Coconut Almond Crunch Granola Bars

By Laura Cipullo RD, CDE and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

FullSizeRender

From ready-made breakfasts to kids’ camp snacks, granola bars are a go-to choice for on-the-go moms and dads. What better way to enjoy granola bars, than making them yourself? They’re also a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen!

Time: 30 minutes cooking, 15 minutes cooling

Yields: 10 bars

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup nut butter
  • ½ cup dried fruits (raisins, craisins, dried cherries)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Toast oats on baking pan for about 5 minutes, shake or stir the oats on the pan once or twice.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.

3. Coarsely chop the almonds and place onto the pan with the shredded coconut and place in oven for about 8 minutes, the coconut will start to turn golden and have a light aroma.

4. While the nuts and coconut are in the oven, pour the honey and nut butter (I used creamy almond butter) into a small sauce pan on medium-low heat, stir occasionally.  Simmer the mixture for 3-5 minutes until it is a medium golden.

5. Remove honey and nut butter mix from heat and stir in oats, almonds and coconut.  The mixture may seem dry, but should be evenly coated.

6. Sprinkle in dried fruits (I used a mix of raisins, dried cherries and cranberries) at the end of mixing.

7. Pour whole mix onto parchment lined baking pan or 8 x 12 cake pan and spread evenly.

8. Compress the granola mix so that there are not any spaces (this will prevent your bars from falling apart when you cut them).  You can use the bottom of another pan covered in parchment paper to flatten out the mix.

9. Wait about 10-15 minutes for mixture to cool before cutting into 1 x 4in bars.

10. Store in air tight container and enjoy!

Fun Adaptation: This recipe also makes a yummy granola! Just crumble the mix after it cools or chop into smaller pieces for a fun yogurt topping!

Chewy Coconut Granola Bars

We know how hard it can sometimes be to please the palates of your kids.  Sometimes thinking of a new recipe to make for your kids can be put on the back burner because of other things that might come up.   Luckily, we have asked our friends at Cooking Light for some inspiration.  Their Chewy Coconut Granola Bars are a fantastic recipe.  It’s a new and refreshing recipe and you can even get your little chefs baking with you in the kitchen!

Photo Courtesy of Cooking Light
Photo Courtesy of Cooking Light

Ingredients

Cooking spray

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

3 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2/3 cup)

1.6 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1/3 cup)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons fat-free milk

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole-grain granola

3/4 cup chopped dried mixed tropical fruit

1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut

 

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Coat a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour.
  3. Weigh or lightly spoon 3 ounces all-purpose flour and 1.6 ounces whole-wheat flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Combine sugar, oil, milk, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until smooth. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Fold in granola and fruit. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with coconut.
  4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Screen-shot-2014-03-07-at-11.56.27-AM

 

The Harmful Happy Plate

The Harmful Happy Plate

by Julie Dillon, MS, RD, NCC, LDN, CEDRD

My everyday mealtime chaos includes my six-year-old daughter singing at the top of her lungs while my two-year-old son eats one bite then jets from the table. I think that it would be much easier if he still used his high chair, yet he rejected that contraption as soon as he could walk. This makes mealtime a bit messier and acrobatic in nature. In the blink of an eye, he goes from noshing on dinner to dancing in the living room. “We sit to eat” crosses my lips throughout the meal, and I lead him back to the table. Toddlers are distracted by nature, so we try to keep distractions to a minimum (no TV) and give him a high five when he sits safely at the table. We are clear about when meal time is over so he can get his fill, and he will sign “All done!” when his body communicates fullness. Sometimes this happens with a bite or three helpings.

Recently I received a text from a dear friend. She is raising her children to be intuitive eaters and modeling healthy ways of relating to food. With intention, this family neutrally represents food and teaches kids to eat when their tummies have the amount they need.

Luckily, our children are born intuitive eaters—yet our world is not. My friend and I often lament about how hard we need to work in order to shield our children from learning body distrust and body hate.

So imagine her surprise when my friend’s daughter finished dinner and announced that it was now a “happy plate.” I felt sadness when she texted the details. After getting clarification, my friend learned the Happy Plate practice exists at her daughter’s childcare center.

What is the Happy Plate? Often at daycare and family dinner tables, “Make it a happy plate!” can be heard when a child wants to leave the meal with food remaining. I have been told that it is done to encourage children to eat enough and be sure they won’t ask for more food shortly thereafter.

