On MindBodyGreen: Kid Friendly Snacks That Take 5 Minutes to Make

On MindBodyGreen: Kid Friendly Snacks That Take 5 Minutes to Make

When summer produce hits its stride - as it’s doing right now, you can let Mother Nature do most of the work when it comes to prepping kid friendly snacks - which certainly does makes the living (or at least, the feeding) easy.

I was asked to share 6 of my favorite kid friendly summer snacks with my friends at MindBodyGreen. To make the cut, they had to be tasty bites filled with kid-appeal that help me get out of the kitchen faster - in less than 5 minutes in fact. Not to mention, stretch my kids' culinary wings with every delicious bite.

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#RepealTheSeal - An Update on Academy Action


Earlier today, Rachel Begun, Regan Jones and I posted the following update to the supporters of the #RepealTheSeal petition on Change.org. I am reposting that update here with a personal word of thanks to all of you who reached out to show your support not only of of this campaign, but also my personal involvement in this effort. As the update below states, the public forum by which we launched this campaign has always been grounded in the desire to spark real change and press for decisive and timely action. I am immensely grateful for all of my colleagues who continue to ask the hard questions.

#RepealTheSeal - An Update on Academy Action

In launching the #RepealTheSeal campaign and starting this petition, we have remained committed to creating a professional and respectful platform for RDNs to express their concerns about this issue to the Academy. This public step was taken only after multiple formal channels were followed during our respective careers on similar issues to little response. We decided to speak out publicly because we believe credibility is everything. We also believe that our organization is stronger when we take action to make it better. Our intention has always been to be a spark for change and to fight for the principles of our organization and our profession.

In March 24th’s Wall Street Journal article —  the Academy stated that it “is working toward changing any perceptions of endorsement.” To our ears, this means the Academy is keeping their decision intact and continuing to explain the rationale, rather than taking meaningful steps to keep the Kids Eat Right logo off product packaging, as was requested in our #RepealTheSeal petition.


#RepealTheSeal Impact

Without all of you, we couldn’t have achieved the overwhelming impact that we have, including:

      • More than 11,000 signatures — composed primarily of RDNs, Academy members and dietetic interns
      • Millions reached through social media — the #RepealTheSeal hashtag has been shared on Twitter to more than 1.7 million accounts, which represents almost 5 million total possible impressions
      • More than 40 blog posts*** — Academy Members, Dietetic Students and Health Professional Blogs have voiced their concerns through their blogs, reaching tens of millions of online reader

We are deeply grateful to all of our colleagues and fellow RDNs who have added the power of their voice, both publicly and privately, to express disagreement over the Academy’s decision to allow the KER logo on food packaging.


Call to Action

To date, the Academy has not responded with the actions requested in our original petition. A resolution on this issue may only come if your pressure remains strong. Email your State and DPG Leadership and ask that these petition requests be addressed by the Academy now, and not pushed back to future meetings.

Thank you to all of you who supported this petition.


Rachel Begun MS, RDN Kate Geagan MS, RDN Regan Jones RDN

The following is a listing of posts by bloggers who are supporting the repeal of the KER logo on food packaging.

Please visit their sites for more thoughtful commentary on this issue.

Janet Helm MS, RD @NutritionUnplugged  Kelly Plowe, MS, RD @ Livestrong Lindsay Livingston, RD @ The Lean Green Bean Rachael Hartley, RD @ Avocado A Day Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD & Serena Ball, MS RD @ Teaspoon of Spice Gretchen Brown, RD @ Kumquat Alanna Waldron, RD @ Eat Real Food Alex Caspero, RD @ Delicious Knowledge Anne Mauney, MPH, RD @ Fannetastic Food Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD @ Southern Fried Nutrition Ashley Colpaart, MS, RD @ Epicurean Ideal Christina Schu, Dietetics Student @ The Beautiful Balance Hannah Eddy, Dietetic Intern @ The Wholey Trinity Jessica Serdikoff, RDN, CPT @ Floptimism Sarah Moran, RDN @ Sarah Moran Nutrition April Graff, RD @ This RD Eats Emily Hein, RDN @ Zen & Spice Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, ACSM, @ US News Health (Eat + Run) Robin Plotkin, RD, LD @ Robin's Bite Yoni Freedhoff, MD @ Weighty Matters Marie Spano MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD @ Performance Nutrition Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN @ Simple Cravings. Real Food. Jennifer Pullman, RD @ Nourished Simply Parke Wilde @ U.S. Food Policy Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN @ Caroline Kaufman Nutrition Danielle Omar, RD @ Food Confidence Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, LD, CDN, CFT & Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT @ Nutrition Twins David Katz MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH @ Food Politics Darren Stehle @ Eat Move Be Denine Stracker, MPH, RD @ Apples and Olives Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RDN @ Real Mom Nutrition Elizabeth Abrahamson, RDN @ Enjoy Every Bite Rebecca Clyde, RDN @ Be Truly Nourished Kristy Hegner, MPH, RD @ Chocolate Slopes Kara Lydon, RDN @ The Foodie Dietitian Joanne Perez, RD @ Real Bite Nutrition Beth Critser, BS Undergraduate Student via @ More Plant Foods Sidney Fry, MS, RD @ Cooking Light Simmer & Boil Martha McKittrick, RD, CDN, CDE @ City Girl Bites Francesca Cugini, MS, RDN, LD @ Energy We Bring Andy Bellatti MS, RD @ Civil Eats

