Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup

It is getting that time of year when some parts of the country are becoming colder. On these cooler days many find comfort in a bowl of soup.  Soup can be a great way to pack in the nutrients.  It was the recent cooler weather that inspired me to create this soup.  I love roasting cauliflower because I love the sweet flavor the roasting brings out and when I was in the mood for soup I thought the roasted cauliflower was a great flavor base for this recipe.

After roasting the cauliflower to achieve the flavor I decided to blend it with a potato to make a very creamy and delicious soup. This recipe can be modified to meet the needs of those with specific diet needs.  The soup is gluten free (make sure the broth does not contain wheat).  It can also be made to be milk free as well.  If someone is following a vegan diet this soup can be made vegan if vegetable broth and/or milk alternatives are used for liquids and topped with toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley.  The base of the soup includes various vegetables to provide a variety of nutrients and the seasonings can be adjusted to taste if someone needs a food that is lower in sodium.  Below is the recipe.

Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup

2 heads of cauliflower, chopped

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic minced

½ of a medium sized onion

½ cup chopped carrot

2 potatoes, chopped

½-1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

5-6 cups of vegetable broth

1-2 cup of milk, milk alternative, or additional broth (Depending upon the desired consistency-If you prefer a thinner soup, then more liquid will need to be added).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the chopped cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread the cauliflower out on a large cookie sheet and roast in oven for 30 minutes.  While the cauliflower is roasting pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a large heavy duty saucepan or Dutch oven.  Add the onions and sauté until soft.  Add garlic, potatoes, carrots, and Italian seasoning.  Sauté until the cubed potatoes are browning.  Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the roasted cauliflower.  Place the soup in batches in a high powered blender.  Blend in batches until smooth.  When blended add back to saucepan and place on low simmer.  Add the milk, milk alternative, or additional broth to achieve desired consistency.  Suggested toppings- shredded cheese, bacon, corn, croutons, toasted pine nuts, or fresh parsley.  Enjoy this on a cold day.

Cauliflower Soup no spoon

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Recognizing Nutrition Needs of “Extra”ordinary Kids.

Nutrition needs of “extra”ordinary children

With the release of the movie “Wonder,” which is based on a book where the main character has Treacher Collins Syndrome, people are becoming aware of being inclusive of others no matter their ability or appearance. This is an issue that needs to be discussed in our society.  One of the things to keep in mind is that children with these “extra”ordinary needs have unique nutrition needs.  This is mentioned in the book “Wonder” as the main character has trouble chewing.  As a pediatric dietitian I have spent my career working with these “extra”ordinary children and their families and I wanted to write something that educates others on some of their specific nutrition needs.

Nutrition needs of “extra”ordinary children:                                                      

  • Some of these children may drink from a bottle or sippy cup much longer than other children their age. The reason for this is that their parents have likely worked with a medical team that includes a therapist to find the safest way for their child to receive hydration. Oral skills may be delayed and that is why their transition to other cups may not be the same as their peers.
  • Depending upon the child’s ability to chew or swallow some of these children may be dependent upon tube feedings. Tube feedings are provided to allow the child to receive adequate nutrition because either it is not safe for the child to swallow or the child may get tired when eating, making it difficult to take all the calories they need to grow.
  • Puree foods may be given longer than infancy if an “extra”ordinary child has trouble with their chewing skills. This can allow a child to still receive nutrition by mouth without having to chew if that is something that is difficult for the child. It does not mean that the child cannot chew it means that they may not be efficient enough to take in all of their calories with highly textured food.
  • Meals may take a longer since they may not be able to chew as quickly or efficiently as other children. This may mean that “extra”ordinary kids will be allowed to have more time to eat at school.
  • “Extra” ordinary children may also have sensory issues and these sensory issues may affect the types of foods that they accept and/or their meal time routine. If a child is overwhelmed by a lot of noise they may not be able to eat. If they have sensitivities to textures they may not be able to eat certain foods or overly prefer others. For example, they may prefer foods with crunchy textures because they like the sensory input it gives them.
  • Someone outside of the child’s life may think parents are feeding “extra”ordinary kids items that may not seem “healthy”. These items could include cheese puffs, veggie straws, or certain types of crackers. Sometimes these items are suggested to children that have difficulty chewing because a child can take a bite and then it can easily dissolve in their mouth, which allows them to get used to textures. This is likely something that parents may be giving for therapeutic reasons under direction of a feeding therapist.

