Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quick Snack

I am so glad that clementines are showing up again!  I look forward to having them as a snack this time of year, and I always remember that they start appearing around Thanksgiving time because we have them with our breakfast on Thanksgiving morning.  So, I went and checked out the "California Cuties" website to do a little research, and found out that like most citrus crops they are in season from November- April.  I also learned that "Cuties" are actually two different types of mandarin oranges.  I love them because of their size and the fact that they are easy to peel.  Their smaller size and lack of seeds to spit out make them a hit with my kids too.   

What's so great about Cuties?  2 Cuties have only 80 calories but supply 4 grams of fiber (14% of daily needs), 11% of daily potassium needs, 290% (!) of daily vitamin C needs, and are a good source of many other nutrients such as thiamin, niacin, folate and vitamin B6.  They are truly a nutrient-rich food and are so tasty.  Consider serving them for snack before they disappear again in the spring!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Fresh cranberries are back in the stores, just in time for Thanksgiving.  I hadn't seen them and I was starting to get worried a couple of weeks ago.  Fortunately, I spotted some at my local grocery store the week before Thanksgiving!  I start craving fresh cranberries this time of year.  Fresh cranberry waldorf salad (see recipe below) is one of my favorite side dishes at the Thanksgiving table.  It only takes 1 1/2 cups of cranberries to make this salad, so I use the rest of the bag to make another fall favorite of mine, cranberry walnut bread!

You are probably aware of the fact that cranberries can play a role in the prevention of urinary tract infections (this is due to their high antibacterial properties).  However, cranberries are also a great source of vitamin C, fiber, manganese, and vitamin K.  As an extra bonus, cranberries are chock-full of antioxidants which may help prevent heart disease, stroke and some types of cancers.

Since fresh cranberries are only available for a short time at the grocery store, I always buy extra and put some in the freezer.  They come in handy in the spring when I want to make more cranberry-walnut bread!

Cranberry Waldorf Salad
This salad is fruity and creamy and my kids love it too!

You will need:
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup chopped red apple
1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts*
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
8 ounces lowfat vanilla yogurt

1. Combine all ingredients, toss to coat.
2. Cover and chill 2 hours. Stir before serving.

Crediting information: Makes 16 servings. Each serving is creditable for 1/4 cup of the fruit/vegetable component at lunch or supper for 3-5 year old children.
*Nuts can be choking hazard for children under the age of 4

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Provider Resources

Do you have bulletin boards or posters in your child care home?  If you do, you may be interested in the TEAM Nutrition website.  I love this website because it has links to all sorts of resources.  You can find posters to download, or ideas for bulletin board lessons.  The are many topics to choose from incuding general nutrition, hand washing, and even whole grains.  It is worth a visit anytime you need ideas or inspiration!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Variety Still the Spice of Life!

You might have noticed that some of my favorite words as a nutritionist are the words "variety" and "moderation".  That is, the healthiest diet is one that includes a variety of foods in moderation since this gives us the best chance to get all of the nutrients that we need.  A large recent study offers more proof that variety is indeed a vital part of a healthy diet.  The study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, used data from about half a million people living in Europe.  The participants in the study were divided into groups depending on how many of 14 different fruits and 26 different vegetables they ate over a two-week period.  When the study was completed 9 years later, the smokers who ate the greatest variety of vegetables had a 27 percent reduced risk of lung cancer compared to those who consumed the least variety. 

So, variety in our diet not only keeps us from getting bored, it is likely the most nutritious way to eat too.  Do you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every week, or do you find yourself buying and eating the same ones over and over again?  If you answered yes, why not vow to try something new the next time you are at the grocery store.  A great way to do this is to buy fruits and vegetables in season.  They are usually less expensive that way, and they are at the peak of their taste too.  Follow the seasons to ensure that you get a variety of produce all year 'round!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Food allergy app

If you have an iPhone and would like some help decoding food labels, this app is for you!  The "FoodEssentials Scanner" app allows you to scan items at the store with your iPhone and gives you easy-to-understand information about that product's nutrients and ingredients.  This app can be especially helpful for people food shopping for a child or family member who has food allergies because the app can alert you to the fact that the product contains peanuts, gluten and other allergens. 

