Three Uplifting Kid-Food Items To Share

Hi everyone!  I’m finally back from a blogging hiatus taken to celebrate — and then recover from — my daughter’s recent bat mitzvah.  Many thanks to all the TLT’ers who shared their good wishes and mazel tovs (mazels tov?) on the blog’s Facebook page.  It was a lovely, memorable event.

Due to that break and my less frequent posting schedule, I feel terribly behind in sharing so many items with you.  So in the next few weeks I’m going to play catch up, following up on some loose threads from recent discussions we’ve had, sharing some interesting past news items and also hosting the giveaway of a lovely new children’s book I meant to tell you about way back in December!

For today’s post, I’m sharing three uplifting and/or useful tidbits:

Is the Diet of American Children Improving?

Today’s New York Times reports on the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey which shows some potential good news when it comes to children’s diets nationwide.  The study indicates that children’s daily caloric consumption from the period 1999 to 2010 dropped modestly, by about 7 percent for boys, to 2,100 calories a day, and by 4 percent for girls, to 1,755 calories a day.  The shift is attributed to decreased carbohydrate consumption — likely specifically due to a decrease in sugar consumption.  While this is only a slight dip, it could be a sign that the current childhood obesity tide is turning.  Fingers crossed.

Expert Advice on Family Dinner

As a loyal subscriber to Bon Appetit, I was thrilled to see in this month’s issue an entire section devoted to weeknight family dinner, complete with recipes and time-saving tips.  Even better is the fact that the magazine is sharing the same information online in blog format, so you don’t need to be a print subscriber to access it.

It was validating to see that BA’s family dinner Rule #1 is a cherished maxim of mine as well, one I often share here on TLT:  that family dinner goes much more smoothly when meals are “customizable” to suit every diner’s tastes. (In our house, this idea often takes the form of a baked potato bar, a taco bar, make-your-own pizza or top-your–own chili.)  You’ll also find suggestions for grocery shopping, freezing and making several meals from one cooking session.  Who doesn’t love that?

TLT’ers Help Solve a Reader’s Snack Dilemma 

A short time ago I shared on TLT’s Facebook page a request from a reader.  She belongs to a large church and was unhappy about the junk food snacks served at Sunday school.  She waited until a healthy snack was served — apples and water — and used that positive development as a springboard to raise the issue with her church.  (I love that approach!)  In response, she was asked to come up with better snack ideas and TLT’ers came to the rescue with lots of advice, as well as the suggestion by several people, including the bloggers at  Real Mom Nutrition and Spoonfed, that, um, maybe these kids don’t even need a mid-morning snack.  (I couldn’t agree more.)

In a follow-up email to me, the reader reports what sounds like a very successful outcome:

Thanks again for posting that to your page! The responses were great!! I had a meeting with 2 of the children’s staff members last week. They already agree that something needs to change. The problem is that it’s 2 people in charge of buying for a few hundred kids. And the bible lessons they get come with “snack ideas” and they usually just do that because it’s easy. This week it was marshmallows and skittles filling up a cup. My suggestion was to use cotton balls and pennies or rocks and sand.

They asked if I’d want to be the “creative food director” or something along those lines. It’s something I can do from home so it’s perfect! They’re going to send me the lesson plans and I’ll come up with a snack or craft to go with it. As far as the tootsie rolls for bringing bibles or taking the stairs.. we decided to have a punch card type thing. The kids will get a card that they have to fill up with stickers. Once they get x amount, they can pick from the treasure chest.

There is a budget for snacks that’s really not that big. They said we could do whole fruit once a month. As long as I’m willing to help them find it. I belong to an organic co-op in town and know the farmers so I can definitely make it happen. The other 3 weeks they will do a cracker/pretzel but I’m going to give them a list of the most affordable with the least amount of junk in the bags.

I also copied some of the responses that you at Real Mom Nutrition got on your pages. They loved hearing from moms around the country about what they think. My conclusion was that nursery- pre k should have a snack, older than that can go without for 4 hours. IF they’re going to be offered a snack, it should at least be crackers if it can’t be fruit. And sugar should never be offered (unless it’s birthday cake or some celebration a few times a year). They definitely agreed! Thanks so much for your help! I know it will take a few weeks to get things rolling there, but I’ll keep you posted.

I love happy endings like this one, and nothing is more inspiring to me than when the TLT community bands together and helps someone out.  Thank you for sharing your ideas and if you have your own kid/food dilemma you’d like me to “crowdsource,” just email me using the Contact tab above or via Facebook.

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  1. says

    I completely disagree with the idea that everyone gets something ‘different’ or something they like at every meal. Don’t we have enough children who feel entitled.

    They should be glad to eat a home cooked meal everyday. I think they eat what’s there or wait until the next meal comes around. This can so quickly devolve into the belief that mom (or dad) is a short order cook – and the kitchen is a restaurant.

    And how else do they learn to appreciate different tastes and textures. Horseradish is good.

    • Bettina Elias Siegel says

      Sylvie: You misunderstand me, I think. If you followed the link you’d see that my endorsement of the “customizable” meal is actually contained in a post that rails against short order cooking! I do not believe kids should get a different meal from adults, for all of the reasons articulated in that post. But I have no problem if I serve fish tacos and one kid makes a taco with fish, guacamole and shredded cabbage, while another makes a taco of cheese, beans and guacamole. We’re all sitting down to the same meal, which I think is critically important, but each can suit their own tastes in a nutritious way. This is not to say I cook this way every night. I often make casseroles, soups and other one-dish meals and then the approach is, “This is dinner, I hope you enjoy it.”

  2. stef says

    sounds like a win! I love the craft ideas that could slide into the lesson plan so easily.

    Everyone can participate safely in a craft without adding to food issues and obesity.

    Great ideas! Kudos for making it happen.

  3. Sylvie says

    I just asked my DH about this after sending him the link this morning. He thought it was a good idea until I asked him who was doing all that prep work. Then, silence. My LO would only have rice or naked pasta if allowed to assemble his own meals. I like the idea of everyone having the same thing. But this is probably why my son still doesn’t get the idea of restaurants.

    • Bettina Elias Siegel says

      I hear you! And whatever is working for your family is clearly the right thing to do. But for the record, there’s not always a lot of prep in this sort of meal. For the fish tacos, e.g., I use shredded cheese, shredded cabbage from Whole Foods (if I’m too lazy to shred my own in the food processor), jarred salsa, etc., and mashing some avocados with lime is no big deal. But for the top-your-own pizza, yes, I’ll admit that IS a lot of prep work as I saute all the different kinds of veggies first. Maybe that’s why I don’t do that one very often!

  4. monique says

    I agree that we shouldn’t short-order cook for our kids. One thing I try to do to please everyone (I have five children ages 4 to 14 with varied tastes, and I can’t nor should I keep track of their dislikes) is when I make something that is new or I know won’t get a great reaction, I make a side dish or two that I know they love or can fill up on, whether it’s breadsticks or potatoes or even a bottle of home-canned fruit. Something I try occasionally is make 3 or 4 veggies in one meal and ask them to pick one and they usually oblige more easily than I thought.

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