I encourage all of you to either see the movie “Wonder” or read the book. Please remember these unique nutrition needs of “extra” ordinary children as we move to be a society that is more inclusive of all.

*In the photograph there are two books other than “Wonder” pictured.  “Out of my mind” is by Sharon Draper and is about a girl who travels in a wheelchair and is unable to communicate until she gets a special communication device and then the world around her discovers how smart she really is.  “Ugly” is a memoir by Robert Hoge and it is his story of growing up with a face that looked different from others.  My 11-year-old has read all of these books and loved them.

Encouraging kids to learn about food.

Best books for kids about food and nutrition

The holidays are fast approaching and gifts are going to be purchased. Books make a great gift for any kid and if you are interested in helping your child learn more about food then maybe you should consider giving them a book about food.  I have looked at many children’s books about food and nutrition over the years, but before I would show it to my kids or recommend it to others the book has to meet certain criteria.  Here is what I look for in a book about food and nutrition for kids:

  • The book needs to focus on what to eat and not what we should not eat. Children generally accept positive messaging.
  • A theme that encourages fear of food is not one that I would recommend to children. We do not want to teach kids at an early age to fear what they eat. This could lead to selective eating and eventually eating disorders.
  • A book that includes great pictures of food is also great as good visual appeal may encourage a child to try something new.
  • It is also nice when a book can be used to teach children about foods in different cultures as this can help encourage acceptance and understanding. Some children may pack more non-traditional foods for lunch and a book that educates others about different food cultures can be used as a way to stop teasing that could happen in the lunch room.

Suggested books about food and nutrition for kids:

This is the way we eat our lunch: A book about children around the world by Edith Baer. The book is told in rhymes and includes some recipes at the end.

Dinner at the panda palace by Stephanie Calmenson. This is a counting book and it received a 5 star rating on amazon.

Eating the alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert. A lovely alphabet book that includes many exotic fruits and vegetables.

Fast Food by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. The book offers beautiful pictures of fruit and vegetable sculptures.

The beastly feast by Bruce Goldstone. This story is about a group of animals that come together for a potluck dinner.

The vegetable show by Laurie Krasny Brown. A group of animated vegetables encourage healthy eating.

This Year’s Garden by Cynthia Rylant. This book tells the story of how seasons change by how a garden changes.

The Ugly Vegetable by Grace Lin. A story of a young girl questioning the appearance of an “ugly” vegetable garden compared to beautiful flowers. She learns a lesson when she tastes the soup these ugly vegetables make.

Any of these books would be great for a gift or a good find on your next library trip. Reading these books can be a fun and interactive way to teach your kids about food in a relaxed manner.

 

The Fourth Meal: Feeding the younger swimmer

The Fourth Meal: Feeding the young swimmer

About 3 years ago when my son participated in the city recreational swim league and placed first in every event he swam in the city finals, I realized I may have a swimmer on my hands.  So after a couple of years in the rec league he showed interest in swimming for a competitive team in the winter.  I want to state that I am not a supporter of sport specialization at young ages.  I allow my kids to participate in 1 sport per season and the year my son decided to swim he had to make the choice between basketball or swimming.  Swimming was appealing to me as a parent because I did not see it as a sport that resulted in a lot of impact on the joints and it is a sport that someone can participate in for a life time.  However, as a dietitian specializing in child nutrition I was nervous because swimming is a high calorie burning sport and I worried about how that would impact my son’s growth.  I really wanted to make sure I was refueling him after every practice so he could replace the calories lost so the increased activity would not impact his growth.