As a pediatric dietitian and eating disorder specialist, I strongly discourage this Happy Plate nonsense. My top three reasons include:

  1. The Happy Plate mantra encourages children to discount hunger and fullness cues. When we plate a child’s food or pack his/her lunch, we are not in his/her body nor are we able to predict with 100 percent accuracy the exact amount of energy he/she will need at that meal. If a child is full, do we really need to encourage him/her to eat more? What’s more, teaching a child to ignore hunger and fullness cues lays a foundation of negative body image and body distrust.
  2. “Make It a Happy Plate” cajoling teaches a child to eat to please rather than fueling his/her body. Eating to make another person happy normalizes disordered eating while omitting innate hunger and fullness wisdom.
  3. Happiness feels good and easy, so of course we prefer it. On the other hand, the human experience includes sadness, frustration, boredom, loneliness, anger, and a myriad of other emotions. Some feel comfortable while others do not. Discounting the fullness experience in favor of a Happy Plate transforms the eating relationship—and not in a good way. It spells out that eating past fullness can make us feel happy. It also makes our loved ones happy. Do we want to teach children to eat in order to make happiness?

What’s the alternative to the ease of the Happy Plate? Here are things to consider:

  1. Be sure to structure consistent meal and snack times. This helps a child respect hunger and fullness while tolerating hunger if he/she is hungry a bit before an eating time. When a child says he/she is all done, kindly remind her when the next eating time will occur. Do not provide between-meal handouts besides planned snacks.
  2. Children make mistakes when plating their own food. In order for a child to become a competent eater, you will have food waste. Save the starving children comments and acknowledge when a child listens to his/her body. An example: “You served yourself, and you decided you didn’t need all of it.” Keep it neutral because food decisions are not good or bad.
  3. If a child eats little at a meal and requests food outside of mealtime, kindly remind him/her of the next meal or snack time. If the child says he/she is hungry, teach him/her what to do. Say “Your tummy is hungry, so remind it that food will be available soon. It is just not time to eat.” NOTE: Need to consider child’s age and time until next meal. 
  4. Hold back the praise when a child eats everything on her plate. A child who ate all of her food and another child who ate half of the food served did an equally good job at that meal. This may feel unnatural, but it is the way to promote healthy ways of relating to food and positive body image.

MDIO Product Review: Garden Lites Muffins

MDIO Product Review:

Garden Lites Carrot Berry Muffins

These muffins are so tasty, even my picky eater approves of them!

Photo Courtesy of Garden Lites

Photo Courtesy of Garden Lites

With the most delicious taste accented by blueberries, everyone will love these adorable little muffins. The first ingredient is carrots so that is an obvious thumbs up. The second is egg whites so another thumbs up. And the third, a gluten free flour blend that contains brown rice, and flaxseed meal.

Screen shot 2014-12-15 at 2.00.46 PM

This is a great snack option for kids. Especially those who need to consume more veggies. Plus, they’re allergy-friendly and make a great snack for parents!

Help! My Child is a Picky Eater!

Dr. Heather Maguire is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and the author of the parent training manual, Get Ready… Get Set… Go! It’s Time to Create Behavior Change! As the mother of two young children, she applies her knowledge of behavioral science to everyday parenting. Visit her website www.drheathermaguire.com for more information.

Photo Credit: orangeacid via Compfight cc

Help! My Child is a Picky Eater!
By Dr. Heather Maguire

Kids, food, and behavior… Where should I even start? A story from my own childhood comes to mind. When I was a toddler, I decided that the only food I wanted to eat was saltine crackers. Being a stubborn individual even at such a young age, I gave my mother a run for her money. She offered me peanut butter and jelly, but I said, “No!” She put cereal in front of me, but I refused to touch it. At dinnertime I refused to even look at the spaghetti she had made. In situations like this, what’s a parent to do?! Now that I’m a mother myself, I have come to realize that food can be one of the most challenging parts of parenting. As parents, we are charged with caring for the health and wellbeing of our kids, but it is not possible to force children to eat what they do not want to eat. No parent wants his or her children to “starve,” so we are tempted to cave in to our their requests. Recently I overheard a mother explain that her pediatrician recommended letting her toddler snack on whatever he wanted during the day, as long as she supplemented his nutrition with a popular meal replacement beverage. I’m not saying there aren’t cases where extreme measures are warranted, but to me this sounded like a horrible long-term solution to picky eating! Looking through the lens of applied behavior analysis, here are six strategies that have helped me tame the beast of the picky eater in my own home. I hope they will help you, too!

