Helping kids learn to love healthy eating
(Family Features) According to the 2007 Produce For Kids study, 96 percent of children don’t get the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. That won’t surprise a lot of parents. Getting children to eat any fruits or vegetables at all can be a big challenge. With 39 percent of all U.S. children overweight or obese, getting kids to make better food choices is more important than ever.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, nutrients and fiber, are low in calories and can help prevent many diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers. But kids aren’t compelled by the nutritional benefits of produce. They want to have fun eating food they like. So they need some help to become healthy eaters.
How can a parent get fruit-phobic or veggie-avoiding kids to eat more of what they really need? Mypyramid.gov, a Web site dedicated to helping people make smart food choices, has some tips for coping with picky eaters.
- Let your kids be “produce pickers.” Let them help pick out fruits and veggies at the store.
- Kids like to try foods they help make. All of that mixing, mashing and measuring makes them want to taste what they are creating.
- Make meals a stress-free time. If meals are times for family arguments, your child may learn unhealthy attitudes toward food.
- Offer choices. Rather than ask “Do you want broccoli for dinner?” ask “Which would you like for dinner: broccoli or cauliflower?”
Another suggestion, from The Produce For Kids study, is to use dips to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. Sixty-eight percent of the moms surveyed said that their children ate more fruit and vegetables when they were served with dip.
One of the latest items on the market to help meet this need is Marzetti Dip Snack Packs, a line of fruit and veggie dips for children that makes eating produce fun and nutritious. Each portion-control package contains the right amount of dip for a serving of fruit or vegetables.
Turn the frowns upside down
Do your kids turn up their noses at fruits and veggies? Here are some fun and smart ideas to please even the pickiest of eaters:
- Bagel snake ― Split mini bagels in half. Cut each half into half circles. Spread the halves with tuna salad, egg salad, or peanut butter. Decorate with sliced cherry tomatoes or banana slices. Arrange the half circles to form the body of a snake. Use olives or raisins for the eyes.
- English muffin pizza ― Top half an English muffin with tomato sauce, chopped veggies and low-fat mozzarella cheese. Heat until the cheese is melted.
- Potato pal ― Top half a small baked potato with eyes, ears, and a smile. Try peas for eyes, a halved cherry tomato for a nose, and a low-fat cheese wedge as a smile.
- Fruit smoothies ― Blend fresh or frozen fruit with yogurt and milk or juice. Try 100 percent orange juice, low-fat yogurt, and frozen strawberries.
- Ants on a log ― Thinly spread peanut butter or apple dip on narrow celery sticks. Top with a row of raisins or other diced dried fruit.
- Fruit kabobs – Spear chunks of pineapple, banana and melon on skewers or chopsticks. Let kids dunk them in a fruit dip.
Picky eaters don’t have to stay picky eaters. With some encouragement and creative ideas from parents, they can learn to love eating what’s best for them.
For more information, visit marzetti.com.
Turn PB & J into PB & A — peanut butter and apples! This lunchtime treat is a great way to please picky sandwich eaters and make sure they get some healthy fruit.
Open Face Caramel Peanut Butter Sandwich
Prep Time: 5 minutes
- 2 tablespoons Marzetti Caramel Apple Dip
- 2 tablespoons favorite peanut butter
- 2 slices favorite bread
- Sliced apples, peanuts, dried cranberries or raisins
- In a small bowl, mix together dip and peanut butter until smooth.
- Spread two tablespoons of caramel mixture on each slice of bread.
- Arrange sliced apples, peanuts and dried fruit atop each sandwich and serve.
Put some crunchy fun into snack time with this fruity rice cake. This is one treat the kids will love making themselves — just set out the ingredients and let them build a fruit-filled snack!
Rice Cake Snack
Prep Time: 3 minutes
- 2 tablespoons Marzetti Caramel Apple Dip
- 1 rice cake
Topping options: Diced red or green apple, chopped bananas, favorite dried fruit, mini chocolate chips or favorite chopped nuts
Spread 2 tablespoons dip onto a rice cake. Top with one or two topping options and serve.
