Friday, March 26, 2010

Tis' the Season

Strawberries are starting to appear in the grocery stores must be spring! I truly love any type of berry so I am just ecstatic it when the first strawberries of the season appear. The next thing you know, it will be blueberry and raspberry season! Do you need a reminder about why you should feed your children these yummy berries? (I think that it is always fun to remind ourselves about just why certain foods are so nutritious).

Here is the nutrition "scoop" on strawberries: One cup of strawberries has about 149% of your daily vitamin C requirement. It also has 3 grams of fiber, plus other nutrients such as folate, manganese, magnesium and potassium. Strawberries (and other berries) are also a great source of healthy antioxidants! All this for just around 50 calories. So you can see that strawberries are not only yummy, they are a nutrient-rich food!

Here is a recipe for strawberry muffins that I have not tried yet. I plan on trying it soon (and probably tweeking it a little to make it more nutritious). Let me know what you think if you try it first! I will post my "tweeked" version soon.

Strawberry Muffins
2 1/2 cups enriched all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon sugar

Combine flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and stir well. Add the sliced strawberries and stir. Make a well in the center of the mixture.

Combine the buttermilk, margarine, vanilla, and eggs. Add to the dry mixture, stirring until just moistened.

Divide the batter between 18 muffin cups sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the remaining 1 T. of sugar over the muffins.

Bake at 350 degrees or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove muffins from the pan to a wire rack. Cool and serve.

Crediting information:
1/2 of a muffin is creditable for 1 bread/bread alternate at any meal for 1-5 year old children.

My favorite book to read to children about strawberries is:
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood! My kids loved this book and I'm sure yours will too!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sling Carriers for Infants

Have you heard about the recent warning from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission regarding infant sling carriers? The warning is a result of 14 deaths that have occured when infants were suffocated while being carried in a infant sling. Most of the babies that died were either a low birth weight twin, were born prematurely, or had a breathing problem such as a cold. You can see the official press release here:

Please share this with anyone that you know who carries their baby in a sling.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gardening With Children

It's March! I don't know about you, but once March arrives, I start thinking about planting my garden. Gardening with children can be both an adventure and a challenge! Helping children grow a garden is such a great way to ensure that they understand the circle of life, and also helps them reconnect with nature. I often worry about the fact that many children today don't get enough chances to dig in the dirt and delight in watching a garden grow. Not only do children enjoy tending a garden, but we also know that they are more likely to eat those vegetables that they have put so much time and effort into!

Here is a list of some good books to read to get everyone excited about the planting to come! (These are from the Michigan Team Nutrition Preschool Booklist)

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
The Enormous Carrot by Vladimir Vagin
The Enormous Potato by Aubrey Davis
From the Garden: A Counting Book About Growing Food by Michael Dahl
A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds by Jean Richards
The Giant Carrot by Jan Peck
Grandpa's Garden Lunch by Judith Caseley
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
I'm a Seed by Jean Marzollo
Jody's Beans by Malachy Doyle
Oliver's Vegetables by Vivian French
One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge
Our Community Garden by Barbara Pollack
The Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall
Vegetables in the Garden by Pascale de Bourgoing and Gallimard Jeunesse
We Can Eat the Plants by Rozanne Lanczak Williams


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Where Do You Store Your Vitamins?

Did you know that certain vitamin supplements can break down and become ineffective if you store them in the wrong place? You may already be aware that water-soluble vitamins such as the B vitamins and vitamin C can be destroyed if you cook foods rich in these vitamins in a lot of water. They can also be degraded by exposure to air, so an orange that is peeled and left out for hours will have significantly less vitamin C than a freshly peeled orange.

So, I guess it is not too surprising that researchers have found that the humid environment in bathrooms and kitchens can degrade vitamin supplements stored in these rooms. The researchers also found that storing the supplements in containers with lids and keeping the lids tightly closed did not seem to help. This is because each time you open the bottle, a little bit of moisture can get in.

Bottom line = Storing vitamins in a cool, dry place is best whenever possible.

Here is the link to the vitamin research article if you are interested in reading it:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Choking is a Leading Cause of Injury and Death Among Children

Did you know that on average, a child will die every 5 days in the U.S. from choking on food? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just published a new policy statement meant to minimize choking risks in children. According to the policy statement, the AAP recommends:

  • Warning labels on foods that pose a high choking risk.
  • A recall of food products that pose a significant choking hazard.
  • The establishment of a nationwide food-related choking-incident surveillance and reporting system.
  • A commitment from food manufacturers to design new food and redesign existing food to minimize choking risk, to the extent possible.

As a child care provider, you are probably aware of foods that are "high-risk" choking foods. These include hot dogs, nuts, popcorn, round hard candies, raw carrots, marshmallows, meat, chunks of peanut butter, and whole grapes. In fact, hot dogs pose the greatest risk. Due to their shape, they cause more choking deaths than any other food.

Here are some safety tips that you might want to share with the parents and guardians of the children in your care (tips from Nationwide Children's Hospital):

  • Do not give children younger than 4 any round, firm foods unless they have been cut into very small pieces. Cut hot dogs lengthwise and cut grapes into quarters. This changes the dangerous round shape that can block a young child’s throat.
  • Do not give toddlers other high risk foods, such as hard candy, nuts, seeds and raw carrots.
  • Never let small children run, play or lie down while eating.
  • Keep coins and other small items out of reach of young children at all times.
  • Carefully read warning labels on toys before giving them to young children.
  • To check if a part of a toy is too small, use a small parts test device, which is available at many toy stores.
  • Additionally, parents and caregivers should learn first aid for choking and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event a choking episode occurs.

To see the AAP policy statement, go to: