Importance of Breakfast and How a Kids Eat Smart Club Can Help

We’ve all heard the saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, well there is no myth to this saying…it’s true.  When you awake in the morning after a good night’s sleep your body has been without food for hours.  Breakfast allows your body to restore the fuel and nutrients you need to start the day energized, alert and well nourished.  This is especially important for children who are heading out the door for school.

At Kids Eat Smart Foundation we believe that “Good Eating = Good Thinking” and there is a great amount of evidence that have suggested the same.  A healthy breakfast can help improve memory, academics, behaviour and attendance.  Children who don’t eat breakfast may feel tired, irritable and have trouble concentrating at school.  When your child leaves the house in the morning you want to ensure they have started their day with a balanced meal that has provided them with lots of nutrition and a full belly.

Children go to school without breakfast for many reasons; slept in, wasn’t hungry before leaving home, busy households or because there is no food at home.  To ensure your children start their day with a full belly have some quick breakfast items at home that they can take with them (ie. bananas, apples, juice packs, trail mix, mini muffins, etc).  When that is not possible, encourage your child to avail of the Kids Eat Smart Club at their school. Kids Eat Smart Clubs are for all children and they go for many different reasons. It’s a great way to start their day, chat and socialize with friends and staff and most importantly be nourished and ready to learn. We hope that every child leaves their Kids Eat Smart Breakfast Club with a full belly and a smile on their face.

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If your child’s school does not have a Kids Eat Smart Club, contact us, we can help!

Janel Genge is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador

Back to School – Preparing Lunches!

Well it’s that time again, children and parents throughout the province are preparing for back to school. For most, while it’s been a great break from school for the children, summer has been quite busy. By now most of your back to school shopping for clothing, supplies and other necessities have already been done…but what about back to school grocery shopping?

When the normal routine of school begins again, you’ll want to make sure that you are well prepared for school snacks and lunches. As we all know, not knowing want to pack for lunches or packing last minute can be a real chore and time consuming….so start today and plan ahead!

You want to ensure your child’s foods are healthy and safe, here are some tips to consider when preparing for back to school lunches:

  • Pick up bulk fruits and veggies: prep them when you return from the grocery store and put them in small baggies or containers so that they are ready to go
  • If you’re picking up yogurt, you can save money by buying in bulk, but don’t forgot to look at the expiration date so you know that they will be eaten well before that time.
  • When buying crackers and other grains, choose whole grains. Try to choose grains that are a good source of fibre (15% daily value or more) and low in sodium (5% daily value or less).
  • When making pastas, soups, stews and casseroles make extra and freeze the extras in portion size containers for lunches for the next few weeks.
  • Purchase an insulated lunch bag that keeps cold foods cold until they are ready to eat or warmed in a microwave. You may want to add an ice pack to be safe!
  • Buy your child an insulated drinking bottle or thermos that keep drinks nice and cold. It could also be used to keep soups and stews nice and warm until lunch time.

Being prepared and trying these suggestions will make the first weeks of school and the rest of the school year a little easier when it comes to packing a healthy and safe lunch for your child.

Janel Genge is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

Teaching Your Child the Facts about Healthy Eating

Healthy eating begins at home! After doing two presentations this week with children ages 6 to 12 years, I realized that although there are many children that are well educated about nutrition, healthy eating and healthy food choices, there are others that are not aware of the importance of healthy eating and what foods are considered to be “healthy.” As parents, guardians, teachers and people children look up to, “role models,” we have the duty to teach them to make the right choices, even when it comes to food.

We all know that children are a product of their environment and tend to do as they see and not always what they are told. For that reason, it’s important that as role models we not only teach children how to make the right choices, we also need to show them. When it comes to eating healthy and making healthy food choices, telling a child to do something will not work if you, as their role model, are doing differently. To teach children the importance of good nutrition, you should also talk to them about the benefits of eating healthy and the consequences of not. To practice healthy eating habits at home and teaching your child the same, here are some important steps to consider:

  • Eat as a family
  • Put the same foods on your plate that you want your children to have on theirs
  • Only offer your child regular meals and snacks
  • Offer a variety of foods at each meal; choose foods from all 4 food groups
  • If your child claims not to like what is being served don’t cook them an alternative; they will eventually eat it
  • Reintroduce new foods often; they will learn to like them
  • Involve children in grocery shopping and planning their lunches
  • Most importantly, promote a healthy attitude towards eating and exercise

Janel Genge is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador

Blueberries!