(Family Features) Slow cookers are a simple, no-nonsense solution to making delicious meals for a family on the go. With minimal prep time, you can walk away and let the slow cooker work its magic – welcoming you home to an aromatic, ready-to-serve dinner. Here are some tips for slow cooker success:
- Brown your meat before you heat. The extra few minutes you take to do so will greatly enhance the flavor of your meal. If you dredge your meat in a little flour before browning, you’ll also get a thicker sauce. While some foods will brown during the cooking process, they won’t have the same color and flavor they get when browned first on the stovetop. If you can find the time for this step, the results are worth it.
- Prioritize your ingredients. Hardy, fresh vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, or turnips for example, cook more slowly than meat. To avoid undercooking these types of veggies, place them on the bottom or sides and the meat on top. Add tender veggies (peas) and strongly flavored veggies like broccoli, cauliflower or onions in the last 15 to 60 minutes. Dairy products like sour cream, milk or yogurt, tend to break down in the slow cooker. To prevent this, add them during the last 15 to 30 minutes of cooking. However, prepared items such as the Bob Evans’ Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes in this recipe can be added at the beginning. Stir in spices for the last hour of cooking. They will lose flavor if cooked with the rest of the ingredients for the duration.
- Resist the urge to stir. Each time you lift the lid to do so, heat escapes, extending the needed cooking time by up to half an hour. Some recipes do instruct you to stir halfway through the cooking process or toward the end, but otherwise it's best to leave the lid closed. To check progress without lifting the lid, spin the cover until the condensation falls off. Then it's easy to see inside.
Here’s a deliciously simple slow cooker recipe from Bob Evans Food Products that your whole family will love:
Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 4 to 6 hours
Makes 6 servings
- 1 pound Bob Evans Original Recipe Sausage Roll
- 1 24 ounce package Bob Evans Mashed Potatoes
- 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
- 1 12 ounce jar beef gravy
- In medium skillet over medium heat, crumble and cook sausage until brown. Place in slow cooker. Add peas and carrots. Top with mashed potatoes. Pour gravy on top of potatoes. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours.
For more family-friendly slow cooker recipes, visit www.bobevans.com.
(Family Features) Adopting healthier eating habits doesn’t have to mean resorting to tasteless food. In fact, you may surprise yourself by enjoying your new lineup of healthy, wholesome meals even more than the calorie-laden dishes you covet.
These recipes are just as big on flavor as they are good for you, so you can savor every last bite all day long. Take time to start off the day with a unique twist on a nutritious smoothie by enjoying it in a bowl. Then at lunch, rely on unexpected ingredients like ripe, juicy berries and beans to transform a ho-hum salad into a true culinary delight. Round out the day with a sensible dinner that gives you a healthy serving of protein and veggies seasoned to simple perfection.
Find more nutritious recipes that make it easy to enjoy eating right at culinary.net.
Manageable Main Course
Once the dinner bell rings and it’s time to focus on the night’s main course without overshooting a calorie count, aim for a tasty yet healthy main dish like this recipe for Chicken and Vegetables. Combining skinless chicken thighs with frozen vegetables is a simple way to keep nutrition at the forefront while still enjoying a comforting dinner. Find more health-conscious recipes at health.gov.
Chicken and Vegetables
Recipe courtesy of the USDA
- 1 1/2 tablespoons margarine
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup onions, chopped
- 1 pound chicken thighs (4 ounces each), boneless and skinless
- 1 package (10 ounces) cut green beans, frozen
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- In heavy skillet, melt margarine. Add garlic and onions; stir until blended. Cook over medium heat, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet.
- Place chicken in skillet. Cook over medium heat until chicken is thoroughly done and no longer pink in color, about 12 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm.
- Place green beans, pepper and cooked onions in same skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until beans are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add chicken to vegetable mixture. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 3 minutes.
Note: To remove bone from bone-in chicken thighs: Place chicken on cutting board. Remove skin from thighs. Turn chicken thighs over. Cut around bone and remove.
A Smooth Way to Start Your Day
A wealth of research shows that starting each morning with a nutritious breakfast delivers benefits throughout the day. If you’re pressed for time or simply need to mix up your morning routine, put a fresh spin on a time-saving favorite by making a smoothie bowl.
According to registered dietitian and nutritionist Carolyn Brown, people love to eat with a spoon and find it more mentally and physically satisfying. The same goes for adding texture, such as a crunchy topping like goodnessknows snack squares. These satisfying, gluten free snacks are crafted with the goodness of whole nuts, real fruits and toasted oats, with no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. Divided into four snackable squares per serving and nestled in a layer made with dark chocolate, one individual, two-bite square contains only about 40 calories.