The fourth meal was a concept I learned from other swim moms.  On the days of swim practice dinner was served early and the fourth meal refueled the swimmer after practice. The timing of the practice made providing the 4th meal a little challenging as practice ended about 30 minutes before it was time to get ready for bed, but I felt since dinner was served early the 4th meal was important.  Therefore, I could not make a large meal for him because I did not want him to go to bed too late.  My solution was to pack a meal/snack that he could eat on the way home so when he got home he could put the final touches on homework and then go to bed.

Ideas for the portable 4th meal:

  • Fruit smoothie (frozen fruit, water, and orange juice or lemonade), ½ of ham and cheese sandwich, and Pretzels
  • Yogurt, Fruit, Whole grain crackers, and Water
  • 8 ounces of milk  mixed with chocolate instant breakfast powder and Banana
  • Ham, cheese and mushroom whole wheat quesadilla, Apple slices, and Water
  • Milk, Cherry Tomatoes, Clementine Orange, and Pretzels

Typically, I serve something from at least 2-3 food groups.  I usually do not offer a sport electrolyte beverage, but try to offer foods that will offer electrolyte replacement.  Offering fruits and vegetables will help provide potassium.  Offering pretzels, crackers, nuts, or deli meat will provide some sodium.  Offering dairy, meats, nuts, or legumes will provide protein to help with muscle recovery.  I also try to make fluid part of the meal as a smoothie or milk, but if not then water is offered with the snack/meal to encourage fluid replacement.

If you have a young and growing athlete at home I encourage you to check out Eat like a Champion by Jill Castle at the Nourished Child.  Most sports nutrition information is about elite competitive athletes and this book is geared toward the unique needs of the young athlete.

 

What happened when I served a snack tray for dinner?

What happened when I served a snack tray for dinner

I recently started to see pictures of elaborate snack trays or charcuterie trays on various social media pages and I was interested. Last week I was trying to figure out what I could serve for dinner that I could prepare ahead, use up some food I already had, and have it be something I could serve quick between activities.  When I took stock of what I wanted to use up, which was some fruits, vegetables, and cheese, I remembered these great pictures of snack trays and thought that might be the answer to what I could serve for dinner.  I was able to make it up before I left to run errands and pick the kids up from school and then served it as soon as we got home.  The great thing was everyone found something that they liked and I was able to serve a meal that represented all the food groups.

Snack Trayedited

This is a picture of the genuine snack tray I served my family. It did not compete with some on the internet pictures, but I wanted to show you all something that was realistic.  I used a cookie sheet and placed the various items on the tray or in bowls around the tray.

Another reason that this could be your answer to dinner dilemmas is that it can be made to accommodate many diet needs. See the following for my suggestions on how to make your snack tray for dinner meet the needs of various family members.

Typical ideas for a snack tray:

Various meats and proteins- lunch meats, roasted chicken, smoked salmon, tuna, or hard boiled eggs

Cheeses- hard cheese, soft cheese, and cheese spreads

Fruits- grapes, raspberries, apples, plums, and orange slices

Vegetables- cherry tomoato, cucumbers, celery, carrots, sugar snap peas, and radishes

Breads and Crackers- baquette, seed crackers, and whole grain crackers

Nuts and seeds- almonds, cashews, pecans, and pumpkin seeds

Spreads and sauces- fruit spreads, honey, spicy mustards, and nut seed butters

Gluten Free Snack tray ideas:

Meats- Check to make sure the meats do not contain fillers that may contain gluten.

Cheeses- Most Cheeses should be fine, but make sure there is no cross contamination when slicing.

Fruits- They are always gluten free.

Vegetables- They are always gluten free.

Crackers- Suggest using the gluten free seed crackers or nut crackers.

Nuts and Seeds- They are typically gluten free, but check those nuts that have flavor coatings on them.

Spreads and sauces- Read the label to make sure the spreads and sauces do not have gluten in them.