Reboot Your Kids' Eating Habits for 2010

Healthy KidsFor all you moms out there, grandparents with tots in your lives, or anyone who's interested in feeding our kids in a better way, there's a fantastic website you really must bookmark, SuperKids Nutrition. I love it. It's run by a dietitian who's a mom, is loaded with real life advice and tips, and if you do one thing in 2010 to reboot your kids' eating habits, it is to start incorporating some of this stuff into your routine and your shopping cart.

I recently did an interview with SuperKids Nutrition, about simple, everyday changes families can do to pack more planet friendly eating. Below is a variation of that interview, with a few blog-friendly edits. I hope these tips help you and your family move towards leaner, cleaner, greener eating, one snack at a time in the New Year!

How can busy moms look beyond packaged foods to allow them to still have quick snacks on hand and be able to put quick meals together?

Focus on one-ingredient foods as the mainstay of meals and snacks. It is still fast and easy, but more nourishing in every sense. And it helps point you toward greener choices, too – what's not to love?

So, let's review the "one-ingredient" food list.

One ingredient foods may include oatmeal, canned beans, chicken, almonds/nuts, fresh or dried fruit, or frozen single vegetables (such as "frozen peas", no added sauces), bulk couscous, a bag of rice, a box of pasta, tofu, canned pumpkin, or even eggs. This simple philosophy immediately starts clearing the clutter from your food choices.

Do you have some ideas or tricks to get through the grocery store with less packaged food in your cart?

Registered dietitians always say, "shop the perimeter" but I think that's not so true anymore; marketers are catching on. Plus, there are some great things in those inner aisles: whole grains, brown rice, heart-healthy oils, to name a few. So I would say to be sure that you have about two-thirds fresh items in your cart (fruits, vegetables, poultry, dairy, tofu/soy, fresh-frozen fish) with about one-third packaged food items. This will allow you to have more real food and less packaged foods.

So, folks can limit packaged food but can still use some in a pinch?

Yes. "Packaged foods" is a super-broad category and you can find some great options to help you in a pinch. In general, my advice is to ignore the front label packaging (that's where all the hype is that the manufacturer wants you to see), and read the ingredient list. It should read like something from your kitchen, not a food lab. In general, choose packaged foods that have 5 ingredients or less, all of which should easily look like things you'd find in your home.

How can moms or dads help children understand the importance of "real food?"

Connecting our kids to food is so important. For instance, I was recently talking at a mom's event where a mom told me her child that would not eat a whole apple "because it turns brown". The child was used to only eating apple slices from a snack bag! Educating our children about nature and its variability is an important part of showing them the true experience of real food.

In your book, you talk about the idea of reducing our "carbon footprint." It's great to know we can make a large impact very easily.

Convenience not only costs more, but also adds carbon to the atmosphere. Cutting back on disposable items alone can have a huge impact, as can simply including more one-ingredient foods in your pantry. Aim for progress -- not perfection -- and focus on one change at a time. For example, you can try reducing your reliance on individually packaged snacks or choose to cut up your own fresh vegetables to start you on your way to eating greener. Maybe you feel that individual drinks are a must for the cooler when you go on a picnic or a hike. Save this convenience for those times and use pitchers of water, juice or beverages at home; it's a great way to save money too!

So what types of "one-ingredient" snacks can we offer?

Seeds, nuts, fruit (fresh or dried), edamame (i.e., cooked baby soybeans), fresh snap peas, fresh berries, and cherry/grape tomatoes are some options. You can also combine some of these to make a snack (think trail mix).

How can parents get their kids involved?

They can offer age-appropriate responsibilities for snacks. Consider using large, airtight jars with scoops for dry goods. Provide a "snack drawer" or have some chopped veggies ready to eat, bagged in the fridge. Right now my 3 year old loves it when I give him a bowl of pistachios, still in their shell, to open and eat while I make dinner (disclosure, Paramount Farms Pistachios is a client of mine). They love to participate!

Any tools we can use with our kids?

My favorite tool around "Edible Education" comes from Field to Plate. It is a great worksheet series you can do with your child to help map their palate and develop a real roadmap, based on taste and flavor, towards step by step healthier eating habits.


Got other ideas to reboot kids' eating habits in 2010? I'd love to hear them!

