Thursday, September 17, 2009

Great suggestions!

We have been getting quite a few wonderful suggestions from our providers about how they add variety to their meals and how they keep their menus exciting for their children. We included some of these suggestions in our latest monitoring unit but we wanted to post some more here because there were so many we didn't have room for. It has made me smile to read about all of the ways our providers are making their mealtimes fun!

Here are some more suggestions:

  • Call hamburgers and sloppy joes "crabby patties".
  • Squeeze happy faces with ketchup on the children's plates.
  • Use dinner roll dough to make "roll animals" such as turtles.
  • Make a "waffle pizza". Spread spaghetti sauce on the waffle and have children put ingredients in each waffle hole (chunks of ham, chicken, cheese, grape tomatoes, pepper, pineapple).
  • Put chopped grapes and finely diced celery into chicken salad for a crunchy texture.
  • Serve an all finger food meal-no forks or knives needed!
  • Stir cereal into yogurt for extra crunch.
  • Serve a variety of shapes on the plate- circle, triangle, rectangle.
  • Serve the "smiley face" potatoes that can be found in the store with the frozen french fries.
  • Color the food to match a holiday (Valentine's day, St. Patrick's day, etc.)

These helpful suggestions just keep coming in so I will post more as I get them. If you are a Wildwood provider who sent a suggestion in, thank you!

Friday, September 11, 2009

More free resources

Here are a few more free resources that would be great for home child care providers:

You can get a free Beech-Nut baby food starter kit and coupons if you sign up for their eNewsletter:

If you are exploring ways help the environment, the EPA has a free book that would be a great addition to your lesson plans. You can order a free copy of The Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned up by calling 1-800-490-9198 and asking for item # EPA420-K-07-001 (limit one book per household). For more information, their website is:

If you know of any more free resources, feel free to share them!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Try something new!

Have you ever thought of substituting spaghetti squash for your regular pasta when serving spaghetti? Spaghetti squash is a type of winter squash. After cooking, you can scrape noodle-like strands from the flesh that look just like spaghetti. I was recently asked how spaghetti squash comapares nutritionally to regular pasta so I thought that I would share with you what I found.

Spaghetti squash is lower in calories than regular wheat pasta. The squash has 42 calories per cup vs. the 220 calories per cup in spaghetti. It also provides beta-carotene (vitamin A) and three times the potassium of pasta. On the other hand, the pasta has more iron and protein than the squash. If you choose a whole-wheat pasta, you will get more fiber in the pasta than in the squash.

Bottom line: if you are looking for a fun way to serve a new vegetable, serve the squash! It is a nutrient-rich food and a fun way to serve an orange vegetable. (The squash is creditable as a vegetable, not a bread. So if you choose the squash, serve another bread at the meal) If you choose to serve the regular pasta, serve a whole-wheat version for a nutrient-rich choice.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Too many cucumbers?

It seems like it has been a great year for cucumbers! They are plentiful in gardens and farmer's markets right now. Cucumbers are delicious sliced and eaten raw, by themselves or in a sandwich with lowfat cream cheese. If you looking for another way to serve those cukes, here is a great recipe to use.

Creamy Cucumber Salad

you will need:
9 cups thinly sliced cucumbers (peeled or not)
8 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 drops Tabasco sauce

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients and stir well. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; pour over cuke mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.