Choosing Healthy Snacks For Your Kids

May 18, 2010

Help make your kids' snacking a nutritionally smart strategy! Nutritionist Amber Wilson, MS, RD, offers some tips on healthy alternatives to junk food.

Michelle Obama and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver have embarked on a mission to improve the health of our children. While we wait for a nutrition makeover of school lunches, there’s no better time to look at what our kids are eating outside of school. According to a study published in the March issue of Health Affairs, snacking accounts for 27 percent of children’s daily calories. The 30,000 children surveyed in the study snacked an average of three times per day on candy, chips and other junk food, and this unhealthy snacking added almost 600 calories each day to the children’s diets. But all it takes is a little bit of planning and creativity to make snack time both healthy and fun for your kids.

Snacking, when done smartly, is a good strategy for children because they have small stomachs and are unable to eat large meals at one time. Healthy snacks give kids energy between meals, and also help to focus attention and regulate mood. Focus on fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains when choosing snacks for your kids and limit their consumption of sugary, high-fat junk food. Look through your pantry and throw out the cookies, chips, candy and soda.

Cooking with Kids: Fun and Easy Applesauce Muffins

January 18, 2010

Applesauce muffins on plateWhen it's rainy and you're stuck indoors, it can be fun to get the children involved in the kitchen with an easy, kid-friendly recipe. My kids love to help make these easy applesauce muffins almost as much as they enjoy eating them. With a crunchy brown-sugar topping and a hint of spice, they're perfect with breakfast or an anytime treat.

Kids can help to stir and mix the ingredients together, spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan, and test the muffins to see if they're done. (Keep little hands away from hot ovens and pans, though—safety first!) One thing I often do to make the whole process go more smoothly is to measure out all the ingredients first and array them on the counter. That way they're waiting for the kids when they come into the kitchen to help.

Gingerbread Cookie Sculpting for the Holidays

December 15, 2009

Gingerbread Play DoughFor many of us, the holidays mean it's time to bake cookies and other seasonal treats. It's always fun to get the kids involved, and this gingerbread cookie recipe via What's Cooking's Michelle Stern is a perfect one to use. It doesn't take a long time to make (no rest time in the refrigerator), and it can be worked and shaped like play-dough. Unlike a lot of cookie doughs it holds its form and doesn't melt into a shapeless blob in the oven.

Gingerbread Cookie Play-Dough

5 ½ c. flour
3 t. baking soda
1 ¾ c. dark brown sugar
¼ c. dark molasses
4 ½ t. ground cinnamon
3 t. ground ginger
½ t. cloves
¼ t. salt
1 c. melted butter
½ c. boiling water
1 egg, beaten

Lentils, A Superfood for Adults and Kids Alike

October 19, 2009

LentilsI’m always on the lookout for some new ideas for dinner, especially healthy things. My husband, the cook that he is, made a wonderful soup the other night that brought back memories of my foods that I ate when I was pregnant. I ate a lot of lentils when I was pregnant, due to their high vitamin B and folic acid contents. My husband made a big pot of a wonderful lentil and greens soup that we’ve been eating for the past couple of nights. The really cool thing is that I discovered that my kids love lentils. I scooped some out of the soup, and the kids ate them and even asked for more.

After doing some research online about lentils, I discovered that Health Magazine considers them a “superfood.” Lentils, in all their forms, offer lots of protein and cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, twice as much iron as other legumes, and lots of B vitamins and folate, which are especially important for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Lentils can be used in so many different foods, especially Indian food, where they're a staple for a largely vegetarian population. Here is the recipe for my husband’s lentil soup, which I made him write down from memory, since he kind of made it up as he went along. This soup is perfect for a cool fall evening. It contains leafy greens like kale or chard, whose earthy flavor complements the lentils. Plus they’re really, really good for you, too. He made this soup with the regular old brown lentils that can be found in any supermarket, but you can also use the pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe's if you're short on time.

Luring Your Kids into Eating Healthy School Lunches

August 19, 2009

healthy school lunch Guest contributer Michelle Stern, of What's Cooking, offers some tasty ideas for healthy and practical school lunches.

Our fishing expedition on Flathead Lake this summer was comical. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to catch anything, even though the boat next to us was reeling in fish every time we looked!  Clearly, there was something we weren’t doing right.  As a man from the next boat yelled over to us, “What kind of bait are you using?” a crazy thought entered into my mind: Feeding children is a lot like fishing—you have to have the right lure, or they won’t bite! Packing desirable school lunches is a lot like the fine art of selecting an appealing lure while fishing.  Try some of these stress-free strategies for packing lunches that are healthy for your kids and the environment. They’ll be sure to bite!

Tasty Frozen (and Healthy) Treats and Lunchbox Goodies

August 12, 2008

ice popsThe other day while shopping I ran across something that I hadn't seen for years: ice pop (AKA Popsicle) molds. I'm sure they've been around all the while; it's just that they hadn't exactly been on my radar until I had kids. Anyhow, I picked up a set and we've been experimenting with making different kinds of healthy and tasty frozen treats. We've tried the obvious fruit juice, as well as various flavors of yogurt.

Coincidentally, I found some recipes for frozen fruit ice pops on the Food Network's website. The recipes--for strawberry and blueberry fruit pops--involve whirring fresh fruit and various other ingredients together in the blender and then freezing in the molds. They sound pretty good, so we're going to give them a try.

BBQ Drumsticks with Brown Sugar Sauce

July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July! Here's a another great kid-friendly recipe from What's Cooking's Michelle Stern, perfect for your Independence Day barbecue or any other day, for that matter. What's Cooking offers cooking classes, parties, and gifts for children and families. Visit What's Cooking at

BBQ Drumsticks with Brown-Sugar Sauce

My husband is my best critic in the kitchen - he loves bold flavors and raved about this sauce. We used Trader Joe's organic ketchup which doesn't include any high fructose corn syrup--I think it made all the difference.

1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs cider vinegar
3 pounds chicken legs
salt and pepper to taste

Cooking with Kids: Corn Bread Pizza

June 13, 2008

Here's another fun and easy recipe to make with your kids from What's Cooking's Michelle Stern. This recipe for Corn Bread Pizza is from What's Cooking Weekly, a subscription service that offers five healthy meals ideas for your family every week, including easy recipes, shopping lists, nutrition information, and tips on how to get children involved in the kitchen. Every Friday morning, you will receive an e-mail with a summary of the menus for the week along with a link to the website. It's easy and all your meals are planned out for you for the entire week. Print out the grocery list to buy all the items you need for all your meals.

Cooking With Kids: BBQ Chicken BLT

May 24, 2008

BBQ Chicken BLT

Cooking with your children is a great way to spend quality family time, and, above all, it's fun! Here's a delicious BBQ idea, courtesy of Michelle Stern, owner of What's Cooking. What's Cooking is a Marin-based business that offers cooking workshops in home or school for kids aged 2-1/2 through 19.
Mmmmm...BLT's in the summer, when the tomatoes are at their best! The barbeque adds great flavor to the chicken and the bread, but beware: your neighbors might come over to see what you are making for dinner! Make extra chicken to add to a salad or for lunch the next day. Serve with baked chips and pickles.

8 slices of soft country bread  

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