Canada is one of the largest producers of wild blueberries in the word, and many come from the Atlantic Provinces. To me, there aren’t many local foods that can beat the taste of freshly picked Newfoundland and Labrador blueberries, they are simply delicious. Now that they are ripe, people all over our province have been picking these delicious berries over the past week or so.

Blueberries are very nutritious and have many health benefits; they are rich in dietary antioxidants and a variety of vitamins and minerals. They are high in fibre and may contribute to heart health as they are known to reduce blood cholesterol levels. To have the availability and ability to pick this nutritious food, literally in our backyard, is nothing but awesome.

Blueberries are a food that can be used in many recipes. Blueberries are delicious added to pancakes, muffins, smoothies, cereal, sauces and many other ways. Surprisingly, they are great in other, more non-traditional dishes as well. Their fresh, natural flavour enhances the taste of meats such as pork, chicken and game, and chefs often combine them with other fruits or berries to make the finest desserts.

Below is a great smoothie recipe that you can try with the fresh blueberries you just picked!

Blue Wave Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh or slightly thawed frozen blueberriesblue-wave-smoothie
  • 1 container (8 ounces) low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 can (6 ounces) unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey (optional)
  • 1-½ cups ice cubes (about 16 cubes)

Directions

  1. In the container of an electric blender, place blueberries, yogurt, milk, pineapple juice and honey
  2. Blend until smooth
  3. Add ice cubes, a few at a time, whirl until finely crushed
  4. Serve immediately

Recipe retrieved from: http://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-recipe/blue-wave-smoothie/

Information retrieved from: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2011/agr/A15-11509-2011-eng.pdf

Janel Genge is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador

Fruit Pizza Minis

Finding healthy snacks that children will go crazy for isn’t always an easy task. Snacks are a great way to get a variety of fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods into your child’s diet. However, fruit and veggies with dip can get boring day after day, as can cheese and crackers. Brighten up snack time by serving these delicious fruit pizzas to your child and their friends….they can even help make it!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (if you use plain you may want to add a sweetener such as honey)
  • 1/2 tsp vanillamini.fruit.pizza
  • 2 tsp orange or lime juice
  • Tortillas
  • Seasonal Fruit

Directions

Combine the yogurt, vanilla and orange/lime juice in a bowl and whisk until well blended.  Spread over tortillas – you can make the tortillas small by using a circular cookie cutter or the lid of a mason jar. Place a variety of fruit in bowls and allow the children to top with their favorites.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.superhealthykids.com/blog-posts/healthy-fruit-pizza-minis.php

Janel Genge is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador

Serve Up Some Fish

Summer is a great time to get the freshest fish around. Whether it be some delicious Atlantic salmon, fresh cod, muscles, shrimp or scallops just brought ashore by the local fishermen…the smell of fish in the air is wonderful for some. The fishery is one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s greatest natural resources so why not take advantage of everything it offers.

Fish can be expensive at times, but when in season you can usually get it at a great price. Fish is a great source of protein, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, that you hear of so often, and other essential nutrients. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that we get at least two protein servings a week from some source of fish.  Fish, unfortunately, is one of the foods that many children will not try or claim not to like. With summer time offering some of the freshest fish around and availability at our fingertips, it’s a great time to experience different fish dishes with your child. Take your child on a little fishing adventure. If your child helps catch the fish they are more likely to try it – I know I am! More often than not your child might be put off by the look of the fish rather than the taste. Instead of the traditional fried fish, try serving up fish in some different and appealing ways:

  • Grill: most children love anything on the grill. Barbeque some fresh Atlantic salmon or another fish of your choice. If you decide on salmon, you could try plank salmon – add some rice and vegetables to the dish…So delicious!
  • Bake or Broil: baking fish in the oven means you can add different ingredients and spices, making it more colourful and eye appealing…get your child to choose the additions!
  • Boil: If your child is a picky eater, try serving the fish plain, without adding anything, it may be just what they’ll like – I’ve heard many times “nothing like the taste of a fresh fish boiled”…Try it!

