Kicking the Sugar Habit After the Holidays

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After all the Christmas goodies, it is hard to get back into a schedule of healthy eating. Our bodies may be so attuned to eating foods with a high sugar content that the craving for sugar continues.

Just as with any other addiction, sugar craving needs to be controlled. This includes cutting out artificially sweetened foods as well. Getting the sugar habit under control is especially important for children for health reasons as well as weight control.

How can parents help their kids get off the sugar train?

  • First of all, those desserts and holiday candies need to be out of the house by now. As the expression goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Stock your cabinets and refrigerator with fruits and vegetables instead of chips, cookies, and candies. Yes, fruits are a source of sugar but they also provide vitamins necessary for good health.
  • Start your kids off with a good breakfast. By this, I don’t mean a bagel or bran muffin, but foods more nutritious such as a vegetable omelet, some oatmeal with chopped almonds, and fresh fruit.
  • If you are the chief meal planner and one who prepares the meals, eliminate sugars and any sugar derivatives (honey, molasses, corn syrup, high fructose syrup and the like) from the menu. Plan  meals in advance, shop intentionally, based on what you need, and prepare the meals at a set time.
  • Pack the meals with plant-based foods from the vegetable group, the fruit group, small amount of grains, beans and legumes, and high-quality protein sources from animal or plant protein sources such as seafood, poultry and lean meats.
  • Set a good example by not eating foods with sugar. This means eliminating any “diet” soft drinks and other processed, sugary foods as well.
  • Take your kids shopping and ask them to help you make dinner or prepare their school lunch. Praise them for their good choices.
  • Have pitchers of water handy so your kids can drink this anytime. Kids should drink water rather than any soda or other sweetened drink.
  • One of the biggest helps is for parents to teach kids the value of staying active and exercising. When they are playing baseball, hiking or biking they are not as apt to want a piece of cake. Then, have some healthy snacks when they are through, such as nuts or peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread, carrot sticks, etc.
  • Your child may be tempted to eat sweets, just as you, perhaps, are tempted. Try to get past the temptation by focusing on another activity. Perhaps on some hobby you have, or a pleasant experience you had.

Some like to use visualization when this happens. They imagine and visualize how much healthier they will be without the sugar, or they will see a firm, slender body if they don’t indulge. Sometimes it helps to just tell our body what we need and what we don’t need.

To your success,

Lee Jackson

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5 Holiday Food and Fun Ideas for Children

Help create happy memories for children by involving them in holiday activities.

Here are 5 ideas from Amy Houts’ book, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids: Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun, that can be the start of fun family traditions.

1. Memories and baking cookies are a big part of the holiday season. Get friends together and have a cookie baking or exchange party.

2. Children can help create simple holiday gifts from the kitchen, such as Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar, Holiday Spice Mix, and Hearty Soup Mix.

3. As a way to recall the many blessings received during the year, place five or more kernels of candy corn in a zip lock bag and give to each child. Decide together what blessing each kernel symbolizes.

4. Check out a cookbook from the library with recipes typical of those used by your ancestors. Make a traditional cookie or bread recipe from that country.

5. Take time to remember the birds. A gift for them, or to a bird lover, could be a pinecone bird feeder you and your child create. Don’t forget to give the birds water, too.

Journalists, newsletter publishers, bloggers and others: You may reprint this blog or any of the blogs as long as you include the website: http://www.cookingandkids.com/blog.

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Why Kids Love “The Littlest Christmas Kitten”

Another grandmother told me she read this Christmas story, The Littlest Christmas Kitten, with her two little grandchildren, as they do every year. She said they never get tired of hearing it.

I think it has become a popular Christmas story because the bold pictures grab kids attention and the story keeps them guessing. Why are all the animals excited this night? Will the Mother Cat find her little lost kitten?

This is a short 32-page story about the night Jesus was born. The events of the night have a profound effect on all the animals, especially the cats. Included is an illustrated glossary of Christmas symbols, describing their origins. For example, why do we have candy canes at this holiday? How did the tradition of having a decorated tree get started? Why do cats purr at Christmas?

Order this book now, as there are only a few days left before Christmas. Click this link now to order your book with free shipping. Start your own Christmas reading tradition with this book.

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Baking with Kids – Fun Cookie Recipe

Candy Cane Cookies

Image by janielianne via Flickr

Cooking with kids can be fun and create memories for years to come. Remember when the kids kept snatching cookie dough from the refrigerator? You finally had to put a toothpick in the dough with a note that said to not even think about eating it.

Here is a cookie recipe that will be tempting, either in the dough form (which they shouldn’t eat) and in the baked form (which will be hard to resist).

