbers for snacks, for example.

3. I watch their portion sizes

Although my kids eat a healthy diet, they often eat too much. They frequently ask for seconds or for fruit after dinner.

Fruit isn’t a big deal of course, but I try to teach them about portion sizes so they will learn healthy eating habits.

One way that helps them understand healthy portions is to encourage them to use a measuring bowl or cup.

When I allow them to have a packaged snack, I also talk to them about reading food labels. I explain the serving size and servings per container so they know how much they can eat and how much they have to save for another time.

4. I don’t buy a lot of processed, packaged foods

Crackers, cookies and granola bars are really easy and convenient, but most are high in calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar, all of which can negatively affect their health and lead to weight gain.

Many of the kid-friendly foods and snacks are mostly refined carbohydrates, which lack fiber, spike their blood sugar and increase their sugar cravings.

When my kids are allowed these snacks, they know it’s a treat and not something they’ll eat every day.

5. I read labels and watch sugar

Like most parents, I watch my kids’ intake of obvious sources of sugar like cookies and candy but sugar is sneaky and can show up in surprising places like cereal, yogurt and barbecue sauce too.

Kids should consume less than 25 grams of added sugars a day and with the new Nutrition Facts labels being rolled out this year, it will be easier than ever to decipher between natural and added sugars.

I make it a point to read labels and check the added sugars, but I’m also cognizant of natural sugars, which can be concentrated in foods like dried fruit, for example.

6. I get my kids moving

I’ll admit it: making sure my kids get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise every day is one area that’s challenging for me.

Between working full-time, school, homework, after-school activities and other obligations, it’s hard to carve out time.

Although it’s not ideal, my daughters take gymnastics class 1 to 2 times a week and then I find opportunities to get them up and moving.

For example, we’ll take a walk before dinner or go on a bike ride. When it’s raining or cold, we might play a game of Twister or have an indoor dance party.

7. I limit screen time

Much to my chagrin, my kids love the iPad just like every other kid in America. “I hate those iPads!” is something you’d hear me say if you were a fly on the wall.

Screen time makes my kids tired and irritable and they get addicted to it.

Studies also show too much screen time is linked to sedentary behaviors, which can lead to childhood obesity and other chronic health problems so I often set a timer and set limits.

In fact, a January 2014 study in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology found teens who spent more than 2 hours a day behind a screen had a higher body mass index (BMI) as well as metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increases their risk for heart disease and stroke.

In August 2018, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement about the issue and strongly suggest parents limit all screen time to 1 to 2 hours a day.

8. I prioritize their sleep

Making sure your kids get enough sleep is just as important as eating healthy and exercise.

Without enough shut-eye, their hunger hormones can get all out of whack and make them more likely to reach for junk food and skip breakfast, one study found.

I do my best to make sure they’re in bed every night at the same time or within a half hour. If that means that our reading time is cut short, so be it. Sleep is too important.

9. I don’t serve juice and sugary beverages

Consuming fruit juice, soda, sports and energy drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages can easily spike a kid’s blood sugar and lead to weight gain.

According to a January 2018 review in Obesity Facts, 93 percent of studies found a positive association between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity.

I let my kids have juice or lemonade for a special occasion like a friend’s birthday party, but otherwise they only drink water, homemade green smoothies or green juices.

10. I lead by example

I eat healthy and exercise for my own health and well being but it’s a really important way to keep kids healthy.

Although they don’t always like that I leave every morning for the gym, they know that it makes me healthy and happy, which makes me a better mom.

 

What are some habits you have to keep your kids healthy? Let me know in the comments!