  1. Say goodbye to packaged snacks

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “If they’re hungry, they’ll eat.” This is very simple, but very true! One way to encourage children to eat is to make sure they’re actually hungry when mealtime comes around. This may mean eating less during the periods in between meals. Now I am not suggesting that you cut out snacking all together, but you can control what snacks you offer your children. Personally, I have made the decision to only offer fruits and veggies as snack options in between meals. As opposed to snacks like chips, cookies, and crackers, fresh produce is less likely to curb one’s appetite for more than a short while. I am not saying you have to cut out packaged foods completely, but it may be better to serve these items right after meals or just occasionally as a special treat rather than as snacks.

Photo Credit: antonychammond via Compfight cc
  1. Timing is everything

As parents, we often have to be strategic in interactions with our children. If Sofia is feeling under the weather, didn’t sleep well the night before, and had a rough day at school, it is probably not be the right day to offer her a new food or try to get her to eat a food she has previously rejected. Sounds obvious, right? Well, let me share where parents often go wrong. Rather than using this strategy proactively, they use it reactively. Once they place food in front of Sofia and she refuses to try it, then they give her a preferred food. Unfortunately this often results in a pattern of food refusal that can hang around long after the bad day has been forgotten. Therefore, try to prevent food refusal by offering preferred foods on the hard days, but do your best not to cave in once undesired behavior has been displayed.

  1. Dangle the carrot

This is a simple, yet scientifically verified truth that can be applied to several areas of life. In food terms it equates to, “After you eat your vegetables, then you can have dessert.” Now, this does not mean that you need to offer dessert or other junk food to your children on a daily basis. Rather, choose foods that you feel comfortable offering to your child on a consistent basis (e.g., juice, crackers, popcorn, etc.). In order for this to work, there are two key things to keep in mind. First, the food has to be something your child really likes. Second, this strategy will work best if you keep your “carrot” valuable by not offering it to your child in other circumstances.

  1. Sometimes easier is better

This strategy is specifically geared towards younger toddlers who are still developing fine motor skills. As a human species, we are more likely to do things when they are easier, and it takes more motivation to do things that are difficult. Therefore, even if your son or daughter can independently eat, you may want to help them… at least with their first few bites. You may find that after the first few bites your child eats independently. Why is that so, you ask? Without getting too technical, food is naturally rewarding when we are hungry and so our bodies encourage us to keep eating until we are full.

 

To be redirected to the full article, please click here.

Staying Healthy During the Holidays

The holiday season has officially started! Here’s a Mom’s guide to making it through the holidays:

Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

Staying Healthy During the Holidays
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN

  1. Be the Tupperware Lady– bring Tupperware to family events to pack leftovers or “seconds” and  bring home to eat another time.
    • Rather than overeat on delicious food, plan to use hunger fullness cues. Pack the remainders up for a mini holiday dinner part II.
  2. Healthy Cook Book Exchange (rather than cookie exchange)
    • Holidays typically revolve around gifts and food, so why not give a gift about being healthy and moderate? Healthy cookbook ideas are the Mayo Clinic Williams – Sonoma Cookbook and Martha Stewart’s Healthy Quick Cook
  3. Favor family over food– make festivities about seeing family and not about eating food.
    • Serve a simple meal and focus on entertainment like music and or trivial pursuit.
  4. Stretch your dollar, save your waist – Use Intuitive Eating to portion your restaurant meal.
    • Be economical and bring leftovers home to eat at the next day’s snack or meal.
  5. Eat your favorite food– skip the appetizers and save room for dinner.
    • If dessert is your favorite, don’t fill up on apps and entrees. Make sure you are still hungry for your chocolate cake!!
  6. Secure a snack– before leaving make sure you are not starving, eat a snack to prevent overeating at the party.
    • Restriction cause binging, don’t restrict the day of a special event. You are likely to overeat or even binge later that night.

      Photo Credit: Lotus Carroll via Compfight cc

  7. Wine, beer and liquor on a full belly. If you drink on an empty stomach you are more likely to make poor decisions and overeat.
    • Take your sip of wine with your entrée. If you drink on an empty stomach you will not be mindful of your internal or external cues.
    • Most importantly, don’t drink and drive.

