Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Determines Children's Eating Behavior?

As parents and caregivers, we all want the children in our lives to eat a nutritious diet so that they can be healthy and active children.  But we all know that getting children to eat a healthy diet can sometimes be a challenge!  I wanted to share with you an article that was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  The authors put together a review of the current data on determinants of children's eating habits.  They reported on strategies that worked, and those that had negative effects on healthy eating habits in children.

Here is what they found:
1)  Overcontrol, restriction, pressure to eat and the promise of rewards all have negative effects on children's food acceptance.
2)  Having at least one parent at the family meal is associated with children eating more fruits and vegetables.
3)  Severely restricting the diet of overweight children may cause that child to be more likely to overeat.
4)  The earlier a child is exposed to a wide variety of foods, the healthier their diet is as an adult.
5)  Having fruits and vegetables widely available in your home will increase your child's intake of these foods.
6)  In the same manner, the more "junk food" you have in your home, the more of it your child will consume.

As the authors of this paper put it: "Children like what they know and eat what they like".  In other words, children grow to like the foods that are made available to them on a regular basis and this shapes the types of foods they will prefer for the rest of their lives.

What we need to be asking ourselves about the food environment in our homes is:
  • Are we buying, preparing, and serving foods that we want our children to get in the habit of eating?  
  • Are we practicing the "Division of Responsibility" during our meal service and allowing our children to determine how much they want to eat or not eat, and not pressuring them to eat?       
  • Are we serving a wide variety of foods and introducing our children to many different healthy foods?
Something to think about as we head into a new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Whole Grain Wednesdays- Whole Grain Biscuit Mix

Happy Wednesday!   I made another biscuit recipe this week.  I know that I just shared another biscuit recipe with you, but I really like this one because it is a "mix" that you can store in the refrigerator and use as you need it.  I also like the fact that it has a variety of whole grains in it!  If you don't have spelt flour, and don't want to buy any, you can use additional whole wheat pastry flour in its place.

Biscuit Mix
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup nonfat powdered milk
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
7 Tablespoons cold butter

In a large bowl mix the first 9 ingredients (all ingredients except butter).  Stir well.  Grate the butter into the bowl and toss with the flour mixture to coat.  Using your fingers, break the butter up into small pieces.  Store in plastic zip-top bags in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the biscuits.  (This makes enough for 5 batches of biscuits).

To make one batch of biscuits (about 5 biscuits):
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Mix one cup of the biscuit mix with 1/4 cup of water.  Stir with a fork until just combined.  Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 3/4 inch thick.  Cut with biscuit cutter.  Combine the biscuit scraps and make more biscuits until you use all of the dough.  Transfer the biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Crediting information:  One batch of biscuits makes 12 servings.  Each serving creditable for 1 bread/bread alternate at any meal or snack for 3-5 year old children.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Got Leftovers?

Tired of thowing out food?  Wouldn't you rather save money by using up your leftovers?  Of course you would!  So, instead of letting those leftover mashed potatoes sit around in your refrigerator, try featuring them in another dish.  The LeftOver Chef website  makes it easy for you to do just that.  By heading over to their website, you can find several recipes that contain the item you want to use up.  Or, you can browse the different sections such as appetizers, poultry, side dishes, salads, etc., to find a recipe you like.

And what about those mashed potatoes taking up space in your refrigerator?  I typed "mashed potatoes" into the keyword search area and LeftOver Chef gave me 140 choices for recipes!  The website also has articles about using up food as well as a section on food safety, so check it out today.