Get the app at iTunes.com ($2).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Tips for Grandparents

Many people will be traveling to their relatives' homes for the upcoming holidays.  While it is wonderful to see our friends and families during the holiday season, a lot of stress can be caused by the changing of our childrens' eating habits while they are there.  I remember when I was little, we used to go to my grandparent's house for Christmas.  We were rarely allowed to have soda except at their house, so it was a real treat for us to have it at Christmas.  Fortunately, my grandparents also had a lot of healthy food around for us to eat too and they never "pushed" us to eat certain foods or more food in general!   However, that is often not the case, and some families and family members may have different opinions about what your children should be eating.

I found this post on the Fooducate blog to be helpful, and it could easily be passed on to any friends or family members if you are concerned about this problem in your family! http://www.fooducate.com/blog/2010/11/17/four-food-tips-for-grandparents/

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cream Soup Mix

I recently found a recipe from the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website that I wanted to share with you.  This website is a great resource for saving money on healthy foods.  I love finding recipes that substitute for canned and processed foods which I can use to "make my own".  Most processed foods contain way too much sodium and/or sugar and preservatives for my liking.  I rarely use canned soup, but I do have a potato casserole recipe that my family loves that calls for a can of cream of celery soup.  I used this dry cream soup mix in place of the canned soup and it worked like a charm.  This version is lower in fat, sodium, and has no preservatives.  I also love the fact that the homemade version costs at least 50% less than the canned! 

Here is the recipe:
(Note: I didn't have dried thyme leaves so I substituted 1/2 teaspoon of ground thyme which I found to be too much.  The thyme flavor was rather prominent.  Next time I will be sure to add the leaves!)

Dry Cream Soup Mix
(Equal to 7 cans cream soup)

2 cups instant nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup sodium-free dry chicken or vegetable bouillon
2 Tablespoons dried minced onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container.
To use as a substitute for 1 can condensed soup:
       Mix 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 1/4 cups water.
Stovetop: cook and stir with whisk until thickened.
Microwave: using a large microwave safe bowl; cook on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring with whisk every 30 seconds until thick.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Snow Snacks

The arrival of our first snow on Tuesday got me thinking about some "snow snacks" that I used to serve when I was a child care provider.  The kids in my care would get so excited about the first snow that we used to commemorate the occasion by making some tasty snacks!  One of their favorites was snowflake tortillas.  I gave them each a tortilla which they folded up as you would fold a piece of paper to make a paper snowflake, (usually in half and then in half again, being careful not to break the tortilla).  They then would take turns using the kitchen scissors to cut shapes on the folds of the tortilla.  After removing the cut-away pieces, they could then unfold their tortilla "snowflake".  After brushing the tortilla with a little butter, and sprinkling on a little cinnamon-sugar (or using shredded white cheese such as Monterey Jack or mozzarella instead), we would toast the snowflakes in the oven.  Sometimes we even decorated the snowflakes with mandarin oranges or berries after they had been toasted.

Another favorite "snow snack" was "trees in the snow".  We would arrange small stalks of broccoli in a bowl of cottage cheese and drizzle it with a little Italian dressing. 

What about you?  Do you have any special way of celebrating the first snow?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Moldy Food and Food Safety

Have you ever wondered if a food with mold on it is safe to eat?   For instance, is it okay to eat that cheddar cheese if you cut the mold off of it?  We all hate wasting food, but some foods can be dangerous to eat if they are moldy and are best thrown away.  I found a great fact sheet from the USDA that can help you decide if you can safely eat a moldy food or if you should toss it.  Most foods should be discarded, but I was surprised at a couple that can be saved once the mold is cut away!  And in case you are curious, hard cheeses can indeed be eaten if you cut off the portion one inch around the mold.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Too Much Halloween Candy?

If you still have Halloween candy hanging around, or have just decided that your kids have had enough, why not do something creative with the rest?  Visit the website candyexperiments.com and use your leftover candy to learn about science.  Kids can learn lessons about density, color separation, or even test candy for acid ingredients that make it sour.
 Fun with food!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Recipe On Our Website

Have you checked out the recipe section of our website yet?  Just go to the top of the website home page and go to the "Food Program" bar.  At the bottom of the drop-down menu you will see "Try Our Recipes".  If you click on that, you will find our recipe section.  I just added a new recipe today that was sent in by a Wildwood provider.  If you have a creditable recipe that you would like to share with us, we would love to have it!  You can mail it in with your claim, or submit it on the "contact us" section of the website.  

In the meantime, enjoy Charlotte's recipe, it's a keeper!