Summer Fun Positive Food Activities: Make Your Own Muesli

Summer Fun Positive Food Activities: Make Your Own Muesli

By Nutrition Student, Deanna Ronne and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Team

Now that the summer months are here, as a mom you’re probably lining up activities to keep your kids busy. Here’s a fun, creative, way to get your kids involved in making a nutritious breakfast or snack balanced with all three macronutrients – carbs, proteins, and fats. A trip to your grocery store, choosing their favorite ingredients, and mixing it may become a weekly pastime to cherish the entire year! Making your own muesli is affordable, easy, packable for day trip snacks, and flexible with the ingredients so perfect for picky kids and promoting the health.

Main Stream Breakfast Cereals

Many traditional breakfast cereals marketed at your children are made with refined grains, hidden sugars (like rice syrup, corn syrup, maltose and tapioca starch), and other “food additives.” Take a look at the “ready-to-eat”1 boxed cereal you have at home. Look at the Ingredients list, not the Nutrition Facts). Ingredients are listed in descending order, so if you see sugar listed as the first, second or third ingredient, just realize your cereal contains more sugar than any ingredients listed after it. This is cool with us, just use this as information. Know that this cereal is likely a low nutrient dense food (aka “Sometimes Food”) and is best eaten as a side to a sandwich at lunch or with a more filling food.

Also look to see what and how many ingredients there are. Many of the ingredients you don’t recognize, known as “food additives”, are meant to enhance the product’s texture, taste, appearance, nutritional quality or increase its shelf life.2 While fortifying cereal with vitamins and minerals improve the nutritional quality, other food additives like flavor enhancers (ex. artificial sweeteners) and preservatives (ex. sodium) generally do not. Most children’s cereals with refined grains are enriched with the vitamins and minerals lost during the refinement process.

The American Dietetic Association released a study in 2008 on the nutritional quality of children’s breakfast cereal showing that they are significantly higher energy, sodium, carbohydrate, and sugar, and significantly lower in fiber and protein than “non children’s cereal”.1

So consider buying cereal products that are for you, rather than kids! They are just as yummy but more nutrient dense. Most importantly, kids are incredibly active during the summer months, and need an energizing breakfast, that will fuel their days in the sun and keep their body clocks ticking.

Did you know?

Stronger cognitive benefits in breakfasts of oatmeal than for “ready-to-eat” breakfast cereals1.

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The “Recipe”

There really isn’t a recipe, which makes this idea so fun! You and your kids get to pick the ingredients. Go to your grocery store (preferably one with a “­­­­bulk department”, like at Whole Foods) and let your kids fill a bag with a cereal base of oats, granola, etc. Then, let your kids to find the rest of the ingredients! The set-up of most bulk food sections much resembles a candy store, so your kids will love it.

Here are some ideas:

  •  Nuts/Seeds: Walnuts, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds
  • Grains: Millet, Oats, Cooked Wheat-berries
  • Dried fruit: raisins, cherries, dates, cranberries, shredded coconut (no added oils or sugar)
  • Optional: dark chocolate
  • Cinnamon: add cinnamon 1 tsp to 1 cup muesli.

Let your kids be creative with this recipe, even let each kid make their own! As long as the base of oats/granola makes up most of the cereal, the added ingredients should be entirely up to them (with your direction, of course). It is important that kids have a healthy relationship with food. Show them how excited you are to pick out nutritious ingredients for your own muesli, and they will get excited with you! Happy Eating.

Breakfast and Picky Eaters

Breakfast remains to be one of the most important meals of the day. If you are dealing with a picky eater who only wants to eat, say, Frosted Flakes for breakfast, it is okay. Most important is they eat something before they walk out the door. This is the same for Mom and Dad. While it is important to try new things with your kids, force-feeding doesn’t work. Instead practice exposure therapy, let them make their muesli with the main stream cereal if that helps them expand their nutrition repertoire.