Snacking Sense

Snacking Sense
By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

 

If you’ve ever tried to have a clear and concise conversation with your child after school, you might find it a daunting and nearly impossible task.  Typically, you will find their attention, energy and desire to recount the day stretched thin, and much of that is simply because their bodies have run out of fuel. If it’s been at least 3 hours since their last meal or snack, or their previous amount of food was small, rest assured it is time for them to eat. They need a snack.

Photo Credit: faungg’s photo via Compfight cc

As Ellyn Satter so beautifully explains in her Division of Responsibility, one of the parental roles in the feeding relationship is to “provide regular meals and snacks”.  This provides stability and the reassurance that food will always be available, thereby allowing children to develop a regular rhythm of hunger and fullness signals which will serve them well throughout their life.  As they trust that we will provide food in a regular and timely manner, they can best develop a sense of trusting themselves and their internal signals.

Snacks, however, have many stigmas and much confusion abounds as we try to determine the “best way” to provide them to our kids.  Here are some suggestions that may answer a few of your questions:

  • Snacks are typically best thought of as little meals, not a single stand-alone item. Our culture has branded certain categories as “snack foods”, however anything you would serve at a meal could feasibly be a snack and will undoubtedly be more satisfying than a single-serve package of baked crackers!  How about a slice of leftover veggie pizza and some grapes?
  • Include two or three foods from amongst:  whole grains, protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and fats.  Make certain to also offer some ‘fun foods’, and pair them with foods that have a little staying power, such as chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.  Having foods with a higher fat content will hold them longer, and create greater satisfaction.
  • Since all foods can be part of a balanced eating relationship, I tend to recommend buying full-sized bags of products (chips, crackers, cookies), rather than 100-calorie individual versions.  Not only does this save you some money, it most importantly avoids all of the subtle messages that we give our kids by placing “calories” as part of a food decision.  Have you ever had a 100-calorie bag of anything?  Were you completely and utterly satisfied after finishing it?  If you wanted another one, did you feel like you “shouldn’t”?  In my experience, they leave us hanging, wishing we had more. There is nothing magical about that number “100”, except that it’s an effective marketing strategy.  By focusing on the number, we have a much harder time listening to our tummies and the signals that tell us if we are still hungry or comfortably satisfied.  Instead, present these foods on a plate or in a serving bowl, allowing kids to fill their own plate and gauge the food amounts to their hunger levels.  For snacks you need to pack, keep some reusable snack containers on hand and make certain to include enough so that they can eat sufficiently.
  • A snack is not a treat, not a reward, not withheld in a punishing manner, not conditional.  It’s simply a consistent part of a normal day between meals.  It is just food.
  • Have your kids sit at a table for snacks (without TV, Instagram, or homework!), allowing them to better listen to their bodies and know when they’re satisfied, (not to mention the fact that running around the house is dangerous and messy if done while eating!).  If your child needs to go straight from school to a practice, event or appointment, make certain to have packed a few snack options, and give him time to fully taste and enjoy before running out of the car.
  • Sit down and keep your child company, listening to your own body’s signals of hunger or thirst.  Snack time is designed to relax and regroup.  Take a quick minute to breathe, stretch and transition from the busy day.  Don’t create a stressful conversation about the hours of homework they have yet to face!  Our children are watching us always, and modeling consistent snack and re-charge time is helpful for their development, as we as for our energy and patience.
  • Try to give at least two hours and not longer than 3½ -4 hours between a snack and the next meal.  For example, if dinner is at 6:00, aim to have snack time completed by 4:00, in time for your child to get hungry again by the meal.  In the meantime, make certain your little one has caught up on their water intake, adding in some fresh fruit, ice cubes or cucumbers for a little flavor and fun.
  • If your child is truly not hungry, they won’t eat.  They can then eat at the upcoming meal –  no grazing later on as the meal approaches.
  • When your kids are older, they can begin to make some choices about snacks, within the guidelines that you’ve demonstrated.  Remember to keep them planning and eating at a generally consistent time.

If you maintain the reliable consistency of meals and snacks, including a variety of foods, your child will regulate and be able to trust their body’s signals of hunger and fullness.  Happy snacking!

Sources:
Ellyn Satter, Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense (n.p.: Bull, 2000), http://www.amazon.com/Child-Mine-Feeding-Revised-Updated/dp/0923521518/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y/185-4852629-9299211.
“Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding,” Ellyn Satter Institute, 2014, http://ellynsatterinstitute.org/dor/divisionofresponsibilityinfeeding.php.