This recipe lists red food coloring as an ingredient. You may want to avoid using artificial food coloring by using natural products. You can  purée or juice a beet to get a very effective red dye. Mix a drop of this juice into the dough to make it pink or add a little more for red. Just keep your fingers protected unless you want red fingers for the next few days. You can also use a little pomegranate juice.

This cookie recipe comes from the childrens cookbook, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids – Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun by Amy Houts.

Holiday Candy Cane Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
1/4 crushed peppermint candy
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Children can help measure butter, shortening, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and crack egg into large mixing bowl. Children can mix with large wooden spoon or adult can beat with electric mixer until well mixed.

Note: there is no baking powder in this recipe.
Stir in flour and salt. Divide dough in half. Add red food coloring (or alternative)  to one half of dough. Pinch off about a teaspoon of red dough. Children can shape into about a 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on lightly floured board or cloth. Repeat with plain dough. Set side-by-side and twist together. Place on ungreased baking sheet, curving one end down to form handle of cane.

Repeat process, placing candy canes about 2-inches apart on baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes, until very light brown. Meanwhile, mix peppermint candy and sugar. Sprinkle on cookies right when they come out of the oven. Then remove to cooling rack.

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

Happy baking!

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Get Kids in the Kitchen This Holiday

Old-Fashioned Christmas Butter Cookies

Image by Sifu Renka via Flickr

Are you saying, “but it takes too long to work with my kids in the kitchen”, or “it’s too messy when they help me”? In her book, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids: Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun, Amy Houts says that with a little planning and imagination, you can make holiday baking stress-free and enjoyable. The part children will remember is that they were able to “help” you in the kitchen.

Some points to remember when working with children:

  • Read through the recipe completely from top to bottom. Talk about the recipe. Explain what you will do and what the child will do. Know what needs to be done first, second, and so on.
  • Emphasize hand washing. Be a role model for your child. Practice food safety.
  • Collect all of the ingredients and tools that you need before you begin.
  • Measure everything carefully.
  • Clean up as you go.

Using this strategy, will help make cookie baking or any food work much more pleasant and enjoyable.

To your cooking enjoyment,

Lee Jackson, food writer

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Crock Pot Roast Beef & French Dip


With the busy holidays upon us, oven space may be at a premium. That is another good reason to use a crock pot. But best of all, I like to use the crock pot for meals that you can begin and forget.

Here is a wonderful recipe made by my good friend, author, and chef, Amy Houts. We had this for lunch recently when her mother from New York was visiting. She served it with relishes and chips and had apple cake for dessert –  another one of my favorites!

You can find this in Amy’s new cookbook, Cooking Around the Country with Kids – USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities on p. 206.

French Dip for Roast Beef Sandwiches

3 pounds beef chuck or arm roast
2 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
Dash pepper

12 hard rolls

Place roast in a crock pot. Children can help measure and add water, soy sauce, and spiceds to crock pot. Cook 5-6 hours on low heat setting or 3 hours on highs. Remove bay leaf from pot. Slice or shred beef and cool in refrigerator. Remove fat that has hardened on the surface of the dip. Heat again over stove or back in crock until hot. Place on hard rolls. Pour broth into individual serving dishes, about 1/4 cup per person. Dip sandwich into broth and enjoy!

Serves 10-12

Holiday Gift Idea – Childrens Books Provide Richer Understanding of the Events on that First Christmas.

(PRLEAP.COM) The childrens book, The Littlest Christmas Kitten, touches on themes dear to the hearts of children – the love and care of mothers and the birth of Baby Jesus. It is the story of how the lost is found amid a miracle on that First Christmas.

The story is woven around the Nativity and a mother cat searching for her little lost kitten. Before the night is over there is the crying of a baby and angels singing His praises. The night’s events leave a lasting effect on all the animals, especially the cats.

A listing of Christmas symbols at the end of the book gives the origin of the Christmas tree, candy cane, Advent wreath, Christmas cats, and many others. It also offers an explanation of why it is not a good idea to give a kitten as a Christmas gift. If cats are already a part of the family, there are suggestions on how to make sure they have a safe Christmas.

This 32 page hardcover book is appropriate for ages 2-10. Special topics include Baby Jesus, kittens, cats, animals, and a mother’s love.

The Littlest Christmas Kitten received a Midwest First Place Book Award in the Children’s Picture Books category of the Midwest Independent Publishers Association.

The author, Leona Novy Jackson is a former parenting teacher. She stresses the importance of having real books available for children and reading often with them.

Kelly Dupre’s bold illustrations lend a child-like primitive quality to the story. Her wood block prints enrich the text and add power and mystery to the story.

