Friday, January 25, 2013

“Green leafy wha’ what? No thank you, mommy. I don’t like trees.”

Sound familiar? Of course he meant the green leafy veggies on his plate that the pediatrician recommended he eat more of to help increase his low iron count.  He actually loves the trees in the park. Although I grew up in the tree hugging San Francisco Bay Area and ate most of my veggies as a child (brussels sprouts is where I drew the line, until I got much older), I haven’t had the same success with my own kids.  Between the two boys, I’ve been reduced to a choice of broccoli (I wanted to praise the heavens when I heard them both say, “More broccoli please”!), steamed cauliflower, fried eggplant, canned green beans, avocado, raw carrots, yams, and roasted potatoes. While this list might sound good – there has been no expanding beyond it for the past 3 years.  And this list is the combination of the foods they will eat between the two of them, they don’t both eat everything on the list. So each night I’m faced with alternating these same veggies week after week. Thus, I sneak other veggies into other prepared foods.  Like mixing in winter squash baby food in my Easy (Guilt Free) Mac & Cheese recipe, which can be found on my recipe page.  I’m experimenting with putting pureed zucchini in meatballs next and will keep you all posted on the outcome.  But whenever I stress over them not eating enough fresh fruits and veggies and how it may stunt their growth, I’m reminded of my cousin (now in his early twenties and a healthy 6’4’’) who refused to eat more than 3 green beans a week as a child. So if your little ones give you the yucky face whenever you try to give them veggies, don’t worry too much. Just keep those gummy vitamins coming, sit down, pour a glass of wine, then say to yourself – yes, they can survive on mac and cheese alone (with mom’s secret ingredients, of course!). 

This doesn’t mean it’s not important to make sure your children are eating enough fruits and veggies. I feel incredibly guilty if a day goes by and I realize they’ve only eaten pizza and dry cereal or goldfish crackers for the day.  

One fun tool to help ensure your children are eating enough fruits and veggies is incorporating the Eat A Rainbow philosophy. The primary concept is to challenge your children to eat as many colors from the rainbow as possible. You can make fun games out of the challenge and this is a great way to get the kids involved at the grocery store.  The most important thing to remember is even if you are limited to only 3-4 fruit and veggie choices your kids will allow without much protest - something is better than nothing.  Three green beans a week is still better than no green beans at all. Good luck and don't stop trying.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Make a Pledge For The Entire Family To Eat Healthier Foods and Be Active in 2013!

With the new year upon us, it is the perfect time to keep that new year's resolution by not only keeping yourself active and eating right, but also an opportunity to teach your kids how to have healthy bodies. Often as parents, we are so focused on our own waistline that we forget the little ones need our attention too. My challenge is always the snack time between when I pick them up from school late in the day afterwork and dinner time. I'm happy they are hungry so the likelihood of them eating almost anything I put in front of them will be devoured without much fuss, but they are so hungry that I have to give them something to snack on until dinner is ready. Although my kids eat healthy foods, at this time of day they are not asking for carrot sticks and apple slices. Instead they want to grab chips and juice. So to avoid this predictable headache, I make sure my dinner is on the table in 30 minutes or less. This involves some advance planning: a weekly menu. This prevents me from standing in front of the fridge shaking my head, screaming at the kids, or crying from frustration (yes, I'll admit - those are my grown-up tears, not theirs!). So I plan ahead, all the way down to boiling the pasta or making the rice days in advance which later only requires a quick heating to keep the dinner preparation moving fast.

My own schedule is pretty grueling: up at 4:30am, out of the house by 5:45am and in the office by 6:30am! (my husband takes the kids to school).  Sitting in front of the computer for 9 hours on average a day and some additional hours on Saturdays, I try to make sure to at least walk around the building if I'm not able to get a 30 minute workout at the company gym. Just as important is making sure the boys get of the house and stretch their legs on a daily basis. Often I'll take a soccer ball with me to the park and kick it around with them before they go to the playground. This is a good heart pumping exercise for all of us!

So this year when you are reminding yourself of the new year's resolution you made in the mirror to finally shed those extra 10-15 pounds, don't leave your kids at home playing video games. (And no, Wii fit doesn't count, it's been proven in a lab!) Get the kids out of the house and take a ball, frisbee, bikes, skateboards, or scooters and get moving. Your body will appreciate the extra cardio workout!