"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."~Maya Angelou

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What's in your lunchbox?

               That special time of year is upon us again, no not that big guy in red, but back to school time! Many of you have children going back to public schools, while others have some pretty big milestones coming up, whether it's the first day of preschool, kindergarten or your child's senior year in high school! (Good thing I have made a deal that mine won't be getting any older after this year!! :) ) As parents we do as much as we can humanly do to not only prepare our children for this, but ourselves as well. We go clothes shopping and shoe shopping to make sure they are as comfortable as they can be, we want our children to be happy, right? We give them new hair cuts to give them a fresh new feeling, because we want them to feel good about themselves, yes?  We also load them up on school supplies, backpacks and 1,000 other knick-knacks because we always want our children to be prepared. Then the night before the first day of school arrives and you pack their lunch. Let me ask you this, how many of you did a "back to school" grocery trip? Let me explain.
                At this point in time I am packing lunches year round. My children are still quite young and when I am working they are in childcare. They have to have lunches and snacks packed when this happens, and I need to be prepared for it. A few things I like to have on hand include easy to eat protein foods; red beans, cheese, peanut butter or chicken bits. I try to have as much fresh fruit and veggies as possible, like carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber or apples. Frozen veggies are always a good standby, peas, mixed, or broccoli can be thawed and added to a lunch box pretty quickly. In my experience children will eat whatever they are fed from the beginning. My 14 month old is extremely picky, but I just continue to offer her good choices knowing one day she will know no other way. The key seems to be trying to offer a variety and being consistent. Their taste buds are always changing so you never know when that day will come when she smiles and eats green beans happily, instead of throwing them on the floor!
                  I divide my time between working at home and working in an early childhood center for children from 18 months to preschool, and I have seen thousands of lunches come through. I must say that for the most part parents pack some very healthy lunches, with 3-4 great choices. But there are a few that just makes you think, what was that parent thinking? To give you an idea of what I am talking about, here's a sample of what I've seen. Fluff sandwiches, artificially colored cheese crackers, gummy fruit snacks, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, yogurt that is neon in color, and microwavable "baby" food, that, I'm sorry, smells revolting!! Now don't get me wrong, anything is fine in moderation and my children enjoy goldfish and graham crackers. The point I am trying to make is why do we spend all sorts of time, energy and money and making our kids feel and look good, but forget about the importance of fueling their body? What we pack in their lunchboxes is so important, and I hope that every parent thinks twice this year before they throw in some processed crackers before adding a banana.
                 I have included some information on the new "food plate", which has replaced the old food pyramid. I hope you all find it as helpful as I have, I think many people will find this much easier to work into their lives. Happy Eating everyone!!

The new food pyramid is a circle.
The feds have ditched the age-old triangular guide to eating well in favor of a circular plate they hope diners will load up with fruits and veggies.
"As long as they're half full of fruits and vegetables and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we're golden," said First Lady Michelle Obama, who helped unveil the new icon Thursday.
The simple white plate is paired with a smaller white plate that the feds say is reserved for dairy, such as a cup of milk or a container for yogurt.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome to my blog!

            I am so excited to post my very first blog and begin what I hope will be a long and memorable experience. In my blogs I hope to accomplish several different things. As a mom of three, and an early childhood educator, I am always looking for a fun new craft to do on a rainy day, or some great homemade holiday decorations. I am excited to share what I know with others interested in the same thing! I hope my blog is a place where others will also share what they love to do with their families, because everything that I know I have learned from someone else!

           Another area I will explore in this blog is thoughts and ideas on living a "greener" life.  My husband and I have really made an effort this year to turn our home into the most natural, safe environment we can, making small changes every month. One of our biggest changes was switching where we buy all of our household products, from all toxic chemicals to all natural cleaners from an incredible wellness company, Melaleuca. We have also cut out all artificial colors, as our son has terrible allergic reactions to food that contains them.  Little things, like making as much of our food as we can and using safe products in the home, are things I have learned from others, and because they have made such an incredible impact in my life I feel it is my responsibility to share what I learn with others. It is my sincere hope that I can help someone else feel as good as I do in knowing you are doing everything in your power to give your children the best environment you can.
           In addition to that I am looking forward to sharing information I learn about healthy eating and fun cooking ideas to do with (or without) your children!  For instance I just discovered making Kale chips, and now they are our every Wednesday treat! My kids love how they just melt in your mouth, and the crunchy, flakiness of them, and I really encourage all of you to try it at least once! My step-daughter, who is my oldest at 5 (almost 6, a week to go!) has to be one of the pickiest I have ever encountered. I made the chips one day after we visited a local farmer's market, and I swear she LOVES them! To make them is so simple and the benefits of Kale are never ending! I have included a bit about the power food at the end of this blog, so you can get a good idea of the incredible value of this food. To make kale chips:
I recommend using Kale that is curly at the tips, which tends to be darker purple in color. Start by pre heating your oven to 350.  Simply pull apart the leaves from the stem, ripping it into bite size pieces. Make sure not to include any of the stem on your baking tray.   Once you have your baking sheet covered with pieces of the leaf, drizzle with olive oil. I usually give the leaves a little toss to fully mix the oil throughout. Sprinkle with either regular salt or sea salt, and bake for 10 minutes. Voila! You have just made the healthiest, not to mention easiest and quickest, snack your kids will go nuts for, I promise!!

What Is Kale - Super Vegetable For Optimal Health