Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Cardboard tubes? Extra piece of wrapping paper not quite big enough to wrap that box? Join me over at Just Us Four where I'm sharing an easy (easy, I promise!) ornament/ craft you can make with your kids!
And, a special welcome to Just Us Four readers! I hope you'll stick around for a while! Be sure to follow Teaching Good Eaters on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter so you won't miss a post! Plus, now you can follow on Bloglovin! Just look for the button at the top of my sidebar.
While you're here, you might want to check out these posts:
7 Last Minute Homemade Gifts for Kids
An Alternative to Christmas Cookies
Little Treats Can Make a Big Difference (Elf Donuts!)
Reading Our Way Through Advent
Jingle Bell Breakfast
5 Favorite Toys for Boys
Tips for Reducing Christmas Meltdowns
Teaching Kids to Be Better Eaters:
Teaching Babies to Eat
The Question You Should Never Ask if You Want Your Kid to Eat a Carrot
Learning to be Brave
Should You Sneak Vegetables into Your Kids' Food?
Monday, December 9, 2013
Since that time, quite a few "experts," have come out either for or against these "sneaky," practices.
Quite a few parents have asked me where I stand on the issue, and my response, is somewhere in the middle, and depends, quite honestly, on where you and your children are in your food journey.
In general, my advice can be summed up, pretty much in one sentence: Don't hide it, if you don't need to.
If your kids aren't picky yet...
If you are just beginning your journey of feeding your kids. If your kids have not yet gone through a picky phase, there is no need to be sneaky. There is no need to assume that kids won't like vegetables.
Go ahead and add extra vegetables to everything and anything you wish, but don't assume that you need to be sneaky. Let your children see what is going into their food, and, if they are old enough, allow them to help.
Serve the vegetables in ways that taste good and that allow them to experience their real flavors rather than masking them.
If your kids are going through a picky phase...
If your young child is going through a picky phase, you may want to play down the appearance and/ or texture of vegetables or other "offending," foods during this phase.
- Puree vegetables and add them into sauces.
- Peel and shred zucchini rather than chopping zucchini "green," and all.
However, the mantra continues… "Don't hide it, if you don't need to." Use scaffolding to slowly increase the amount of vegetables that you include each time you make a dish. Once it is clear that your children like what you serve, discuss the ingredients and allow them to help you make it.
I do not advise, however, that you make a big deal out of "revealing," the "secret," ingredient. This reinforces the idea that it's something that they shouldn't like.
For example, if you make zucchini muffins, don't say, "Guess what was in those muffins… zucchini, and you liked it!" Instead, act as if it was no big deal. You could say something like, "Would like to help me make more of those zucchini muffins that you liked so much the other day?" As if they knew they were zucchini muffins all along ;)
If picky eating has become the norm...
If your kids are already deeply entrenched in their pickiness, or if they have severe food aversions, give yourself the grace to do whatever you need to do, to get the most possible nutrition you can into your kids. This may involve being sneaky.
However… again, don't hide it, if you don't have to. The end goal should always be for children to knowingly eat and enjoy a wide variety of foods (and this includes vegetables!)
Don't make a bunch of extra work for yourself (you won't likely stick with it!) Include vegetables in ways that are natural and that embrace and enhance the natural flavors of the foods. (Making and freezing a bunch of purees to me, seems like a bunch of added work and is most likely, not natural to the way that you cook or to the way that your family eats. Instead, think about ways to add compatible vegetables to things that your family already loves -like adding onions, black beans, and/ or zucchini to taco meat.
Make meals for your family that include vegetables, rather than special "kid foods," with vegetable purees. (Teach kids to eat real food, rather than "kid food.")
Steer clear of desserts with small amounts of vegetable purees as a way to sneak veggies into your kids. Desserts should be an occasional treat. If you are using desserts as a way to sneak healthy foods into your kids, you are simply teaching them to eat and desire more sugary treats.
Always focus on the idea of "teaching," rather than, "sneaking." If you are serving your child a meal that has added vegetables which they may not be aware of, your intent should be to expose them to new flavors, rather than to fool them.
Are you sneaky with your kids' foods? Have you read Deceptively Delicious or The Sneaky Chef? Here's my favorite, "No need to be sneaky," recipe heavily adapted from Deceptively Delicious.
Recipe for "Sloppy Dogs"
Adapted from the Deceptively Delicious Sloppy Joe recipe
- 1 lb. ground beef, chicken or turkey (or 1/2 lb. ground meat and 1 cup chopped zucchini)*
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 t. chopped garlic
- 1 t. chili powder
- 1/2 t salt
- dash pepper
- 1 T Worcestershire sauce (I like Lea and Perrins because it doesn't have high fructose corn syrup)
- 1 T ketchup (I prefer Simply Heinz)
- 1/2 cup broth (chicken or beef)
- 1 cup baked or boiled sweet potato
- 1/2 cup boiled or roasted red pepper
- hot dog buns (or Romaine lettuce leaves for GF)
*We have a family of 6 big eaters… so I use a whole pound ground meat and around 1 cup zucchini. I then adjust the other ingredients by adding just a little bit more of each.