  1. Schwartz, M. B., Vartanian, L. R., Wharton, C. M., & Brownell, K. D. (2008). Examining the nutritional quality of breakfast cereals marketed to children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(4), 702-705.
  2. “Global Food Additives Industry.” PR NewswireMar 19 2013. Web. 31 May 2015 .
  3. Bulk Foods Aisle in Grocery Store. N.d. “Photo Courtesy Photos-public-domain.com”, n.p.
  4. “Harvard University; Dietary Intake of Whole and Refined Grain Breakfast Cereals is Linked to Lower BMI in Men.” Lab Law Weekly (2006): 88. Web. 1 June 2015.

 

And He Eats!

And He Eats!
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Mom

Photo Credit: sean dreilinger via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: sean dreilinger via Compfight cc

Six years later, Billy finally eats. As many of you know, my two boys challenge my feeding and eating expertise on a daily basis. I think from all the Mommy RD stories here on Mom Dishes It Out, you now know that RDs have their fair share of food and nutrition conundrums. But like you, we need to separate our emotional-selves and work with our child. This is probably the hardest part. Being an objective feeder is quite the challenge. Don’t despair, your kids may surprise you..

 

I constantly have to remind myself to lighten up around the food and sometimes set more food boundaries. Just the other night, I bought chicken apple sausage and potato rolls for my oldest son. Bobby loves chicken apple sausage. However, it seems he only likes the sausage from Brooklyn. Anyway, we tried two new brands just yesterday. Bobby was trying it as a side to his dinner of rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and spinach. Billy excitedly comes into the kitchen declaring he will have a hot dog bun with peanut butter, two cheeses and a yogurt with a side of strawberries.

 

Here is conundrum number one. Do I allow him to dictate his meal? Conundrum two is whether he should try the chicken sausage. Because of my work with food phobias and eating disorders, I never want to force the boys to eat food and prefer exposure therapy. I let Billy know, he must first try chicken sausage on the hot dog roll. Of course, he verbally refuses. I have yet to understand if this is an animal thing, a chewing thing, a control thing or perhaps just a taste preference. I feel my blood begin to boil.

 

It is so hard to be objective. I proceed to make the sausage and set it on Billy’s plate. He is of course performing a song and dance. I also make Billy his requested dinner. I serve him both the sausage in a bun and his dinner preferences on the same plate.

 

Amazingly, he tries the sausage with one small bite. Not shockingly, he doesn’t like it. He eats his dinner. He doesn’t complain nor does he remove it from his plate. These are signs of his progress.

 

So, in the end we both faired well. I still feel defeated because he only took a small bite and he didn’t like it. But then I think back to March. The boys and I were eating dinner together. It was a simple dinner of tortellini. Bobby and I were eating it. I made Billy something else. All of the sudden, Billy says I want tortellini. I almost fell off my chair. Really??

Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc

Well, he did want it. He tried it and said it was dry. He wanted to try it with marinara sauce. He loved it. He basically had marinara soup with tortellini. Wow, that made my night and my month for that matter. The point is, after seeing us eat tortellini a million times, he tried it and liked it. Just like he has done with most fruit, breads and salsas. He typically tries food now without an issue. As long as it is not of animal origin. Well, the majority of the time.

 

In the end, Billy eats tortellini. We can go for Mexican and Italian food as a family and Billy can order off the adult menu. What a relief!! It has taken him six years to find a pasta he enjoys. I can’t wait to see what he likes over the next 6 years. Thank you Billy for teaching me patience is key while a little push is necessary, too.

 

Moms and dads, keep up your efforts to expose the kids to all foods and encourage trying foods. The act of trying is the most important thing. I know six years seems like a long time, and it is. But each child has his/her own process. Find what works for you and your child. Share with us your trials and tribulations. We can all learn and support each other. If you find yourself having a hard time keeping your feelings out of the kitchen, consult a registered dietitian or even a speech and language pathologist.

 

Looking for more tips? Check out our 7 Steps to Progress Your Picky Eater.