Vegan Snack Tray ideas:

Protein foods- Roasted Chickpeas, edamame, nut butters, seed butters, and various nuts.

Fruits- Choose from various fruits.

Vegetables- Many vegetables would be good, but may want to include some of the veggies chips that are popular like sweet potato or beet chips.

Crackers- There are various crackers that are vegan.

Spreads and Sauces- Various flavored mustards, hummus, or bean spreads.

There are other nutrition needs that may need to be accommodated, which include nut free and dairy free. For nut free omit the nuts and nut butters and read cracker labels carefully to make sure there are no nuts in the product.  For dairy free leave out the cheese and cheese spread.  Also, look for milk as an ingredient in crackers.  I hope this has given you another quick dinner idea that you can incorporate with your family.

 

 

 

Being part of the “Sandwich Generation”

How to balance eating when you are part of the “Sandwich Generation”

This will be the last in a series about nutrition challenges at different stages of life. I am ending with the stage of life I am in.  My current nutrition challenge is that I am a member of the sandwich generation.  The sandwich generation can be defined as adults between the ages of 35-59 that are caring for both young children and aging parents.  How does this affect my nutrition?  Well, I have recently started to make more 3 hour trips to my parents, which means that I am not home as much to do the food prep and cooking. Also, I am on the road a lot and do not eat the best because I have not thought ahead to pack something because I was busy preparing for my time away. Some of this has left me disappointed in myself and feeling guilty if I do not always have the perfect homemade foods for my family.  I have been trying to implement a few practices in my life to balance my health and nutrition while I tackle this stage of my life and I would like to share them with you.

Give myself a break. If I have just come back from a 3 hour drive and the kids need help with their homework or shuttled to an activity I am not going to beat myself up over not having a home-cooked meal for them. I would rather focus on spending time with them.  If they can help make a meal, that is great, but if they have homework I would rather devote time to that.  Some of the convenience items I may use on nights like this include:

  • Frozen ravioli or tortellini with pasta sauce from a jar served with fruits and vegetables.
  • Utilizing quick prepare rice that you can find either in the freezer aisle or the grocery shelf as a base for a quick stir fry or topped with an Indian Sauce (Aldi makes a great Tikka Marsala sauce that I will simmer canned chickpeas in to serve over rice).
  • Scrambled eggs (with additions like chopped veggies and cheese), toast, and fruit.
  • Boxed macaroni and cheese with some vegetables added and served with fruit. Yes, I use boxed mac and cheese as a quick meal because my son can start dinner for me more easily if needed.
  • Choosing a restaurant to eat as a family. The reason for this is sometimes it is the best way to spend time with the family and the kids can get homework done while we wait for the food. Plus, after a long drive I am not always in the mood to cook.

Be active. I know the recommendation is at least 30 minutes a day, but if I can get 20 minutes in that is better than nothing. I like to get activity in the following ways: taking the stairs rather than the elevator, parking your car farther away from a store on purpose, finding an exercise videos on-line, taking a walk, or playing outside with the kids.  This can be a stressful time of life and exercise is a very healthy way to manage stress.

Drink plenty of water.  I always keep a glass of water or water bottle handy to sip throughout the day.  Would suggest that you stay away from fluids containing caffeine later in the day (coffee, tea, or soda) so it does not interfere with your sleep.

Plan ahead. This does not mean I plan out what we are eating weeks in advance. I have found that my best strategy is to make sure I have items to make about 3 meals per week for dinner and then the rest of the time the family can have left overs.  I also make sure that there are fruits and vegetables ready to eat.  This is great for the kids to grab and encourages me to grab something healthy too.  Also, when I am traveling to my parents I try to pack some healthy snacks I can eat on the run as well as plan what meals I will make for my parents when I am with them.  Depending upon the challenges your loved ones face, meal prep may be difficult and having some kind of plan for when you visit will help everyone stay healthy.  If I am staying at my parents for a few days I will check with my parents to find out what food they have at home that needs to be used up and start planning a grocery list of foods to prepare for them while I am there.  This allows me and my parents to eat well.