For more information, visit, http://www.ImagesUnlimitedPub.com and view a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WU2yNjTkt0w

Lee Jackson
Images Unlimited Books
660-582-4605

This social media release was distributed by prleap.com

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Christmas Book for Children

Here is a 40 second video about this popular Christmas book, The Littlest Christmas Kitten. Just click here.

Books can be autographed by author if ordered before  December 5 on this website:  http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com.

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Giving Thanks and Gratitude for Another Bountiful Year

The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

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Just as early Americans were thankful for surviving that first winter, let us also show thanks and gratitude for all we have received.

There seems to be more of an emphasis on Black Friday this season than on giving thanks for all the good things God has given us. Instead of wanting more and more “stuff”, let’s give thanks for all we have this Thanksgiving Day and everyday.

What are you thankful for? Family, friends? Warm home? Food? Clothes? Good health? Talents? Abilities? Connections? Sky, moon, stars? Trees, flowers, grass, sun?

Give thanks to God the Lord; upon His Name now call.
Make known among the people on earth what He has done for all.
Sing praise to Him, now sing; His wondrous acts proclaim.
Rejoice, all you who seek the Lord; come glory in His Name.

Lyrics by Susan H. Peterson

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Best to you and your family,

Lee Jackson
Food and family living author

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Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving Day With Your Family

Photo showing some of the aspects of a traditi...

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In preparation for Thanksgiving, here are some tips to help you have a happy day with your family by guest Ivana Pejakovic .

Without a doubt Thanksgiving is a day that ought to be filled with hope, gratitude, and happiness. It is a time of togetherness and for appreciation of our family and friends. It is a day to be celebrated in joy and liveliness.

Although this day is great on its own, it is possible to enhance the day for your family. There are many things that can make your Thanksgiving holiday exceptional. Your kids watch and notice much of what you do. How you talk about your family, the attitude you have about this special day and life in general is all being recorded by your kids.

As such this article is intended for parents to examine how they are currently celebrating the day and to find tips that can enhance this experience with their family.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Begin with a thankful mindset: Start the day off with a happy and thankful attitude. You can ask all family members to write down one positive thing about each of the other family members they are grateful for. Decide to read these notes out loud when you are together at the dinner.

Cook together & eat together: Cooking and eating are important for human bonding. Sharing a meal with others is what makes the food even more enjoyable. This is an opportunity to share your daily experiences (the good and the bad) with those you love and those who love you the most. Thanksgiving Day, however, is a good time to share your gratitude with each other. When we share positive ideas with people we grow closer to them. Remember that food is more than just nutrition for the body and brain. It is nutrition for the mind and soul.

Celebrate the gift of life: Thanksgiving is the time to celebrate life, not only by saying “Thank You” but also by stepping out of the home to experience something fun (e.g., family sport game, hike, photography, picking wild flowers, appreciation of nature). Joy and happiness are the best vehicles to gratitude and a zest for life.

Build family connections: As adults, people recall many memories from their childhood years formed during family events. Many adults have great memories of “crazy Uncle George” or “eccentric Aunt Martha” which they speak about with their siblings and cousins. This is a good time to put aside any family disputes. Model good family relations to your children so they can grow up and value the relationships they have with their siblings and extended family.

Be thankful for your family: Much information exists on “How to survive the holidays with your family.” Nobody’s family is perfect and most of us have a family member that is difficult to get along with. Use Thanksgiving Day to remember all the positives about everyone and to recall all the positives they have done for you. Find a subtle way to tell everyone what you appreciate about this family member and watch his or her attitude change that night. This is a great opportunity to show your kids how family can connect.

Volunteer: Give some of your family’s time to a shelter or food bank. This is good for the kids and it is good for you. You will come home with a feeling of contribution, a greater gratitude for what you have, and with feelings of humility. This helps keep us all grounded, but it helps kids form a positive attitude about the life they were given, and it can show kids how their actions can make a difference in their community.

New and old tradition: Sometimes it’s just easier not to cook the traditional favourites or put up the decorations. But believe it or not, these little, seemingly unimportant traditions are what we crave and what we remember from our youth. Celebrate your yearly traditions and think about developing a new tradition that incorporates the uniqueness of your family! As a family unit, what is your strength and what are your interests (e.g., using arts and crafts, visually represent what each of you is thankful for)? Use your family’s uniqueness to establish a new yearly ritual.

Happy and Safe Thanksgiving to your family!

Ivana motivates teens and adults in their 20s to approach life with desire, confidence, and passion.

Ivana also works with the following cases:

* Low motivation

* Stress & time management

* Anger management

* Social skills

* And more…

Life coaching is the perfect gift for your teen or young adult. It provides your child with an early start at success!

Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA

ivana@lifecoachintoronto.com

http://www.lifecoachintoronto.com

Article Source:  Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving Day With Your Family

Article Source: Ezinearticles.com

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