1. Brown ground meat.
2. Use grease from the meat to sauté the onions until they are translucent. (If using, add beans and zucchini)
3. Add garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.
4. Put cooked sweet potato and red pepper and broth in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
5. Add broth and vegetable mixture to meat mixture.
6. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until sauce thickens.
As always… Amazon links are my referral links. If you click on them and then make any purchase, I will receive a small referral fee.
This post is linked up to Teach Me Tuesday
This post is linked up to Teach Me Tuesday
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
It may be that, if the weather is nice, they have been playing outside, and if it's not, they spend about 90% of their time doing this:
However, it has forced me to think about what toys they really do play with all the time.
Legos seem to top most lists of boy toys. However, the problem is that building sets are fairly expensive and usually only get built one time before the pieces join our random Lego bin.
Fortunately, our boys do use the random parts to build their own creations which are usually some variation of this:
Last year they were really into the "lego guys," so, instead of getting a set of legos for Christmas, they got a set of Lego people which was a huge hit!
This year, however, I have stumbled on, what seems to be a home run for Lego fans: Pleygo! Have you heard of it?
It is, essentially, Netflix for Legos.
You pay a monthly membership fee, create a wish list, and they send you a set. You build it, play with it, and then send it back. Within a few days (they send out the next set as soon as they get notification that the last set was sent), they will then send you a new set. (They don't penalize you for lost pieces… we have already "tested," this part of their program ;) )
We are now to the point where we have more than enough Legos in our collection, and yet my boys still want new sets, so Pleygo fits us perfectly.
We are just finishing up a free trial and I'm thinking that we will continue, at least for the winter months. My plan is to intercept the next box, wrap it up, and then surprise them with an extended membership.
Are your kids Lego fans? In my opinion, it's definitely at least worth trying a free month! (Here's my referral link… Go to: Pricing and then look under "Super Fan," for a box that says, "Start Your Free Month")
These little finger skateboards are the best!
My oldest son discovered these a few years ago and all 3 of my boys play with them all the time. During the summer, my son brought them every time we went to the park. Within minutes, all of the boys in the park would be gathered together taking turns doing tricks with the boards on the slides and cheering each other on.
My favorite thing about them is that they inspire my oldest to creativity. Just last night we needed to ask him to disassemble his cardboard skatepark which had taken over our hallway for weeks.
I did manage, however, to salvage the oatmeal container half pipe that he created… I was really impressed with his creativity!
When my oldest son was two, he loved playing with the Hess trucks that our neighbor had. Since boy toys were new to us, I just figured that Hess was a toy brand… I didn't realize that they came from Hess gas stations (which we didn't have near us.) They sell one new toy a year, usually around this time, and many people consider them to be collectible.
The good news/ bad news situation of this is, that, because they are collectible, you can buy new ones on Ebay or Amazon, which is what we have done. I've bought them for my own boys and as gifts. When buying for my own, I buy the used ones without the boxes because they are much cheaper.
There are lots of different options to choose from…
The boys love the ones where there is a larger truck, car or plane with something inside it… and by far, the favorites are the ones that include motorcycles.
Five years ago, my oldest son got the "Batman House," for Christmas. It has probably gotten more play time from my sons (and any other boy who visits) than any other toy we own, and it is still in the exact same condition as the day we bought it. (Sadly, they no longer make the model we have, which is much better, in my opinion than the newer one.
They do sell the older model on Amazon and ebay, but you will most definitely pay a premium. Actually, as I'm writing this, I'm also texting with a friend of mine who decided to just "bite the bullet," and buy it, because she knows it will get a lot of play.
Compared to all of the cheap plastic toys that are produced these days, Imaginext is very high quality. At this point, we have an "Imaginext Community,"and it's not uncommon to see knights, superheros, and pirates playing together ;)
Last but not least… You may have seen Snap Circuits in catalogs for $80-$100 or more. But, what the catalogs don't typically show you, is the Snap Circuits Jr. set, which you can usually buy for $20-$30 (I scored ours at a garage sale for $2… one of my most exciting finds-ever!)
The junior set, simply has fewer options and experiments than the larger sets, but is still lots of fun (Makes 100 projects rather than 300 or 500.) All of my kids (except the baby), love playing with it. They do sell an add on kit to expand the Junior so that you can do more circuits. I think we may add that to our wish list at some point.
By the way, it's says that it is for ages 8-108… my son started playing with it at around age 5.
I'd love to know… what are the toys your kids play with all the time?
Boys or Girls (though I do have one daughter, she doesn't honestly play with toys very much- she's always playing outside , reading, or doing something imaginative or artsy… she has been joining in on the Pleygo subscription, though. The last set we got was from the Lego Friends collection.)
FYI… This post is littered with Amazon referral links… If you click on one and make a purchase, I get a small percentage of the sale.