Find out more about how doing a little good for yourself can go a long way at goodnessknows.com.
Oatmeal Banana Smoothie Bowl
Recipe courtesy of Alison Ray of So Chic Life
- 2/3 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- sea salt
- 1/2 cup almond milk, 2 percent milk or soy milk
- 1 small banana (or 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
- goodnessknows snack squares (any flavor)
- grated coconut, to taste
- In small bowl, mix together oats, coconut milk, chia seeds, vanilla and pinch of salt. Cover and place in refrigerator at least 30 minutes, or overnight to help flavors soak in.
- In blender or food processor, combine oat mixture with remaining milk and half of the banana (or applesauce). Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour creamy oats into bowl, and top with snack squares, coconut and slices of remaining banana half.
Tip: To thin consistency, use additional milk.
The sharpness of pecorino cheese, combined with peppery arugula, complements the velvety texture of fava beans in this salad. With nutrition on your mind, a salad is always a go-to choice for a lunch that will please your taste buds without forcing you to sacrifice health goals. Find more nutritional recipes including tasty strawberries at californiastrawberries.com.
Strawberry and Fava Bean Salad with Pecorino
Recipe courtesy of California Strawberry Commission
- 2 quarts water
- kosher or sea salt
- 2 cups shelled fresh fava beans (about 2 pounds in pods)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups fresh California strawberries, stemmed and quartered
- coarsely ground black pepper
- 3 cups rucola (wild arugula)
- pecorino cheese
- In large pot over high heat, bring water to boil.
- Add pinch of salt and fava beans. Boil 1 minute; drain and cool fava beans in ice water.
- Drain fava beans; pinch one end and slip off tough skins of larger beans (Note: skin on small beans is not usually tough). Discard skins.
- Whisk together olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice.
- In large bowl, season fava beans and strawberries with salt and pepper. Add rucola and enough dressing mixture to coat salad lightly. Mix gently and spoon onto platter or six salad plates.
- With vegetable peeler, shave cheese generously over salad. Grind more pepper on top.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family eating dinner photo)
(Family Features) The holiday season evokes thoughts of delicious, hearty and festive meals. Whether planning a family feast or flitting among gatherings, you may find it harder than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep your weight management goals on track. However, with the right approach, you can still enjoy many of your holiday favorites and serve foods your guests will appreciate as much as your waistline does. The key is managing your carbohydrate and sugar intake.
If you’re looking to lose or maintain weight, you know the importance of relying on a lifestyle with proven results – without feeling deprived. A low carb approach is backed by more than 80 scientific studies and still allows you to enjoy a wide variety of delicious foods. When you control your carbohydrate intake, you start burning stored fat as your fuel source instead of carbohydrates. A long-term, well-balanced, low carb eating plan such as Atkins encourages reduced levels of refined carbohydrates and added sugars, while optimizing levels of protein, high fiber carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
This wide range of foods makes it easy to find delicious ways to celebrate the holidays without feeling restricted. Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education at Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., offers several tips to help stay on track this season:
- Leading up to the big meal or holiday party, snack on proteins that contain healthy fats such as nuts or grab some cubes of cheese.
- When crafting a holiday menu, identify a savory main dish that offers a healthy serving of protein, such as this Low Carb Cranberry-Ginger Pork Roast. Finish off the meal with a Low Carb Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake, and you and your taste buds will be very satisfied.
- When alcoholic beverages are being served, confine yourself to a glass (or two at most) of wine or one glass of spirits. Just be sure to have your spirits with club soda and a slice of lemon or lime, or a mixer made without sugar. And make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Low Carb Cranberry-Ginger Pork Roast
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours
- Cooking oil
- 2 pounds pork chops or roast (center rib, bone-in)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning
- 1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 1/8 cup sugar-free maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 cup chicken broth, bouillon or consomme
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
- 1/8 teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter stick (optional)
- Prepare skillet with small amount of oil over medium-high heat. Season chops or roast with salt and pepper then place into skillet and brown each side for about 1 minute, 4 minutes total, to help seal in moisture and give it color. Set aside on plate to cool slightly.
- Finely dice chipotle pepper and chop cranberries, if desired.
