What are whole grains?

In nature, grains grow as whole grains.  Whole grains are the entire seed of the plant, which includes the bran, endosperm and germ.

The bran is the outer protective layer of the grain.  It contains fibre, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

The endosperm is the seed found under the bran layer.  It contains carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

The germ is found within the seed.  It contains vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

Research has shown that eating whole grains can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

There are many different types of whole grains. Some include:

  • Whole grain wheat
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Hulled or pot barley
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Whole grain rye
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth

When whole grain wheat is made into refined white flour the bran and germ are removed, which means fibre, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fibre are removed.  By law, in Canada, all refined white flour is enriched with Thiamine (vitamin B1), Riboflavin (vitamin B2), Niacin (vitamin B3), Folic Acid and Iron.  Canada has recognized that refined white flour is widely used and regularly consumed by most of the population and so saw an opportunity to prevent deficiencies of these nutrients by adding them to the refined white flour.  Not all nutrients removed during the making of white flour is replaced.  Therefore, whole wheat flour still provides more nutrition and more health benefits than does refined white flour.

Photo sourced from Healthy Grains Institute. For further information visit the Healthy Grains Institute at  healthygrains.ca.


Kefir vs Yogurt

Whether it is in a bottle, tube, cup, or your favorite smoothie, yogurt is a very common healthy breakfast food. As a good source of calcium and protein, it is great for bone health.  An essential part of yogurt making is the addition of good bacteria that breaks down sugar in milk to other substances.  This is called fermentation.  Naturally, your stomach and intestines have healthy bacteria, and the good bacteria in yogurt helps to keep your stomach and intestines healthy.

You may have seen a similar food item on the store shelf next to yogurt called kefir.  Like yogurt, kefir is made by fermenting milk, but in a slightly different way.  Kefir is made by fermenting milk with a group of yeast and bacteria known as kefir grains.  Both plain yogurt and kefir have a tart taste, but kefir is not as thick as yogurt, so it is most often consumed as a drink.  Kefir has a larger number of different types of bacteria than yogurt and may provide more health benefits for your stomach and intestines.

If you are looking to add a little variety to your morning breakfast routine, try this kefir inspired overnight oats recipe.

Overnight Oats with Kefir, Berries, and Toasted Coconut


  • 1 1/3 cups plain kefir
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted


Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight; stir. Divide oat mixture between 2 bowls. Top servings evenly with berries and coconut.

Recipe and photo sourced from My Recipes.  For more recipe ideas visit www.myrecipes.com.

Make Valentines Day a Healthy Red Breakfast Day

Valentines Day will soon be here.  As we plan to decorate our classrooms, offices and homes in red, why not think about all the healthy red food we can eat for breakfast or snack.  Red fruit and vegetables are packed with powerful antioxidants, such as lycopene and anthocyanin.  These antioxidants are not only good for helping give food their red color, but they are also good for helping keep your heart healthy. I can’t think of a better reason to eat red on Valentines Day.

Healthy Red Breakfast Day Tray


  • Red apples
  • Cherries
  • Dried Goji Berries
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Red Peppers
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Watermelon or Red Grapefruit
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Red Grapes
  • Strawberries

Recipe sourced from Super Healthy Kids.  For more fun food ideas visit www.superhealthykids.com.

Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Bowl

Smoothies are a quick and healthy breakfast that many of us drink.  However, smoothies don’t always have to be put in a cup.  You can change things up by putting smoothies in a bowl and adding additional toppings, like granola, dried berries and seeds.  This not only adds additional flavour but more energy, fibre, vitamins, and minerals as well.  The possibilities are endless.  Here is a kid created smoothie bowl recipe that might get you thinking more about using a spoon, rather than a straw, to sip your healthy breakfast smoothie.

Mango Banana Smoothie Bowl


  • 2 cups frozen mango chunks
  • 2 cups plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 Tbsp honey


  • 1 cup granola
  • ¼ cup each of unsweetened coconut, dried cranberries and seeds (such as pumpkin or sunflower)
  • 1 Tsp ground cinnamon


  1. In a blender, combine mango, yogurt, banana, and honey.  Blend until smooth.
  2. Divide among 4 bowls and top with granola, coconut, cranberries and seeds. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

This recipe has been used with permission from Dietitians of Canada.  Get easy to understand information on food, healthy eating and disease prevention along with award-winning recipes at www.unlockfood.ca.

Food Safety After a Power Outage

In recent weeks, many of us here in Newfoundland and Labrador have experienced unplanned power outages due to inclement weather. After an unplanned power outage, the biggest food safety concern is with the food that is stored in your refrigerator and freezer.  Here are some general guidelines to help you determine what food can be kept and what can be thrown out.