I hope some of you that may also be in this stage of life have found this helpful. I wish all of you the freedom to feel the balance in your life.

 

 

A letter to my future teenagers

In the recent weeks I have highlighted some different issues at different life stages. I started with infancy and moved to the toddler and preschool years.  Recently, I wrote about how to handle sugar related with the school age child since that is the age where they have greater food influences away from home.  Now is time to move on to the teenage years.  I have recently heard of adolescent and teenage years referred to as a re- birth because it the most rapid time of growth (both physically and emotionally) outside of infancy, therefore nutrition is very important.

I am in the pre-teen years at my house and as I ponder the arrival of the teenage years I decided the best way to express my nutrition concerns for those years is as an open letter to my children.

To my boys,

I am writing to let you know what my wishes are for you about how you see food and your body as you enter your teenage years .

My first wish for you is that you not skip meals.  I realize that as a teenager you are going to need more sleep and you may want to sleep rather than eat breakfast, but be certain that as long as you are under my roof someone (either your father or I) will offer you breakfast.  I promise to have smoothies, breakfast sandwiches or burritos, trail mix, muffins, and grab and go fruits at the ready.  However, do not think I will be making all your breakfasts for you.  It is my goal that by the time you graduate from high school you will know how to make all of these items and be able to teach all of your college roommates how to do it.  The reason I wish a daily breakfast upon you is that I want you to learn how to regulate your appetite (not skip meals and then eat a few large meals late in the day) and I want you to be able to concentrate at school so you can feel like you are doing your best.

My second wish for you is that you fully learn proper knife skills to be able to make your own fruit and veggie snack plate. The reason many families do not use up produce is because people do not take the time to cut it. Some even admit that they do not know how to cut and serve some fruits and vegetables.   I hope that by teaching you this I will not walk into your apartment someday and find the smell of rotten fruits and vegetables that have never been eaten.  I promise that I will do my part to keep fruits and vegetables at the ready and have the appropriate knives and cutting boards for you as well.

My third wish for you is that you do not classify foods as “good” or “bad”. Always have a healthy relationship with food and how it relates to your body. I hope I have taught you what your diet should consist of a majority of the time, but I also hope you know that if the local ice cream shop is having a monthly special on your favorite flavor that it is ok to have a scoop when you are hungry and not feel like you have to run 5 miles to “work it off.”  Food is not meant to be evil it is meant to nourish you.

My fourth wish for you is that you are never ashamed or upset about how your body looks. Every teenager develops and grows at a different rate. Some may be 6 feet tall at 14 and others may not reach full height until after high school.  You are unique and there is no one else like you.  I never want you to feel less than someone else because of your size, whatever, it may be.  If you accept your body for what it is I believe you will nourish it to be great.  At this time of life your body change is natural and everyone your age is going through it, but maybe at a different speed.

My final wish is that I never want to fight about food in your teenage years (or any other time).  Let’s make a deal.  I will purchase the food that I believe is the best for your growing body and you will decide what to eat and how much to eat.  I only ask that you utilize some of the cooking skills you have been taught to help.  I know we will likely have many disagreements in the teenage years, but let us not have food as one of those disagreements.

Please know that any suggestion I make about food comes from a place of love. I believe that food is part of being healthy in the body, mind, and spirit.  I desire for you to be healthy in all those areas of life.

Love, Mom

Resources:

Healthy Breakfasts for teens:

http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/healthy-breakfasts.html#

A link to a video that talks about knife skills:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ydc_SaQ_eRQ.

How this dietitian handles sweets for her kids.

Fall is here and with that comes a season of eating with holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. As I continue my series on nutrition issues that affect us through the lifetime I am going to provide you with some tips for handling the holiday sweet extravaganza.  I do not know if I handle the season perfectly and some may disagree with my approach, but I will share some of my tips.

