When kids are hungry, they are going to eat what they can scavenge, whether it’s a bag of exotic-flavored cheesie puffs or carrot sticks. Convenience food is whatever you deem it. It just needs to be easy to open and have the ability to be plopped into a waiting mouth. We fall into eating junky convenience foods when we are hungry, tired, time-crunched, or otherwise less discerning. (Picture me right before naptime running on little sleep. Exactly where are the chocolate chips? Tell Me!) I have been rethinking this concept of “convenience” since last summer when I fell in love with dried fruit. It required no peeling, minimal trash, and easy to pack. Oh, and all of my kids loved it. Continue reading
Middle E turned 3 this weekend. This toddler loves to crunch on the biggest carrots he can find in the crisper and freaks if I put fruit in his oatmeal. We’ve arranged a truce and he eats it on the side. Continue reading
Are you ever nervous to bring healthier options to social gatherings? Are you worried about getting the reputation of that unapproachable free-range-organic-momasaurus? Or nervous that you might offend another parent because you’re doing something different? Don’t panic. You can make a point about healthy food without making a fuss or a scene.
I attend a playgroup for mothers with young children. The traditional toddler snack served was the famous fish-shaped crackers and animal crackers. This was the norm because it was easy. I don’t have a problem with easy. I just have a problem with easy and over-processed, over-sugared, and over sodium-ed. Our adorable children sometimes suck out all of our brain cells so we can forget that a bag of baby carrots is just as easy to serve as a bag of crackers.
On Friday I was fearLESS and brought some sliced apples, carrot sticks, cheese cubes, and some yummy peanut butter yogurt dip. It took me about 10 minutes of chopping and mixing. Too long? Nope. The best part about this FearLESS Friday was that it wasn’t about showing off. I could have made whole-grain organic graham crackers from scratch or built elaborate flowers out of exotic fruits. But easy and healthy are friends and any mom can do this.
Are you dying to know how my snack was received? The kids polished off the apples, cheese cubes, and most of the carrots. I made a LOT of the Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip, so I am not sure how much was eaten. But my boys quickly polished off the rest of the carrots and dip in the car while I chatted with another mom.
You're only four ingredients away from a delicious dip. Serve it with bananas, strawberries, apples, celery, and carrots. Easily doubles or triples for serving to large groups of ferocious toddlers.
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon honey, agave nectar, or brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Mix all ingredients together with a spoon until consistency is nice and smooth.
- Serve along side with fresh fruits and vegetables that you have on hand. Apples, bananas, strawberries, celery, and carrots work well. This also works well as a spread on bread with thin slices of bananas and strawberries.
You may substitute vanilla flavored yogurt or pre-sweetened peanut butter (like Jif), just taste it before you add any honey. You may find it is sweet enough.
How were you fearLESS this week? Do you have other ideas for easy play group snacks for toddlers? Let us know all about it in a comment below or on the Don’t Panic Mom Facebook page.
Have you checked out the Adora Calcium Supplements giveaway? Entries close on Sunday night!
There is power in the hero. My 4-year-old son wears Superman, Batman, and Spiderman pajamas. He has never actually seen any of the cartoons or movies. He just instinctively knows they are cool. They are powerful.
Instead of villainizing candy, cheese puffs, and soda, I suggest we focus on food heroes in our homes. Talk up the “SUPER FOODS” or foods that will deliver a lot of nutrition to fuel their growing bodies. Think veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and fruit.
Junk food is engineered to taste good. Of course our kids (and we adults) like the taste of salt, fat, and sugar. But it won’t be pleasant at home to scold them for wanting junk. Instead, redirect. Tell them the heroic foods that they can eat. Your kids will listen as you discuss how carrots are good for their eyes. You can even call them, “x-ray vision carrots” to keep with the super hero theme. Don’t roll your eyes. It will work.
In a study conducted by Brian Wansink at Cornell University, when carrots were called “x-ray vision carrots,” 4-year-olds ate 62% more carrots than when only called “carrots.” Let your imagination run wild as you enjoy co-creating names with your kiddos.
One day my boys leaped with joy when they saw a bag of baby carrots. “Crunchers!!!” I had once referred to them as ‘crunchers’ and forgotten. But the boys certainly didn’t. There is power in elevating a ‘super’food instead of villainizing junk.
When you are faced with the dinner time whining about why you aren’t serving marshmallows, try redirecting them to a superfood! Leave a comment here or on Facebook with the fun names you come up with!
Read more details about Wansink’s study here.
Earlier in the week, Big P was strolling with me at a Sprouts Market. He errupted with glee when he saw parsnips. I laughed out loud. What 4-year old begs to take home parsnips? He was happily influenced by an episode of Curious George, his favorite monkey. Parsnips were (and have never been) on my shopping list, but I wanted to keep momentum with his veggie excitement.
We made a simple and delicious side dish that everyone liked. Phew. I hope all FearLESS Fridays are received without drama.
- 2-3 parsnips, washed, peeled, and diced into coins
- 2-3 carrots, washed and diced into coins
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Boil or steam carrots and parsnips until they are tender enough to smash. I boiled mine for about ten minutes. I'm sure microwave steaming would be much quicker.
- Strain veggies and place in a serving bowl.
- Mash away with a fork or potato masher.
- Drizzle on olive oil.
- Top with parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
I will post my ‘before and after’ shots as soon as we have 100 likes on our Facebook page! Keep sending friends over!
Yes. This pizza was inspired by my first-ever attempt at growing spinach. It tastes like heaven and has this amazing crunch. Who knew? Besides salads and quiche, I thought I’d use it to decorate a pretty pizza for my sweet little men.
Here is a great recipe that you’ll be using again and again. It is really quick and versatile for whatever veggies you have on hand. Plus, your family will like this infinitely better than one out of a freezer or delivered by a guy named Stanley. Double the recipe to have some leftovers for lunch. It packs great in a lunch box.
- 1 cup very warm water
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- sprinkle of sugar
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- any other additional spices (oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc.)
- Add the yeast water to the flour mixture. Mix with a spoon or your hands until the dough is nice and sticky. Let the dough sit while your oven preheats to 425 degrees.
- Sprinkle corn meal on a cookie sheet and get ready for the real fun! Dip your hands in a little flour and move the dough from the bowl to the cookie sheet. Press the dough into a shape that vaguely resembles a circle. (Mine usually come out in the shape of Madagascar.) Don’t panic if you need to use a little more flour on your hands.
- Once you are satisfied with your dough art, you are ready for the confetti toppings. This is where your children, especially toddlers, will feel really useful.
- Finely dice or shred any assortment of veggies (pictured: carrots, bell pepper, broccoli, spinach)
- Add a thin layer of your family’s favorite marinara sauce, followed by a layer of low-fat mozzarella cheese. Toss on your veggies. You may put out a cutting board or small bowls with all of the toppings and have your children or guests decorate with the “confetti.”
- Bake at 425 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the crust and cheese are golden brown.