What Healthy is NOT

 

What Healthy is NOT

by Laura Iu, RDN

If you asked me a few years ago, what being “healthy” means to me, I wouldn’t have the slightest clue how to answer you. Imagine me 5 years back: I’m chugging Red Bull for a 9 AM class, and courtesy of the microwave, devouring mac & cheese for dinner 3 days a week. Yes, this was my freshman year at New York University, and at that time I knew nothing about the importance of nutrition (gasp!) Flash forward to present day, and I’m working at a private practice in NYC, providing in-home cooking classes, and working as the nutrition guru at Housing Works (more on that in my next post!) Without a doubt, you can bet my definition of what it means to be “healthy” has evolved tremendously over the past few years.

 

cooking

When I first began my studies at NYU, I considered myself fairly healthy. I was a pescatarian, went to the gym regularly, and also never restricted myself from any baked sweets or savory snacks. It wasn’t until my junior year, when I started taking core nutrition courses that I became hyperaware about the foods I ate and the amount of calories I consumed. After a class project where I was required to mimic a patient’s diet by logging the food I ate, the amount, and even using measuring cups to cook, I soon became paranoid about calorie counting. In fact, the time I spent on the treadmill was no longer fueled by enjoyment, but by the amount of calories I knew I had to burn in order to “zero out” part of that day’s calorie intake. Then within that same year, I met Laura Cipullo, a New York City dietitian who was surprisingly not at all a proponent of fad diets. In fact, she was the exact opposite. When I began working with her, I’ll admit it, at first I was skeptical. Does she really do pilates for enjoyment? Spinning? And running?? Does she really preach “all foods in moderation” and follow it too?!

Yet after the first few months of getting to know her on a personal level and working side by side–I discovered that it was all true. The next time I visited the treadmills, I covered up the numbers on the screen and instead focused on how I felt on the inside. And when it came to food, I slowly focused more on the nutritional quality of foods I was eating, rather than calories. From modeling her behavior and learning about the consequences of restricting foods, without even knowing it she motivated me to change the way I viewed food and to develop healthy habits. Although the ability to eat freely and without any guilt takes work, it’s certainly not impossible to get there! Remember that what you choose to eat (or not eat) for one meal or day(s) doesn’t negate all of the healthier choices you’ve made in the past.
cooking
As I’ve broadened my knowledge of food and nutrition, I’ve realized that working in the field by no means makes me perfect in the way I eat; but the way I eat is perfect for me. I’m at my happiest and healthiest when I’m able to cook my own meals, which I prefer to do instead of dining out. I love knowing exactly what ingredients are going into my food, which helps me eat healthier and allows me to experiment with new ingredients. When I’m not pretending like I’m a Chopped contestant at home, I’m always running from job to job around the city, and having my packed snacks on hand keeps me energized and happy.

 

*To read this full blog post, click here.

Yes, Yes, Panera Bread Co!

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Mom

unnamedJust two weeks ago I was invited to a very special dinner with head chef, Dan Kish, and nutritionist, Katie Bengston of Panera Bread Co. here in NYC. On this evening Dan and Katie shared Panera’s big update on their next “clean” journey milestone. It was the No No List. And I was impressed! I am placing my stamp of approval on Panera Bread Co. as a place moms can take their kids for lunch now and especially after 2016. Panera is removing artificial ingredients including the likes of sucralose and words you can even pronounce. Now I am not sure why they were in there in the first place, but I am ecstatic they are vowing to deliver wholesome and real food.

When visiting the burbs, I find it hard to find food to grab on the go for the kids and me. There is a Panera near my parent’s home that I sometimes frequent. I already loved the kid’s grill cheese with organic milk and a Stonyfield Farms yogurt squeezer. Now I can go there feeling confident that the kids and I are getting real food. My new favorites from the evening with the Panera Bread team are their flatbreads and their Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa Salad! Dan made us a delicious flatbread with tomato, and mozzarella. We all sat down at a big beautiful table and dined on their new delicious sprouted grain rolls, the Strawberry and Chicken Poppyseed Salad and the Power Kale Caesar Salad with Chicken. It was such as great evening, tasting the food and learning about Panera’s efforts to provide healthy and wholesome foods to all of us. I was so happy to learn that fresh dough is brought to each Panera Bread Co. from their dough centers. The trucks carrying dough from their 22 main facilities are also bringing in fresh greens, herbs, and even berries on a daily basis. Kudos to Dan Kish and his team. I hope other food establishments follow your lead. Thank you for thinking of our children and their health!