Eating dessert or a sweet treat is not dependent upon eating a vegetable or any other food. When we are at a potluck or family get together, I allow my kids to get the dessert along with the rest of their meal if it is served at the same time. If I happen to make a dessert at home I serve it with the meal and if they eat it first, that is their choice.  The reason for this is I constantly hear people telling kids that they need to eat their vegetables to get the cookie.  This causes them to learn that the vegetable is undesirable, but the cookie is.  This also may cause children to eat when they are full because they are not having the cookie because they are hungry.

Freeze cookies and candy and save for a later time.  Typically, I will allow the kids to eat Halloween candy or holiday cookies when it has been collected or baked, but after a few days I freeze the candy that is chocolate and may freeze holiday cookies as well.  This helps the family to not overeat for a the days the cookie and candy is available.  I save these items for other times like going to the movies or on Fridays when they are allowed to pack a special treat in their lunch.

Handout an alternative to candy for trick or treat or holiday parties. Yes, I am that mom on the street that gives out the trick rather than the treat. It is not that I do not enjoy Halloween candy (in fact I secretly look through my kids candy for the peanut butter chocolate covered pumpkins), but I realize that most parents do not enjoy the pillowcases of candy that come through their doors.  Also, giving out an alternative to candy is allowing for inclusion of kids with food allergies and children that may not eat by mouth and are tube fed.  Ideas for alternatives to candy are stickers, pencils, glow sticks, stamps, note pads, bubbles, temporary tattoos, and, etc.

Do not use the treat as a reward. This further teaches children to eat when they are not hungry or encourages them to eat based on emotions and not hunger. When my kids ask for a food that is considered a treat and it is not close to meal time my first question for them is “Are you hungry?”  If it is right before a meal and I was not planning to have dessert be part of the meal I will say “We are getting ready to eat our meal, but when you have your snack tonight you may choose to have that as your snack.”  If they have accomplished something, like good grades, I try to reward them with things like a book, one-on-one time with a parent, or possibly mom vs. kids at their favorite game.

There is research to support my approach. There have been several articles published that link chronic restriction of palatable food (like cookies and candy) to children having increased consumption of that food and more likelihood of the to child experience emotional eating.  For those who are interested in the science behind my method I have included references to the articles at the bottom.

Articles:

Fisher JO and Birch LL. Restricting access to palatable foods affect childrens behavioral response, food selection, and intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999; 69: 1264-1272.

Farrow CV, Haycraft E, Blesset JM. Teaching our children when to eat: how parental feeding practices inform the development of emotional eating-a longitudinal experimental design. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015; 101: 908-913.

Rollins R, Lohen E, Savage J, and Birch L. Effects of restriction on childrens intake differ by child temperament, food reinforcement, and parents chronic use of restriction. Appetite. 2014; 73: 31-39.

Just a spoonful of sugar

Just a spoonful of sugar

When asked what nutrition concerns parents have about their preschool and school aged children, many have expressed concern about sugar intake. This concern was heightened last year when the American Heart Association and other major medical organizations announced that children should limit their sugar intake to 25 grams or less per day or about 6 teaspoons (4 grams are in a teaspoon).  As a dietitian, my first thought was how can I educate families on these new recommendations and then as a parent I think about how am I going to achieve this.  When I pondered both of these situations I actually became a little soured about the timing of this recommendation.

I do agree that the sugar intake in our country needs to be lowered and I am glad that there are some specific guidelines, however, I feel like the resources and supports for parents to be successful with this are not in place yet.  In May of 2016, a plan for changing the food labels on packaged foods was announced to be rolled out in July of 2018. The new label was to include how much added sugars were in a product per serving, which may make it easier to follow new guidelines.  However, this roll-out of the new label has been delayed.  To learn more about the new food label follow this link: https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm#images

Another area that needs to be addressed is increasing education and guidance in areas outside of healthcare that seem to use sweets and treats too frequently as rewards or giveaways.  Schools, businesses, churches, and other community organizations need to be educated on how sweet treats are not the only way a child’s accomplishments can be recognized.  This education needs to include alternatives to sweet treats as a motivator such as stickers, pencils or other items.