- In small bowl, combine syrup, diced chipotle, ginger, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Rub mixture onto roast then place it into slow cooker. Add cranberries and pour chicken broth down side of pan (avoiding rinsing rub from roast).
- Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.
- Remove roast and set on serving platter covered with tent of aluminum foil; reserving liquid.
- Keep slow cooker on low and add water and guar gum or xanthan gum to reserved mixture, whisking to combine. Continue to cook on low heat until sauce thickens slightly. Once thick, enrich sauce, if desired, with butter, adding additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve sauce over pork roast.
Tip: While it is not necessary to chop cranberries (they will break down while cooking), chopping them makes sauce smoother.
Low Carb Browned Pumpkin with Maple and Sage
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter stick
- 1/2 pound pumpkin
- 1/8 cup chopped shallots
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup bouillon vegetable broth
- 1/16 cup sugar-free maple syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon sage, ground
- In medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat butter. Cube pumpkin into 3/4-inch chunks.
- Add pumpkin and shallots to pan; season with salt and pepper. Saute until pumpkin is lightly browned and shallots are translucent, approximately 5-6 minutes.
- Turn heat to low, add vegetable broth and simmer, covered, 8-10 minutes until pumpkin is tender.
- Add maple syrup and sage, tossing to combine. Serve immediately.
Tip: Use fresh sage (7-8 leaves), if possible.
Low Carb Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
- 2/3 cup halved pecan nuts
- 2/3 cup sucralose-based sweetener (sugar substitute), plus 1 tablespoon
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 tablespoon unsalted butter stick
- 1/2 large egg white
- 9 2/3 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 6 ounces canned pumpkin, without salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 1/4 large eggs
- To make crust: Heat oven to 350° F.
- In food processor, combine pecans, 1 tablespoon sugar substitute and cinnamon. Process until finely ground. Toss with butter and egg white; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan, rounding up to cover pan seam. Bake until golden and set, 8-10 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
- To make filling: Reduce oven heat to 325° F.
- In large bowl, combine cream cheese, 2/3 cup sugar substitute and cream. With electric mixer at medium speed, beat until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, mixing to combine. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined.
- Pour batter over crust. Bake until just set, 45-50 minutes. Turn off oven and let stand 10 minutes; transfer to wire rack and cool completely.
- Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 4 hours or overnight. Slice and serve.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
(Family Features) - Hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages and mustard - it's easy to forget that these "all-American" barbecue staples we crave this time of year originally came from Germany.
These traditional foods are delectable. But why not try some über-tasty, new German barbecue recipes? Each recipe uses typical German ingredients that are readily available and each is healthier than you might think.
All of these recipes use heart-healthy canola oil, which has the lowest saturated fat of all popular vegetable oils, is high in vitamin E, and is a good plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. With its light flavor, canola oil allows the summer vegetables and juicy grilled peaches to shine.
Visit www.germanfoods.org to find a local or online retailer of authentic German foods and beverages for barbecues, such as bratwurst, sauerkraut, rolls, mustards, pickles, cheeses and mineral water. Visit www.canolainfo.org for more tips on healthy summer barbecuing.
Tips for Safe Grilling
Eighty-four percent of gas grill owners say it is important to follow basic safe grilling tips when using a gas grill, however, only about one in three (35 percent) say they know a great deal about gas grills, according to the Propane Education & Research Council. To help the 74 million barbecue households in the United States enjoy a safe and healthy summer season, the propane industry has developed its top 10 tips for grilling safely with propane gas:
- When the cylinder is refilled, have the supplier check for dents, damage, rust or leaks.
- After filling or exchanging the cylinder, take it home immediately. Keep the vehicle ventilated and the cylinder valve closed and capped.
- Always use or store cylinders outdoors in an upright (vertical) position. Do not use, store or transport cylinders near high temperatures (this includes storing spare cylinders near the grill).
- Never leave the grill unattended. Always follow grill manufacturer's instructions for lighting the grill and make sure the grill top is open when attempting to light the grill.
- Before connecting the cylinder to a propane gas grill burner for the first time, use a leak-detection solution (a 50/50 mixture of water and liquid soap) to check connections for tightness. Do not use matches or lighters to check for leaks.
- If you suspect a gas leak and are able to safely turn off the gas supply valve, do so immediately and call the fire department.
- Do not allow children to tamper or play with the cylinder or grill.
- Do not smoke while handling a propane cylinder.