Refrigerated Food in Power Outage:

  • An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours.
  • Discard food that has been above 4°C for more than 2 hours.

Frozen Food in Power Outage:

  • An unopened full freezer will keep food frozen for about 48 hours.
  • An unopened half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about 24 hours.
  • Discard thawed food that has been above 4°C for more than 2 hours.

It is easier to determine just how long a refrigerator or freezer was without power if you were present when the power outage occurred.  It is a little more difficult to determine just how long a refrigerator or freezer was without power if you were not present during the power outage.  Even if the duration of the power outage is known, there is no certainty that the refrigerator or freezer started up again as soon as the power came back on, unless someone was present to check.   It is also important to remember that, although some spoiled food may look and smell bad, not all spoiled food look and smell bad.  So, the biggest food safety advice is simple.  When is doubt, throw it out!

For further food safety information in emergency situations, please visit the Government of Canada’s Canadian Food Inspection Agency website at www.inspection.gc.ca.

Image sourced from free Clipart.

Another Healthy Breakfast for Children (and Adults) on the Run

There are children and adults who enjoy getting up early to ease into the day, healthy breakfast included.  However, many children and adults I know spend whatever time they have in the morning rushing to get out the door, healthy breakfast optional.  This recipe helps ensure that a healthy breakfast will fit into busy mornings.  These simple, nutrition-packed, bite-sized delights are perfect for little hands to manage. As for the adults, you may be able to manage a few more.  Enjoy!

Frozen Yogurt Granola Berry Bites


  • 1/2 cup granola
  • 1/2 cup berries of your choice, diced
  • 3/4 cup yogurt


  1. In a mini muffin pan, layer just over half of the granola. Divide berries evenly on top of the granola. Spoon a tablespoon of yogurt into each cup. Tap the muffin pan on the counter a few times to remove air pockets. Sprinkle remaining granola on top. Cover and freeze for at least 3 hours.
  2. Before serving, place bottom of pan in warm water for a few seconds. Use a plastic knife to pop out the yogurt bites. Serve within a few minutes, or place in ziplock bags and return to freezer.

This recipe has been sourced from I Heart Nap Time.  For more recipe ideas visit www.iheartnaptime.net

KES Clubs are in 90% of schools in our province. If your school does not have a KES Club please contact our office at 1-877-722-1996 or email info@kidseatsmart.ca.

How to Fuel Your Busy Mornings

Happy New Year!  As your year gets off to a new start, I hope your busy mornings start off with a great breakfast.  Here is a kid-created energy bar recipe that can really help fuel you in the morning.  It is packed with fruit and flavor that kids and adults are sure to enjoy.  These energy bars can be made in advance and frozen, which is great for busy mornings at home or your Kids Eat Smart Breakfast Club.

Isaac’s Fruity Spice Energy Bars

Ingredients (makes 32 small bars or 16 large):

  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 2 cups dried apricots
  • 1 cup large flake oats
  • ⅔ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup


  1. In a large bowl, soak dates in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Place soaked dates, apricots, oats, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and cloves in food processor and pulse until broken up and starting to combine. Drizzle in maple syrup and blend until incorporated and there are still some chunks in the mixture.
  3. Line an 8 inch (20 cm) square pan with parchment or wax paper. Scrape date mixture into pan and using damp spatula press down mixture into pan to even out. Freeze for at least 4 hours or until solid. Cut into 32 small bars or 16 large bars and wrap each bar in plastic wrap and place in resealable bag or container. Store in freezer.

This recipe has been sourced from Kid Food Nation.  For more recipe ideas visit https://kidfoodnation.ytv.com

At Kids Eat Smart, we support the education, health, and well-being of school age children in Newfoundland and Labrador through nutrition programs, primarily through a breakfast club, run by volunteers at schools and community centres. Click here to learn more about us. 

How do you get children to eat their veggies?

As the mother of two elementary school children, and a Registered Dietitian, I am both baffled and mortified that both my children will not (knowingly) eat their veggies.  Yes, I am known to puree spinach and add it to lasagne or hide cauliflower in mashed potatoes. “Whatever it takes”, I say.  The spinach salad still goes on the table, and as I take a big delicious bite, I rave about how great it tastes, in hopes that one day they will say “Can I have some too please, Mom”.  I am still waiting.

So, what do you need for children to eat their veggies?  Patience!  Research has shown that it may take introducing the same vegetable up to 10 different times (or more) before a child will even try it.  Parents/caregivers are amazing role models, and if you eat your veggies your children will likely eat them too.  Introduce veggies with other foods your children are already familiar with in order to increase your success.  Having children help prepare veggies for snacks and meals will also increase the chances that they will eat veggies (see previous blog “Kids and the Kitchen”).  Last week, as I was preparing a beef pie, I had my daughter cut zucchini and shred carrot.  She then wrapped it in phyllo pastry I had left-over, and I baked it in the oven.  To my very pleasant surprise, my little chef ate her creation and liked it. There is hope!  No, she did not like my beef pie.

