The original article was published on October 31, 2011.
Witches, pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and lots and lots of candy. Today is Halloween. Worried about your kid’s candy consumption? Me too. With all the crazy additives from food dyes and preservatives,to partially hydrogenated oils and the 18 million different types of sweeteners out there, it sucks. Oh, and don’t even try to pretend that you’re not worried about all the candy YOU’LL be eating. So what to do? Turns out there are some creative ideas out there to deal with the candy issue:
As summer winds down, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to be packing in those lunch boxes, snack bags, and what you’ll be feeding the kiddos when they come bounding off the bus. First and foremost is to feed them a nutritious, protein-packed breakfast to start their day. And, no, a Pop-Tart doesn’t count. Those tasty pastries are essentially a giant candy bar filled with sugar, HFCS, trans fats, artificial colors and sodium. Don’t get me wrong, I loved them growing up, but the over 50 ingredients inside can lead to a myriad of health problems down the road and a sugar crash before they even finish first period.
A great start to the day could include a scrambled egg with whole grain toast, whole grain waffle with peanut butter, oatmeal with berries, or a protein smoothie (blend berries, whey protein powder, nut butter, spinach, yogurt, milk or milk alternative).
There are many prepackaged options out there for lunches, but be careful of dangerous preservatives, trans fats, excessive amounts of sodium and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that are often laden in those foods. The worst offenders are Lunchables, 100-calorie snacks, packages of chips, cheez-its and juice boxes. The winner for worst offender is the Uncrustable sandwich. It contains 38 ridiculous ingredients (5 of which are sugar and more than a dozen are chemicals) like HFCS, trans fats, sorbates, sulfates, and phosphates. A simple PB & jelly takes 1 minute to make – please make them from scratch. I’m disgusted that my children’s school offers these as alternatives to a hot lunch.
So, here’s my shopping list for the Back-to-School Pantry:
It’s important that lunch contain a protein item, a whole grain carb option, fruit and lots of water. Kids don’t need a sugary treat or cookie for lunch. Between all the treats and birthday parties at school, they get enough sugar! They need a highly nutritious meal that can carry them through the rest of the day for optimal learning.
Some of my favorite containers:
Top photo by o5com via Flickr
About the author:
Cindy Santa Ana, CHC
Cindy Santa Ana is a Certified Health Coach dedicated to helping clients discover the healing properties of real food. Successfully healing her own allergies, high cholesterol and migraines with health-promoting foods and exercise was the catalyst that transformed Cindy’s life, health and profession, and she is passionate about sharing this information with others. www.UnlockBetterHealth.com
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My hubby used to joke that he looked forward to having a child so he could order food for himself off the kids menu. Why? They are loaded with junk at a reduced price.
Here is a typical kids menu:
Pasta with Butter or Marinara Sauce
Grilled Cheese & French Fries
Chicken Fingers & Fries
Macaroni & Cheese
Updated 4/19/12: Starbucks has announced that due to the controversy surrounding the use of cochineal extract, that they will use lycopene to color their Strawberry & Creme Frappuccino and Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Starbucks is also dropping cochineal extract in their Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie.
Virtually every news outlet is reporting that Starbucks is using cochineal extract in their popular strawberry beverages. When I read this, my first thought was, how did people find out? Starbucks doesn’t post or provide any of their ingredients to consumers (only allergy information and the required nutritional information). Apparently, a vegan Starbucks barista notified the site, www.thisdishisvegetarian.com, that Starbucks had changed the formula of their Strawberries & Cream Frappucinos and Strawberry Smoothies to contain cochineal extract. The barista also included a few cell phone pics of the packages to show the ingredient lists.
So what’s all the fuss about cochineal extract? It’s made from…bugs. It’s used as an alternative to artificial dyes and can be found in many foods including yogurt, candy, applesauce, baked goods, and other red processed foods. Here is an excerpt from our Cochineal Extract Ingredient Report on exactly what this dye is and how it’s made:
Your family is visiting a friend’s family for the holiday weekend. The friend generously offers to have you stay at their house. Things are going great until it’s lunchtime and out comes the florescent orange mac & cheese and fake lemonade. What do you do? Well, you have a few options: (1) tell yourself that it’s only a few meals and it won’t seriously impact the kids’ health (2) tell your host that you’d never feed your child that crap (3) come prepared in anticipation of this possible scenario.
Health is incredibly important and I’m generally in favor of doing whatever you have to do to eat healthy. However, friendship is also precious and waving your nose in the air at her meal suggestion is not advisable either. No one likes to be made to feel bad about the way they feed their family. Instead, come prepared. Here are a few suggestions to survive a junk food weekend.
Product: Curious Chef 3-Piece Nylon Knife Set
Category: Kid’s Cooking Tools
Ever since my daughter was old enough to stand, she has been helping in the kitchen. In the beginning it was just pouring in the spices or stirring the batter, but very soon it evolved into her wanting to do everything mom and dad were doing. That’s all fine and dandy until you think about a 3-year old wielding your Henckels. She was so determined to chop, that we allowed her to try out a variety of plastic knives. The result? Mushed veggies, but safe fingers. There had to be a better solution.
The 3-piece knife set includes three sizes: small, medium and large. These nylon knives are dishwasher safe and BPA free. The knives feature a serrated cutting edge with blunt tip; ergonomic handle for small hand and “soft touch button grips.” The products state they are appropriate for children ages 5+, but every child is different, so you use at your own discretion.
Growing up, I remember more than one occasion being told not to play with my food. Of course, I think I was moving things around my plate to avoid eating them and then squishing them to diddle away the time at the table. Now that I am a Mom of two young girls, things are different in my household. I am all for playing with our food, because the end result is, we all have a laugh and the food really does get eaten.
My kids are much more into veggies than I ever was. My youngest daughter, 9, makes some of the most creative and adorable little cucumber, carrot, spinach creatures and cars I have ever seen. And then she gobbles them up. Letting her play and get her creative juices flowing allows her some time to have some fun at the dinner table and then devour her creations afterwards. I am usually heard saying, “That car/wagon/cow or whatever that thing is looks delicious!”