3 Easy Steps to Deal with a Picky Eater

Meal Makeover MomsChances are you know a kid that's a picky eater. Or at least, you know a parent of one. Even before I had kids, I was fascinated by this classification. Living in Italy for 2 years back in the mid-90s without any bambinos of my own, I was keenly aware that the concept didn't even exist over there, and in the decade of dietitian/motherhood that has followed, I am still interested in whether it was nature or nurture at work. So here's my hunch: it's not nature. Turns out that picky eating is pretty much a distinctly American phenomenon. Did you know that in many languages around the world, the expression "picky eater" doesn't even exist?

Why is this the case? Here's my opinion: many kids are given too many food choices, they are surrounded by food all of the time, and they're often nibbling throughout the day, making true hunger elusive. Talk to any pediatrician these days and you'll usually find a combination of shock and dismay at just how frequently (not to mention what kinds of foods and drinks) we're feeding our kids.

How to best feed your kids is, to put it mildly, a polarizing topic, so I am about to tread cautiously. I know that feeding choices stem from the best of intentions on the part of the parents, often coupled with a bit of anxiety and desperation.  I also know that there are special considerations, say in the case of food allergies or an underweight child. But for most American families, I hope that you consider these tips, based on my own experience (as a nutrition professional and a mom), as food for thought when you're deciding how to raise your picky eater. Drop me a line and add to the conversation....

1. Hunger Can Be a Good Thing

I get the sense that many parents are utterly terrified of letting their kids be hungry, as if it's a sign of parental failure and will lead to malnourished children. As a result, our diaper bags, strollers, and the pockets of our minivans are laden down with treats, drinks, and a hodge podge of snacks at all times.

Why is this a problem? A couple reasons: (1) it is likely to increase the odds that your child is consuming too many calories overall, leading to overweight and obesity, (2) if you take the edge off of a child's hunger all the time, it makes it much easier for him to skip meals, or to consume much less during and "hold out" because they know another snack is just around the corner.

I think that kids should arrive to meals a bit hungry-they will likely eat more at the meal if they are hungry! Try it for a week and see what happens-I absolutely notice a difference in my kids (a 2 and 4 year old) dinner plates depending on what time they last ate. If you blunt this with a snack 30-60 minutes before you might be fostering a picky eater.

Of course I am a fan of appropriate, healthy snacking. With kids, their tiny tummies often need to refuel a bit in between meals, and it can add some valuable key nutrients (like calcium, Vitamin C or iron) if the foods choices are good ones. But if you have a picky eater, take a look at your snacking habits, and chances are they might need some tweaking.

2. Serve Real Food, Not "Kids Food"

To raise healthy eaters, serve your kids what YOU are eating at meals and snacks. Simple as that. Research has found that even by age 2 our food preferences are well established-based on what we've been given in the high chair and the stroller. A 2002 Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study tracked the diets of 3,000 babies and found that one-third to one-quarter of 6 month olds do not eat even one serving of fruits or vegetables a day. By 9 months, mashed or fried potatoes are the most commonly consumed vegetable.

By teaching your kids that they eat different foods than you do, it will only be harder and harder for them to make the transition to "grown up foods". Sure, you want to serve them some foods you know they will eat. But you also need to stretch them or they will only like those foods. I'll never forget the words of a Mom at one of my  worshops, who admonished the group "Picky kids don't magically turn into wonderful teenage eaters-they turn into picky teenage eaters." So start today.

To be sure, the older your kids are when you start a change at the dinner table, the more entrenched the behaviors and the longer it will take to right the ship-but remember your long term goal-your goal as a parent is not just to have your child's belly filled in the immediacy-you are also trying to raise a good eater-someone who is adventurous, eats a respectable range of food to foster good health and a healthy weight and who can go to a restaurant and order something other than the Mac n' Cheese.

3. Tune OUT Technology

We all accept that we can have basic rules in the playroom ("no hitting!") or the other zones of our day, but for some reason parents today seem worried about setting any sort of guidelines at the dinner table-and the result is a free-for-all. Toddlers have moms chasing them around  the living room with a spoonful of food, coaxing them to eat (see tip #1 to resolve), toys and technology litter the table...and now there's something else: I am shocked at how often I am seeing families "eating out" together, with the kids watching portable DVD players at the dinner table while the parents enjoy a peaceful dinner. This isn't family time, this isn't nourishing in any way, this is madness!

It's simple - iPods:off. TV: Off. Cell phone:Off. Toys: Off limits at the table. Sit and eat like a family-talk about your day, the food, whatever's on your mind. Go around the table and have each person say what they appreciate about the day-at the very least this will carry you through until the toddlers are done eating. What kids crave more than anything these days is your time & your attention. Give it to them over food.

Will it take some time? Yes. Will there by struggle? Yes. But is it worth it? Absolutely...your kids' health, their weight, and most importantly, their development as decent eaters all lie in the balance.

For help getting started with kid-friendly meals that are RD approved, visit The Meal Makeover Moms at www.mealmakeovermoms.com and join their Moms Club-their cookbook rocks, too.