New E-Book Resource for Parents and Preschool Teachers

Children love to cook and work with food. Help them sharpen their skills in math and science, nutrition, vocabulary and social skills, while enjoying what they are doing.

This resource for parents and preschool teachers will help use their skills in new and exciting ways. Have this ready when your children want to “work” in the kitchen.

Kids Cooking and Learning  Through  Food  Activities

The author, Amy Houts, shares lots of good ideas on helping preschoolers  learn through a variety of cooking activities. For many years she wrote a monthly Preschooler in the Kitchen column for Parent & preschooler Newsletter, an international parenting resource, and includes many of her best kid-tested techniques.

The activities are organized so that early childhood professionals can use them as part of their curriculum. Home-schooling parents will also benefit by using this guide with their children.

You can find it here on Amazon:

For only $4.99 you can have it immediately and use it tonight with your children.

Best to you,

Lee Jackson
Food and Nutrition Specialist

P.S. For more cooking and kids tips, see:

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End of the Week – Time to Plan Weekly Meals

Barcelona Spain automated grocery store 2006

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End of the week is a good time to plan meals and grocery shop. Some plan for two or more weeks at a time, saving to do the fresh produce buying periodically. The end of the week usually means grocery stores have specials on certain products. Just because some foods are on special doesn’t mean we necessarily want or need to buy them, only if the family will eat them and they really are a bargain.

Meal planning may not be the most pleasant task, but one that needs to get done. Someone has to do it. This job is really very easy, once you get into the habit of doing it.

First, check what you have available in the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboard. Look in the paper to see what is on special. Think about the events of the next week or so. Are there certain days when you need to plan for picnics, etc., or days you know you won’t have much time to prepare?

Then plan your menus. Take out a sheet of paper and plan what you will have for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and maybe snacks. Is breakfast the time for cereal, muffins, fruit? Maybe salad or sandwiches for lunch? What will the main dish be for dinner? And so on during the week, or two.

Yes, get those cookbooks out and get some suggestions on what you and your family might like. Think what foods are seasonal and do any of the store specials appeal to you? Mix in some favorites, and you’ll be well on your way to planning great meals in no time.

Now is the time to write out your grocery order. Perhaps you have already listed things on your list because you have run out of them. Now add to it. I like to write out my list according to the “path” I’ll take in the grocery store. For me, it’s the food and other products in the outer circle of the store, going down certain aisles where I need something. Then I leave the fresh and frozen foods until the end.

Having your meals planned is half the battle of “knowing what’s for dinner”. Now you can swing into action when you know what to prepare. I remember when the kids were home, I would post the menus on the refrigerator which helped everyone know what was on that evening. My hopes, too, were that someone would take the initiative to begin the meal!

More and more people are finding that planning meals helps them save money and have more peace of mind. They can check the menu, know they have all the ingredients, and prepare a healthy meal. And they don’t need to go to the drive-through because they didn’t know what to have for dinner.

To planning healthy meals —

Lee Jackson
Food and Nutrition Specialist

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For Your Viewing Pleasure

I would really like for you to visit my new page at

If you give it a “like” I will be forever grateful. I need to spread the word more and I would like you to help me. Will you do that?

Best to you,

Lee Jackson
Apples and cookbooks and kids

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How Jamie Oliver is Raising Health Awareness

Scandic and Jamie Oliver launch new meeting ex...

Image by Scandic Hotels via Flickr

Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution are on a mission. I invite you to read this article by  Everyday Health expert, Jillian Michaels as she finds out why he is so passionate about what he does.

Have you and your family changed any food habits because of watching his TV shows?  Do you still order chicken nuggets?

To your good health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food and Nutrition Advocate

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National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

Farmers market, Saint Paul, Minnesota

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Did you know June was National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? Isn’t that appropriate, with all the fresh produce you see at Farmers’ Markets and in stores? Have you had a chance to visit a Farmers’ Market this season? They are often open on Saturdays so hopefully you’ll have a chance to go this week-end and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food and Nutrition Consultant

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Apple Recipes by the Hundreds

Various apples

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Whether you have a bushel or a peck or only a pound, you will find over a hundred ways to use apples in this apple cookbook, From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers. Others have said: “Good to the Core“. The Mountain Airy News. “I purchased this book while in Georgia as a Thank You gift for a neighbor who took care of our plants while we were away. I should have purchased two, as it was hard for me to give it away after have read it, almost cover to cover. Where can I buy another?”  E.C., California.

You can get your autographed copy now when you order at

Lee Jackson,CFCS
Author of From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers
Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards

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Mark Bittman – Latest Take on McDonald’s Food

Oatmeal directly from the packing.

