Archive Page 2

The Semi-Vegetarian Lifestyle

In the past several years, as our kids have grown and we have gotten older, Tracey and I have begun to adopt a six-days-a-week vegetarian lifestyle. We’re not talking just salads or pastas every day, but eating a diet that is heavily produce-and-grain based, one that is fresh, seasonal, and filling. Because of this, we are at work on a new cookbook that will share some of our favorite vegetarian recipes. Do you and your family eat more vegetarian dishes than ever before? If so, what kinds of recipes are you making for your family? If you’re in need of inspiration, check out Real Food for Healthy Kids‘ chapter on Meat-Free Mains. My favorite is the Harvest Tomato Tart, which has a whole-wheat parmesan crust. Yum!

–Tanya

We’re Nominated for Another Award!

Given every three years, Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards “provide global recognition to the very best in the international food and drink publishing and broadcasting industries.” We have been nominated in the category for Best Children’s Cookbook. The award ceremony is May 3, and is held in Australia so while we have family in Oz we won’t be able to go, as Epicurious is nominated for a fifth consecutive year for the best food web site by the James Beard Foundation and its awards are May 2 in New York (we won it in 2008 & 2009) . Thank you to the judges, and thank you to the readers, for this amazing accolade.

–Tanya

Healthy Snacks for Kids

During spring break my family spent some time at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy at the IMG Performance Institute. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. my boys did warm ups, drills, and match play in the hot Florida sun. As my kids aren’t used to the extreme heat, sun, and exercise,  I asked Dr. Sally Parsonage, head of nutrition at the institute, what tips she could give us for healthy snacks and keeping the boys at peak performance:

1) Hydrate properly: Instead of drinking water, refuel with a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade. If you’re exercising for hours and just drinking water, you are diluting your body fluids and not replacing your electrolyte balance. So, I mixed the kids’ water with a healthy dose of a sports drinks and then served them up at a big glass of pure Gatorade at the end of every day.

2) Eat a diet rich in complex carbs: Pasta, rice, bread and other carbs should make up roughly half of your kid’s daily intake when he or she is exercising a lot because carbs constantly refuel the body. The remainder of the diet should be protein and lots of fibrous, vitamin-rich produce.

3) Have three meals a day plus snacks: Parsonage recommends eating meals two hours before a big day of playing sports and then topping it up with snacks 20 minutes before actual play.

4) Only eat healthy snacks. Bananas, granola bars, an apple, these are perfect snacks for kids to eat during their day of sports. Sugary snacks will only spike their blood sugar up and then bring it rocketing back down, resulting in fatigue and loss of focus.

–Tanya

No Bake Sales but Doritos Are Ok?

Say what? New York City Public Schools have passed an amendment barring homemade treats for fundraising efforts but packaged, unhealthy foods are still kosher to sell: As reported in The New York Times City Room blog, ‘”No homemade or unpackaged items are on the list of “approved” foods because “it’s impossible to know what the content is, or what the portion size is,” said Kathleen Grimm, the deputy chancellor for infrastructure and portfolio planning, who oversees the regulation.”‘

It’s ridiculous that it’s verboten to sell someone’s homemade brownies or cookies because we can’t decipher the exact calorie count or whether it was made with peanut oil, but selling items like Doritos or Oreo’s are fine. Effectively we are reinforcing to our kids that chemically enhanced fake foods are safer to eat than homemade ones, which are at least made with real ingredients. The simple answer is to sell muffins, cookies, brownies, and quick breads that have less sugar and more whole-wheat flour than the traditional recipes or manufactured versions. Check out our dessert chapter in Real Food for Healthy Kids, or some of the recipes here for healthy options.

–Tanya

New Cholesterol Study for Kids Paints Disturbing Portrait

This week’s news that one in five children under the age of 18 have borderline high or high cholesterol is extremely disturbing but with one-quarter of our children overweight or obese, it’s hardly surprising. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “current research shows that the stage for adult heart disease (also known as cardiovascular disease) is set early on. So, the organization is changing its 10-year-old policy on cholesterol and urging.”

AAP is now advocating cholesterol screening at routine check-ups; cholesterol-reducing drugs for children as young as 8 with unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, or excess weight; and for those who seem at risk for such issues, starting toddlers on low-fat milk instead of the whole variety. Given that heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S., it seems we can’t start low cholesterol diets too early.

–Tanya Steel

Easy Christmas Cookies

Real Food for Healthy Kids has over a dozen healthy cookie recipes, but this one is particularly good for making Christmas cookies:

Simply Splendid Sugar Cookies
King Arthur’s white whole-wheat flour is preferable for these yummies. Use festive sprinkles on them if baking them for the holidays.
Prep: 10 minutes plus cooling
Baking: 24 minutes
Speed Limit: 34 mpr
Makes about 40 cookies

2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 large egg
1 1/3 cups white whole-wheat flour, such as King Arthur
1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
White sugar sprinkles, for rolling

1.    Arrange the racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Get out 2 large cookie sheets and line with parchment paper. Place some white sugar sprinkles in a small bowl.
2.    Prepare dough: Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, baking soda and salt and beat at medium speed until incorporated. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Add the flours and mix at low speed until blended, scraping down the bowl once or twice.
3.    Scoop up enough dough to form into a 1-inch ball, rolling between the palms until smooth. Roll the dough ball in sugar sprinkles and then place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat, arranging a dozen coated dough balls evenly spaced on each sheet and then, using a drinking glass, press on dough balls to flatten to about 1/4 inch thick.
4.    Bake cookies about 12 minutes, switching and rotating the pans half way through, until cookies are golden and somewhat firm to the touch. Transfer cookies with a metal spatula to racks and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Cooks’ Note:
You can use chocolate “jimmies” or other sprinkles for coating the cookies before baking. The sugar comes in colors, but we prefer not to use artificial coloring. Coarse sugar sprinkles are available in specialty stores; we like them better than the kind you can typically get at the supermarket. Indiantree.com offers sugar sprinkles that are dyed with vegetable juices—the pink, orange and yellow are particularly pretty.

per cookie:
90 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated), 10g carbohydrates, .5g fiber, 1g protein

Thanksgiving and Kids

I’m thankful I have healthy, happy kids and I am also thankful that they are always willing to try any new food once. They took bites of asiago-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon (loved!), creamed spinach from Real Food for Healthy Kids (liked), sweet potato puree with streusel topping (one loved, one hated), and local goat cheese with smoked salmon on walnut bread (liked not so much). What did you make for Thanksgiving and what did your kids love?–Tanya



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