- Never pour an accelerant such as lighter fluid or gasoline on the grill.
- When not in use, turn off the grill's burner controls and close the cylinder valve.
For additional tips, visit www.usepropane.com.
- Canola oil for brushing grill
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon German mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 red pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1 green pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
- 2 zucchini, cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1 eggplant, cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound spätzle
- Fresh basil to garnish
- Heat grill on medium heat. Brush grill with canola oil. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup canola oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Place cut-up vegetables in dressing. Toss to coat well. Grill vegetables on skewers or in basket until tender and lightly browned.
- Cook spätzle according to directions on package. Place cooked spätzle in a large bowl and toss with grilled vegetables. If more moisture is desired, whisk together 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and canola oil. Toss, garnish with basil, and serve warm.
Serves 6 to 8
- Canola oil for brushing grill
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 fresh peaches, halved and pitted
- 1 lemon loaf cake sliced into 8 pieces*
- Dark German chocolate shavings
- Mint sprigs
- Heat grill on medium heat. Brush grill with canola oil.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons canola oil, lime juice, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and cinnamon.
- Grill peaches 3 to 4 minutes on each side; grill lemon loaf until grill marks appear. Remove peaches and lemon loaf from grill.
- Place peaches on top of lemon loaf slices and drizzle with prepared dressing.
- Garnish with German chocolate shavings and mint sprigs, and serve with ice cream.
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
*Find the recipe at www.canolainfo.org or buy German imported packaged cake.
- Canola oil for brushing grill
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1 1/2 cups shredded German Emmentaler cheese, divided
- 1 cup German sauerkraut with wine, squeezed dry
- 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons Bavarian mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 pretzel rolls or other sandwich rolls, split horizontally and toasted
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup German mustard
- 2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons minced dried cranberries
- German pickles, red onion rings, sliced tomatoes and lettuce leaves
- Combine turkey, 1 cup cheese, sauerkraut, breadcrumbs, egg white, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix together with hands. Shape into 4 patties.
- Heat propane grill on medium-high. Brush grill with canola oil to prevent sticking. Cook burgers, turning once, 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Toast rolls on the grill, and sprinkle burgers evenly with remaining cheese during the last two minutes of cooking.
- For mustard sauce, whisk together canola oil, German mustard, vinegar and cranberries.
- Place burgers on rolls, spread with mustard sauce and top with accompaniments.
If you're looking for a delicious and easy meal you can eat at home, you just may have overlooked one of the best places to find it - the freezer aisle. Surprised? You're not alone.
While most people view frozen food as a convenience, few people know that some of the best food in your supermarket can be found behind those glass doors. Here are just a few of the most commonly held myths surrounding frozen food:
MYTH: All frozen foods contain preservatives.
It's a common misconception, but added preservatives are not necessary to preserve frozen food. Freezing in itself acts as a natural preservative. In fact, many of your favorite frozen foods, like Stouffer's lasagna, contain no preservatives.
MYTH: Fresh vegetables are better for you than frozen vegetables.
While vegetables from your grocer's produce aisle may look fresher, many of them were actually picked days, weeks or even months earlier. Frozen vegetables, on the other hand, can be flash-frozen. Flash-freezing quickly freezes vegetables to lock in quality and flavor, ensuring the vegetables are just as nutritious as those found in the produce aisle. And, because frozen vegetables last longer, you can actually save money with less produce going bad before you have consumed it.
MYTH:Frozen meals don't use real ingredients.
You may be surprised to learn that many frozen meals use the highest quality ingredients and are made the way you would, if you had the time. This includes real cheese and even pasta made from scratch. Check the packaging of your favorite macaroni and cheese brand for the words "100% real cheese." If it says "100% real cheese" on the label, it is.
MYTH: Freezing preserves food indefinitely.
While freezing dramatically increases the life of your food, all food can lose freshness and flavor over time. Many of your favorite frozen foods list a "best-by" date to ensure you are getting the highest quality meal possible.
MYTH: Frozen prepared meals are more expensive than restaurant take-out meals.
The latest trend in frozen meals includes restaurant- inspired entrées. Stouffer's recently launched a new line of meals called Corner Bistro, which are inspired by casual dining restaurants and include items such as Seafood Scampi, Sesame Chicken and Monterey Chicken. At just under $4 each, these meals are a great alternative to eating out.