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There is a great article about McDonld’s latest offering – FMO (fruit and maple oatmeal) by Mark Bittman in the New York Times ‘Opinion page’. You can read it  here.

Be sure to click on the link describing how to make your own oatmeal. You’ll never know how many people eat oatmeal for breakfast – unbelievable.

Had my granola (made with oatmeal) and yogurt this morning…

Lee Jackson
Books for cooks and apple lovers, kids,
families and parenting professionals

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What are Mealtime Goals?

Children vary in their food needs and eating habits. Some children are very picky eaters, others go on various same-food binges. Then there are others who like and eat a little of everything. Everybody is different. That’s a good thing!

Parents often get overwhelmed, though, by the so-called problem eaters. This is a difficult time to get through. However, if they can learn to adjust to the individual differences without making an issue of eating, mealtimes will be much happier.

Here are a number of fundamental mealtime goals most parents want their children to meet.

First, they want them to eat a well-balanced meal. It is up to parents to see that their children have foods available from the different food groups – protein foods such as meat, fish, chicken, or eggs; fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals; milk and milk products for strong teeth and bones; and breads and cereals for energy to run, play, and learn.

To taste a little of everything and eat only from their plate. All the food may not be to their liking, but encourage them to taste a little of everything. By tasting a little and eating other foods they like, they should be well-nourished. Some children like to eat what’s on their parents or other children’s plate, or to dip into the serving bowls. Nibbling on someone else’s food should be discouraged. If they want another serving of the food, they can ask for it.

To enjoy mealtime. Hopefully this is a time when the family can eat together. Many studies show how valuable this is to all members of the family. It should be a time of sharing and “catching up” with the activities of each. If there are unpleasant topics, disagreements or criticisms to discuss, they need to be left for another time.

To stay at the table and use good table manners. This isn’t the time to jump up and down from their chair but to remain seated until excused. Having good table manners makes mealtime much more pleasant for everyone.

Mealtime is a good time to sit together, learn about the foods to eat, about table manners, and how to talk to one another. Mealtimes can be the highlight of the day but everyone needs to work on making this time enjoyable.

Enjoy your mealtimes,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Check out our children’s cookbooks here

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Healthy Eating Habits

dinner plate with flower

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Chef Crombie here to chime in on healthy eating habits:

There are hundreds of diets and different ways of eating right for good health. I want to tell you about a very simple way to help you meet your food needs. This way will help you eat the right foods in the right amounts for better health.

This method is called the Half-Plate Rule. You take a plate – a regular dinner size plate if you are a grown-up, or a smaller plate if you are younger.
Then you visually divide this plate in half.
You fill half of this plate with vegetables and/or fruit.
You fill 1/4 of this plate with lean meat or other protein food.
You fill the other 1/4 of plate with whole grains.
Young children can add milk.

There you have it. Simple. To the point. Easy.

Actually, I think the size of the plate makes a real difference in how much we eat, so even grown-ups may want to use  smaller plates.

Here’s to your good health.

Chef Crombie

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NEW Learning Through Cooking Activities E-Book (Early Childhood Fundamentals)

New Learning Through Cooking Activities e-book by Amy Houts is now available on Amazon. This guide helps parents and others who work with children use food to teach children important concepts. The activities in the book are organized so that early childhood teachers can use them as part of their curriculum.

There are many concepts that can be taught through cooking activities. These include math and science principles, cooperation and sharing, using all 5 senses to enjoy food experience, classifying colors, identifying shapes, teaching good nutrition concepts, and so much more.

Children love to cook and help in the kitchen. As parents, grandparents, and caregivers, we can make this time fun as well as a learning experience.

In this e-book, each cooking experience lists what the children are to learn, the ingredients and/or equipment needed, what preparation to do, discussion questions to involve children, and additional projects or related activities.

For example, if the object is to learn to observe and classify primary and secondary colors, children can use food to enhance this study and their sense of taste. You will need foods of different colors. (Suggested foods are given). Each day foods from a different color can be discussed and prepared. A related activity could be sorting colorful cereals or dry pasta of different colors.

For lessons on shapes and encouraging fine motor skills, foods with different shapes can be used. Children can use cookie cutters to cut shapes from cheese slices and bread, then match the cheese to the same shape of bread. Foods can be chosen for circles, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and orange slices; squares, such as crackers and cheese slices; foods that look like triangles such as pizza slices and pie wedges. After discussion, the food can be eaten at snack time.

To order this e-book, click here It will make a valuable resource for home and school.

Lee Jackson
Family and Lifestyle Coach

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