I hope your little chef will be inspired to eat veggies with this Easy Cucumber Christmas Tree recipe.

Easy Cucumber Christmas Tree

Ingredients (makes 8): 

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 whole cucumber


Peel the carrot, discarding the top and bottom.

From the thicker end of the carrot, cut 8 rounds, around 1/2 cm thick.

Using a mini star-shaped cutter, cut a star from each piece of carrot.

Divide and cut the remaining piece of carrot into 8 pieces, which will form the trunks of your cucumber trees.

Set the carrot stars and pieces to one side.

Using a vegetable peeler, cut long strips from the cucumber, the whole length long.

Starting at the smallest end, carefully fold a strip of cucumber back and forth, starting with small folds and getting gradually bigger with each one, until you have created a tree shape.

Push the folds together and push a cocktail stick through to skewer them from top to bottom.

Slide the cocktail stick into one of the carrot pieces, big fold side down.

Stick a carrot star onto the other end of the cocktail stick.

Carefully separate the folds a little so that the cucumber fills the space between the two carrot pieces.

Stand your edible Christmas tree on a plate or serving tray and repeat until you have made as many cucumber trees as you need.

Serve immediately.

This recipe has been sourced from Eats Amazing: Fun food for kids.  For more fun recipe ideas visit  www.eatsamazing.co.uk.

Our Kids Eat Smart breakfast clubs depend on the kindness of people who keep cupboards stocked and our children’s bellies full. All children deserve to reach their full potential and your monthly donation will help us give children a healthy start to their day so they can learn and be their very best. Learn more about ways to give.


Kids in the Kitchen

The new Canada’s Food Guide was released this year. Unlike the previous food guide, the new food guide highlights the importance of how we think about food because “healthy eating is more than the food you eat”.  Healthy eating is also about why we eat and how we eat.  And the best way to enjoy what we eat is by surrounding ourselves with friends and family which is why we should include kids in the kitchen.

With the Christmas holidays just around the corner there will be many feasts with friends and family. Kitchens every where will be busy preparing special meals and baked goods.  And whether it is our home kitchen or our Kids Eat Smart kitchen that is buzzing with excitement, there is sure to be little chefs eager to help. So, roll up their sleeves, wash their hands, and let them dive in because there is no better way to teach children about healthy eating than to have them help in the kitchen.  It will also help them build their self-confidence, learn about cultural and family traditions, and explore new foods and flavours.

Here is a kid-created oatmeal cookie recipe that is a healthier alternative to many of the traditional oatmeal or chocolate chip cookie recipes that are out there.  It also has hints of Christmas spice; a taste of things to come.

Soft Oatmeal Raisin Delights


1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cloves

½ cup softened butter

⅓ cup packed light brown sugar

1 Large egg

2 tbsp fancy molasses

1 ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 ¾ quick cooking oats

1 cup raisins

¾ cup toasted sliced almonds (optional)

1 ½ tsp vanilla


  1. In bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Beat in egg and molasses until combined.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and applesauce into the butter mixture (add 3 parts flour and then 2 parts applesauce).
  5. Stir in oats, raisins, almonds, if using and vanilla.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls (15 mL) onto baking sheet.
  7. Bake in 375°F (190°C) oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch.

This recipe has been used with permission from Dietitians of Canada.  Get easy to understand information on food, healthy eating and disease prevention along with award-winning recipes at www.unlockfood.ca.

The new Canada’s Food Guide can be found at https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/.

We offer resources and information on our KES Clubs page – check it out!


Hello Sunshine!

Sometimes all we need is a fun summer shape to get kids excited about eating a healthy snack.  If we have lots of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand the possibilities are endless.  You can make whatever comes to mind and even get the kids creative minds to help make them.  The more colorful the plate the better.  When we ensure our kids are getting a variety of fruits and veggies each day we are providing them with so many essential vitamins and minerals that they need to grow.  Try a fun plate like this one today:

Hello Sunshine Snack


  • Yellow pepper
  • Red pepper
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Orange


  1. Cut peppers, celery and carrots in slivers to allow for letter shapes
  2. Slice kiwi for the letter O
  3. Cut pineapple in slivers for the rays of sun
  4. Slice orange for sun
  5. Place together as picture below and serve!

Image sourced from:  https://canadianfamily.ca/food/cute-snack-idea-hello-sunshine/

Kristin Hedges is a Registered Dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation NL.