Here is the Panera Bread Co. No No List. It reads “We are committed to removing artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors
from the food in our bakery-cafes by the end of 2016. That list includes, but is not limited to:”

https://www.panerabread.com/panerabread/documents/panera-no-no-list-05-2015.pdf

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Avocado Accolades

by Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

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Hardly mainstream when I was a child, these curious fruits have become quite the versatile and popular food lately, and for good reason. I’ve been experimenting with these green beauties, and have to say I’m so impressed with the results! There are some wonderful reasons to include avocado in your family meals, and extremely easy ways to do so.

 

Because its flavor is mild, it’s easy on young, developing palates, and the texture is silky smooth, allowing parents to introduce it as one of baby’s first foods.

 

There are many things that make avocados …. awesome:

 

Fat: The heart-healthy fat found in avocados is primarily monounsaturated, amazing for children’s developing brains and helpful for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

 

Fiber: This feature, along with the fat, assists digestion and can help children who struggle with constipation.

 

Vitamins and Minerals: Avocados offer some great potassium, an essential electrolyte that runs our heart and assists in healthy muscle development. Additionally, they contains some Vitamin K and Vitamin E, both fat-soluble vitamins that assist in healthy blood clotting and provide strong antioxidant properties, respectively. The B vitamins, including folic acid, help in maintenance of a healthy nervous system, and are a key to unlocking the energy that other foods provide.

 

Flexibility and Versatility: You can work an avocado into endless meals in so many different ways. It lends well to whatever flavors you pair with it, and can be a nice change from typical condiments, spreads or dips.

  • Add some cinnamon and applesauce to mashed avocado for a sweet snack
  • Combine it with some tomatoes, onions and peppers for a dip with a zing
  • Try spreading some on your morning toast, then top it off with an egg
  • Dice some into your favorite pasta salad

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Here’s one of my latest finds:

 

Avocado-Egg Salad Sandwiches with Pickled Celery

To prevent avocado from browning in leftover egg salad, place any remaining salad in a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap. Then cover the entire bowl tightly with plastic wrap.

  • Yield:

Serves 4 (serving size: 1 sandwich)

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup mashed ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon canola mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons dry-roasted salted sunflower seeds
  • 8 (1-ounce) slices whole-grain bread, toasted
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 4 heirloom tomato slices

Preparation

  1. Add water to a large saucepan to a depth of 1 inch; set a large vegetable steamer in pan. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add eggs to steamer. Cover and steam eggs 16 minutes. Remove from heat. Place eggs in a large ice water-filled bowl.
  2. While eggs cook, combine 3 tablespoons water, vinegar, and sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until boiling. Add celery; let stand 15 minutes. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, combine avocado, mayonnaise, juice, mustard, pepper, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well until smooth.
  4. Peel eggs; discard shells. Slice eggs in half lengthwise; reserve 2 yolks for another use. Chop remaining eggs and egg whites. Gently stir eggs, celery, and sunflower seeds into avocado mixture. Top 4 bread slices with about 1/2 cup egg mixture, 1/4 cup arugula, 1 tomato slice, and remaining 4 bread slices.

 

 

Sydney Fry, MS, RD,

Cooking Light

May 2015

 

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

There’s nothing much better for breakfast than a hot fluffy muffin right out of the oven. The only thing that can make it better, is baking them with your children! With Mother’s Day coming this Sunday, we wanted to help you get the day off to a fun start with family time in the kitchen. For a twist, top each muffin with a dried banana chip for that extra special touch.  We’re sure that everyone will love these Whole Wheat Banana Muffins.