 

A Likable Lunch Giveaway!

With Spring officially here, we’ve been looking for ways to spruce up our lunches and on-the-go meals. Soon there will be sports practices to go to, play dates, and afternoon excursions to the park, so we wanted to host a giveaway to give our readers a chance to win some awesome items that will help you pack meals and snacks on-the-go. So keep reading to learn how to enter to win these great prizes:

An OOTs Lunchbox

A gift from gnu foods
FiberLove Bars

 a Rafflecopter giveaway
//d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js

MDIO March Giveaway

Happy March everyone! A few of our recent posts were written about traveling. I recently traveled to Peru with my family and wrote a few months ago on the importance of healthy eating while on-the-go. So, to continue this theme of eating while traveling, I wanted to host a giveaway!

We’re giving away some great items that are sure to help you pack healthy while traveling with your little ones. This month’s giveaway features a brand known as Kangovou. This company offers stylish and eco-friendly food containers that make great travel accessories. Their products are BPA-free and dishwasher safe. To learn more about Kangovou check out their website here.

Now, on to the giveaway details! One lucky reader will win 1 Kangovou Compartment Tray with lid, 1 snack bowl with lid, and a copy of Healthy Habits.

To enter follow the instructions below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
//d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js

Kids’ Nutrition on the Go…for planes, trains and automobiles

Kids’ Nutrition on the Go…for planes, trains and automobiles
By Laura Cipullo, RD CDE CEDRD CDN

 

My family and I are about to set off for Peru. I’m very excited to take this trip and quite eager to learn as much as possible about the Inca culture. However, I’m also ready and “armed” with “nutrition on the go” items for my two boys…especially my younger son Billy. With the help of their star charts, they’ve been trying many new foods lately…even fruits and veggies.  Though they’ve been successful at home in their own environments, the Peruvian cuisine and culture may present a sense of uncertainty…setting the food consumption situation up for possible disaster. So I’ve stocked up and packed our bags with kids’ nutrition essentials to get us through our ten days aboard planes, trains and automobiles as we travel to the “Lost City of the Incas.”

 

A Sneak Peak into Luggage Packing—Kids’ Nutrition on the Go

Pack a few items in your carry on for the plane ride and then safely store the rest in plastic storage bags within your to-be-checked luggage. This helps to ensure that all the food is not confiscated at the security gate! Here’s what I’ve packed:

Milk Boxes: One percent milk in aseptic boxes.

Peanut Butter Packets: Justin’s individual peanut butter packets and some hazelnuts packages. Billy can have a peanut pack and a cereal bar as breakfast. Of course, he can have milk too. Individual packs can ensure food safety and are less likely to be confiscated at security. Plus, you can carry a few with you at all times.

Cereal Bars: Inexpensive Whole Food Bars that Billy loves and can eat as part of his breakfast.

Chia and/or Veggies Squeezers: When traveling to foreign countries, eating raw fruits and veggies may be limited due to the possibility of getting typhoid fever or traveler’s diarrhea. For my kids, I most definitely err on the side of caution and give them squeezers to get their “5-a-days” rather than risk their getting sick.

Clif  Z Ropes: Fruit is the first ingredient listed in this easy snack. They’re individually wrapped and easy to eat in the packaging…particularly for dirty hands that have touched railings and plane seats.

Annie’s Fruit Snacks: A favorite real fruit snack option that both my boys absolutely love.

Clif Bars: This is a great bar as it typically doesn’t melt or “smush.” This bar, a yogurt, and a fruit squeezer can serve as an easy, nutritious lunch on the go.

Spelt pretzels (an entire bag): I’m assuming I can buy hummus in Lima. Let’s hope this is true as these Spelt pretzels and hummus can be part of Billy’s dinner although I’m expecting that restaurants in Lima and our hotels in the Andes really will provide a few options the kids may enjoy.

Gummy Vitamins: These will ensure their micronutrient needs are being met on the road. I’ve packed enough vitamins for each child each day of our trip.

Mom and Dad’s Bars: Nutrition bars for the parents can serve as snack options or possibly parts of meals if you’re traveling without actual meal opportunities.

Wipes: Quite obviously, wipes are not edible but they are a must when traveling.  Surfaces and little hands have to be cleaned before as well as after eating.

 

Please wish us luck! I will report back about the food situation when we return from our adventure to South America’s Machu Picchu.