The third thing that concerns me about the timing of recommendations is that many food companies will simply replace the sugars in products with artificial sweeteners.  I would rather see more effort by food companies to provide products that use fruit pureesin their products as sweeteners or use less sugar without replacing it with artificial sweeteners.  It should be clarified that fruits are natural sugars that include other important nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  Substances such as honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc. are still considered added sugars.

So now that I have expressed my concern with the timing of these recommendations, I am going to share some ways to try and decrease the sugar in your child’s diet:

  • Limit juices, fruit punch, soda, and sugar sweetened sports drinks. Only offer water or milk (or milk alternative) with meals.
  • Purchase plain yogurt and sweeten with a small amount of sugar (which is likely less than added to an already sweetened yogurt) and fresh or frozen fruit.
  • When making baked goods try decreasing the amount of sugar the recipe calls for by at least ¼ and research experimenting with using fruit puree, dates and unsweetened applesauce as a sweetener.
  • Offer fresh or frozen fruits as a snack more frequently. My kids have devoured down on frozen strawberries because they taste like a popsicle.
  • Try and reward your children for good behavior or good grades with things other than treats. Other ideas include a trip to the park, earning some extra screen time, stickers, or playing their favorite board game.

I hope this gives you some realistic ideas on how to start decreasing the sugar in your child’s diet, but also plants some seeds on how raising healthy kids is not just the job of the parent, but society.

Pre-school = Snack Sign-Up

Pre-school = Snack Sign-Up

The preschool age can be really exciting for kids and parents because children are becoming more independent. Some preschool age children are going to school for the first time and others are continuing with daycare. Parents may also be responsible for bringing a snack for the entire class as part of a snack schedule and based on allergy guidelines for some preschools parents may be left wondering what to bring.

I would like to provide you with a few ideas on preschool snacks and I want you to remember that this can be a good time to introduce some different foods to your child and their friends.  The reason is because many preschools, especially if they are ½ day programs, have meals and snacks offered to kids pretty close together.  When my son was in preschool his schedule was like this:

7-7:30 am- Breakfast at home

8:00-8:15 am- Drop off at preschool. If the free breakfast was still being served he may have a second breakfast if it was something he liked.

8:30 am- Started class and a snack would be offered sometime between 9 am- and 11 am.

11:30 am- I would either pick him up and he would have lunch at home or he would stay for an aftercare program and eat the lunch I packed or a lunch provided by the school.

When I looked at this schedule I realized that he and his classmates went to class with full bellies and typically left class and ate lunch right away.   Therefore, when it was my turn to bring snack I tried to shake things up a little bit because I figured they were not going to starve if they did not like the snack.

Things to keep in mind when preparing the class snack:

  • Many preschools require that the snack have 2 different food groups to meet requirements for accreditation. Even if it is not required I think this is a good rule. I would also recommend always including a fruit or vegetable as part of the snack. Do not have fruit juice count as a fruit because the amount of sugar in the juice negates the fruit that is in it.
  • Include at least one item that kids will see as more familiar. For example, one time I brought a small salad with dressing, but on the side included fruit or whole grain crackers as a familiar item.
  • If it is approved by the teacher try to provide the snack in a way that the children can serve themselves. Rather than place foods in individual baggies make a platter of fruit and cheese or vegetables and crackers and include small tongs that the children can use to serve themselves. This helps to foster their independence and allows them to take the amount they want.

Suggestions for preschool snacks:

  • Chips and salsa
  • Salad mix with dressing served with fruit
  • Yogurt and fruit
  • Bagels and cream cheese with fruit
  • Carrot and celery sticks with cheese cube
  • Pita with hummus and red peppers
  • Hard – boiled eggs and carrots

*All of these snacks are nut free because many preschools are nut free. Please check with your preschool about allergy preferences and what their snack policy is.

Here is a throw back to when I had preschoolers.

Cole's PreschoolGrant's First Dayedited