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The next time you cook fish, think ahead about what your child might like and serve it that way. The internet is a great resource for recipes, there are so many to choose from – my favorite is grilled salmon stuffed with rice and veggies…yum!

Janel Genge is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador

Just Add a Touch of “Berry”

Tis’ the season to head out and pick your own berries…better known as “U-Pick”! While some U-Pick berry farms are finished for the season, others are still in full bloom. For instance, strawberries can still be picked in many places across the province. Below are some ways you can add a little flavor to your food with your fresh berries.

  • Add to your cereal in the morning
  • Make a delicious smoothie
  • You can add them to your toast (great addition to your peanut butter toast…yum!)
  • Top your yogurt
  • Sprinkle over your salad for some extra summer flavor goodness
  • Berries can also be a great ingredient for some main dishes, like sandwiches
  • Lastly, what better way to use your fresh berries than in a delicious healthy dessert!

Check out this delicious sandwich that you can add some of your freshly picked strawberries to:

Strawberry-Turkey-Brie Panini

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-oz.) Brie round OR cheese of choice
  • 8 slices of whole grain Panini bread
  • Turkey (OR chicken if you prefer)..always best to use non processed meats
  • 8 fresh basil leaves OR fresh greens of your choice
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 tbsp red pepper jelly
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • Garnish: strawberry halves

Directions

If using brie cheese, trim and discard rind. Cut Brie into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Layer 4 bread slices evenly with turkey (or chicken), basil leaves (or greens of choice), strawberries, and Brie (or cheese of choice).Spread 1 1/2 tsp. pepper jelly on 1 side of each of remaining 4 bread slices; place bread slices, jelly sides down, on top of Brie. Brush sandwiches with melted butter. Cook sandwiches in a preheated panini press 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown (if available). Can also cook over stove on a grill pan (2-3 mins on each side) or grill in oven until done. Garnish, if desired.

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Recipe adapted from: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/strawberry-turkey-brie-panini-10000001886350/print/

Janel Genge is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador

Quick Home Cooked Meals When Camping

So far, it’s been an absolutely beautiful summer! Many of you are enjoying the camping season and taking the time to relax and forget about the busy life you left behind at home. To maintain healthy habits while camping and away from home can be difficult to do, especially since it’s your time to relax! With such warm weather, limited cooking utensils and space, preparing a large homemade meal is the last thing you want to do while you’re away. There are many quick healthier recipe options, than the traditional camping meals, that will go perfectly with your weekend at the campground.

Some “must have” items on your grocery list that you can use with almost any meal are:

  • Peppers, onions, mushrooms
  • At least one type of whole grain pasta noodle
  • Milk and cheese
  • Tomatoes and lettuce/mixed greens
  • Proteins: chicken, ground meat, etc
  • Spices of your choice (garlic, oregano, thyme, etc)
  • Other items for the below recipe (flatbread buns, beans, sour cream and anything additional you like to add to these recipes)

Some healthy meals suggestions while camping

Homemade Burgers: Prepare burgers with lean ground meat. Mix chopped onions and peppers in the homemade paddy, along with some spices. BBQ and add to a whole grain flatbread bun, top with shredded cheese, tomato and lettuce, and enjoy with a side of grilled veggies.

burger.peppers

Chili: If you want to enjoy something more of a “comfort food” type meal, try chili! I know the thought of chili seems like a lot of work while camping, but once you prep your veggies and cook your ground meat….just add your tomatoes, beans, spices and whatever else you want to add. Let it simmer and cook over the outside stove or even the fire pit!

campfire.chili

Pasta: You can cook any type of pasta fairly quickly. If you have an oven available when camping it can be even easier as you can just bake your pasta dish. Prep some veggies of choice, add it to your cooked pasta noodles, make a homemade sauce (to decrease sodium); you can make a white sauce with some milk, sour cream and spices or you could make a tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes (or canned with no sodium added) and a low fat cream with some added spices. Mix everything together and top with some shredded cheese and put in oven. If you don’t have an oven available just simmer over the stove until cooked just the way you like it!

pasta.campfire

You can also whip up a nice garden salad to go along with any of your meals using the ingredients above.

Janel Genge is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador