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
I can still remember the joy I felt as a kid when my mom would put hot dogs into our boxed mac & cheese. That was fancy. The Blue Box was a big part of my diet as a kid. And why not? My mom says it was a cool new product for her generation of parents. It was cheap. It was easy. We all loved it.
So what’s the problem? There are too many mystery-science ingredients in that box. Tasty sounding items like sodium tripolyphosphate and sodium phosphate are there to help “retain the cheese’s melting properties.” Simply put, scientists are working too hard.
Why not simplify and do what Don’t Panic Mom, Chelsea Ellingson did: Ditch the box.
Our guest Chelsea Ellingson describes herself as, “a regular old Mom doing regular old things to keep my family healthy and happy.” She has three kids ages almost 6, 4, and 2. After teaching music part time for three years, she is now a happy stay at home mommy and a part time photographer. Check out her photography at Chelsea’s Attic.
Over the last year or so our family has made about a million and one small changes to our daily lifestyle to make better choices about the food we consume. Any change like this comes with its challenges, not because it is hard, but simply because it is a change, and change usually just takes some adjusting until it becomes routine, just like before. We chose to make some changes, and after some weight loss from the parents and lot of explaining about bodies and energy and food to the kids, we are all routined and happy again, until we get to a million and two.
So with that in mind, I have a recipe here that is both healthy and convenient (WHEW!). My kids had a real live love affair with boxed macaroni and cheese. It was their absolute favorite food. After looking at the ingredients on the box about every time I made it, I finally said to myself, “I know this stuff is almost completely fake, why am I feeding it to my children?” And with that I threw out the rest. But throwing it out of my children’s hearts would be another matter. So I started making it from scratch and found that it does not take a minute longer to make it with real ingredients than it does with fake ones. Wow! That was an easy switch in my mind, and the boxed stuff officially left our pantries for good. The best part is that my kids actually prefer this kind over the boxed kind. And frankly so do I. This is a kids meal I actually enjoy eating.
Drum roll, please.
Scared to ditch your kid's favorite boxed mac & cheese? Try this simply delicious recipe from Chelsea Ellingson that was approved by her formerly-box-loving children.
- 1/2 box whole wheat elbow macaroni
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 heaping tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 C milk
- 3/4 C shredded cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the elbow macaroni as directed on the box. While the water is boiling, heat a sauce pan on medium heat and melt butter in the pan. When the butter is just melted, mix in the flour until you have a thick, bubbly paste. Immediately pour in about half a cup of milk. Stir until thickened, then continue to add in the milk half a cup at a time, waiting to thicken each time, or until the sauce is at a desired consistency (your basic rue sauce). Add salt and pepper as needed. Dump in the shredded cheese and melt into the sauce. By now your macaroni should be done, drain the macaroni and place back in the pan. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and mix well. Serve into bowls and add more shredded cheese on top as desired.
My kids also enjoy this mixed with peas or white or black beans (or both) mixed in to add a little more protein and fiber.
Want to investigate the blue box a little more? I tried to find the ingredients on Kraft.com, but the ingredients list was a little elusive. If you want to read a bit about the ingredients head over to this review at Livestrong.com.
Are you ready to ditch the box? Or have you already? Let us know in a comment below or on the Don’t Panic Mom Facebook Page.
I used to think that supplements were just an excuse to avoid good eating. That’s until I met my children. Some days they will eat anything I put in front of them. Other days they put up a fight. Yes, even at the Don’t Panic Mom dinner table. Big P has a line that goes a little like this, “but I can’t eat the vegetables.” Your kid might say the same thing about drinking her milk. Or maybe he indignantly says yogurt is too slimy.
There are foods that we serve constantly to children because they need certain nutrients for development. So when they push away their source of calcium – we panic! All you need is a little creativity and finding different ways to meet your child’s recommended calcium intake. Yikes. That sounds really clinical. But it’s good to know how much to aim for for developing strong bones. Tweens and teenagers need the most calcium for bone growth, and the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that they aren’t getting it.
What are some of the best sources of calcium?
- Most foods in the milk group: milk and dishes made with milk, such as puddings and soups.
- Cheeses: mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, cottage cheese.
- Canned fish with soft bones, including sardines, anchovies, salmon.
- Dark-green leafy vegetables, such as kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok-choy.
- Tofu, if processed with calcium sulfate.
- Tortillas made from lime-processed corn.
- Calcium-fortified juice, bread, cereal.
- (List from the American Academy of Pediatrics)
Are you are having a tough time meeting your child’s calcium requirements through a traditional diet? Ask your child’s medical provider if a supplement is a good idea.
I first tried Adora Calcium Supplements at the Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference. At first glance I approved this product because they have a short ingredient list and only 30 calories a disk. I thought they would be chalky, but they are surprisingly smooth. I especially liked the taste of the dark chocolate disks. I also appreciated having a calcium supplement because I don’t have the best diet when I’m traveling. I happily areed to have my family try both the milk chocolate and dark chocolate disks. My kids loved them and for extra measure I had two sets of great-grandparents try them. They were almost unanimously accepted as yummy.
Do you need a little help meeting your toddler, tween, or teenager’s calcium requirements? Adora Calcium Supplements may be an ally while you help them learn to include calcium in their regular diet.
Do you want a chance to win 2 bags of Adora Calcium Supplements?
- To enter this give away, leave a comment below. Let us know what calcium-rich foods your family loves to eat.
- For another entry, “like” the Don’t Panic Mom Facebook Page. Make sure you leave a comment on the blog that you did.
- If you already “like” Don’t Panic Mom, invite a friend to “Like” the page and let me know about it in a comment below.
Still want to know more about calcium? Check out these links!
Look at this list to see how different foods measure up in supplying calcium from the National Institutes of Health.
Have a teen or tween? Read this article called Calcium: The Bone Builder from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Hi! I’m Nate, and I’m married to Alli, the Mom behind Don’t Panic, Mom. She is at the Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference for the weekend. So do things fall apart at home when Dad hangs out with all three kids by himself?
Not nutritionally, anyway.
Quick backstory: when I was single, I did my grocery shopping based on how many calories I could get for my dollar. I loved most of the foods that my dear wife now categorizes in the “crap trap.” Little Debbie was an influential woman in my life.
Things have changed. I still have a sweet tooth, but I am now quite content eating “sometimes foods” only sometimes. In fact, I now make better food choices because they make me feel better - not because my wife forces me do it.
However, because of my food history, I know Alli gets nervous about what I might (or might not) feed the kids while she’s gone. To prove that I didn’t just give up and grab Happy Meals, let me share today’s lunch.
My default easy-to-make lunch is usually some type of sandwich. On our walk, the boys requested tuna. Unfortunately, I discovered that we only had two slices of bread in the house, so I adapted this simple recipe:
Growing up, I always mixed tuna with gobs of Miracle Whip, and our sandwich cheese was usually Kraft singles. Now when I eat tuna with good seasonings and real cheese, I don’t miss the processed stuff at all.
The boys loved it, too. Success! Mom might be the professional, but even Dad can feed the kids right without panic.