 

Photo Courtesy of Cooking Light
Photo Courtesy of Cooking Light

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 dried banana chips, optional

 

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F; mist a standard 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper or foil liners. In a large bowl, combine both types of flour with baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix bananas with eggs, sugar, milk, butter and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Fold banana mixture into flour mixture just until combined and batter forms; do not overmix.
  3. Spoon batter into muffin cups; place a banana chip on top of each one, if desired. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

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*The original post for this recipe can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Fear about Feeding

by Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD

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I have a love/hate relationship with feeding my son. I love watching him try new foods and learn skills like grabbing food in his hand. But on the other side, I am scared he will choke on something (he always seems to gag a lot) and I’ve had many moments of “am I doing this right?”

The only thing I know for sure is that there is no “right” way to feed a baby. As many mom friends have told me, it’s up to your mom instincts and a little bit of guidance from a doctor or dietitian. As a dietitian who doesn’t work with infants, I needed some help. I bought one of the best books, “Fearless Feeding” by Jill Castle and Maryann Jacobsen. (http://fearlessfeeding.com/) These two dietitians have saved me!! I also decided to sign up for an Infant Safety course to review CPR and choking. The class was scary but I feel more prepared. I also now know the difference between choking and gagging, which I learned is common when babies learn how to chew and swallow.

I’ve read the infant section and learned a lot so far. Now I know what’s appropriate for an infant in terms of food groups, portions, and signals to know hunger vs. fullness. I also have learned about introducing puree’s vs. baby-led weaning and slowly learning how to feed himself. The authors also review that as the amount of food goes up, the amount of formula will go down. My 9.5 month old is now eating 3 meals/day consisting of every food group. He mostly does purees and lumpy foods, but we’ve been working up to finger foods and he’s getting better at the pincher grasp every day. He will mostly eat oatmeal, soft mushy fruit, pureed veggies, potatoes, hummus, avocado or guacamole, fish, scrambled eggs, and bread. His favorite food is whole milk flavored yogurt- it tastes like dessert to me! My infant also needs me to feed him with a spoon vs. other babies might feed themselves at this point. I’ve learned to let him practice this in his own time. He has weaned himself down to 4 bottles per day, ranging anywhere from 4-8 oz (all depending on how much food he’s eaten). I’m still surprised at how variable my child’s appetite can be. Ellyn Satter (http://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/) created the Division of Responsibility, which says the parent is in charge of what and the child/infant is in charge of how much (and everything else).   I try my best to apply these principles now of healthy feeding behaviors to create a healthy relationship with feeding from the beginning.

I admit that even though I “know” a lot about this, I’m not a perfect mom. But who is? There are days when my child gets too much sugar and there are days when I realize he didn’t get any veggies. But there are also days where he eats a lot of healthy foods and I know he’s getting nutrition. It’s all about balance, variety, and moderation. These concepts aren’t just great for adults and healthy eating, but can be applied to children of all ages.

High-Protein Onion, Apple, Quinoa, and Kale Salad

We attended the Editor’s Showcase in February where we were able to sample different foods and learn the latest that’s going on in the food industry.  The National Onion Association and US Apple Association shared with us some of their recipes featuring both apples and onions.  Here is one we think you’ll enjoy!

Courtesy of National Onion Association
Courtesy of National Onion Association

Makes 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon honey Dijon mustard
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ sups tri-color quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 3 cups chopped kale, ribs removed and discarded
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 red-skinned apple, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 

Directions:

Dressing

  1. Whisk the vinegar with the oil, lemon juice, honey and mustard until well combined.
  2. Set aside.

Salad

  1. Bring the broth and quinoa to a boil.
  2. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until al the broth has been absorbed. Cool completely.
  3. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-height heat.
  4. Sauté onion for 3 to 5 minutes or until softened. Cool completely.
  5. In a large bowl, toss onion, kale, chicken, apple, salt, and pepper with prepared dressing.
  6. Stir in the cooled quinoa.