Is There a Problem Eater or a Happy Eater in the House?

PinExt Is There a Problem Eater or a Happy Eater in the House?
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Image by ranahki via Flickr

You may know children who are picky eaters, or who refuse to try new foods, or even those who exhibit bad behavior at mealtime. As food patterns develop early, parents need to guide young children toward having good attitudes about food and mealtimes.

Here are hints for establishing good eating patterns in childhood.

Don’t force children to eat everything on their plates. Sometimes food helpings are larger than needed so don’t expect them to eat everything. Sometimes children do not feel like eating, just as happens to adults. Encourage the sampling of all food but children should not be made to sit at the table until everything is eaten. You can imagine the kind of feelings toward food this action represents.

Don’t scold or nag about poor eating habits. Yes, children need to know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behavior. But the constant talk and attention to “eat all your vegetables” or “sit up straight” raises the tension level at the table. Relax and enjoy the food and company.

Don’t reward or punish with food. We all know the dangers of “if you eat all your food you can have ice cream (or add any favorite food)”, or “if you’re good, you can have cake”.  Food, including cake or ice cream, should not be a bargaining tool. If it’s a planned part of the meal, it should be available for all. Those that use treats for good behavior or punishment are using food as a means of gaining control. Food is nourishment and should be considered as such, as well as for enjoyment.

Mealtime is an important part of the day. Sharing food with family and/or friends is one of the pleasures of life.  If children are included in family conversations and are given lots of positive attention at mealtime and other times, they won’t have to resort to undesirable behavior.

What are other ways you have tried to establish good eating habits for children?

Here’s to developing healthy eating habits,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
See our books on cooking with children and others:
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families and parenting professionals

 Is There a Problem Eater or a Happy Eater in the House?
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Healthy Tasty Treats Remind You of Mom’s Love

PinExt Healthy Tasty Treats Remind You of Moms Love
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Image by pamplemoussen via Flickr

We have a guest post today, especially for those of you with children “leaving the nest”. Read some of the recommendations given by Edina Jones, our guest blogger for today.

Are you wondering how your grown child will get along living on his or her own? He or she may be at college now or away working at a job. You remember how they depended on you; how they asked you for favors; how they could never do a thing without your help. You hope you have given them a good foundation and taught them basic skills, including how to cook. However, once your son or daughter leaves home, you start fretting about him/her.

Stop worrying! Instead, focus on how to convey your love to your young adult. You can email, phone, write a letter or send some photos. Do you know what they would really love? Yes, you are right, care packages full of their favorite foods! In addition, you can include healthy recipes in the packages.

Delightful goodie baskets

Here are a few ideas to try out.

Organic food basket
– Put together a selection of organic fruits that your child loves. Choose fruits like apples, pears, oranges, peaches, and others. Include dry fruits like cashews, strawberry flavored fruit preserves, whole-wheat crackers, tortilla chips, peanut butter, green tea, and other easily packable items. Who said health and taste didn’t go together? Your health conscious son/daughter is sure to love this gift.

Chocolate basket - Opt for an assortment of chocolates, dark chocolates, milk chocolates, cupcakes, or whatever he/she likes, to put in this basket. Add chocolate-coated almonds, raisins, walnuts, and chocolate cookies, chocolate dips, chocolate snack mixes, and others. It will be a welcome sweet treat for your son or daughter.

Pizza basket – Want your child to really be impressed? If they have a way to do some baking, send a collection of bread baking mixes for pizza making. Include some tomato basil sauce, smoked pepperoni, and spices like peppers, onions, and garlic and herbs to make a delicious pizza. A nice gift along this line would be to include a pizza stone and rack to make the baking process easier. Every time they bake a pizza, they will be reminded of home and, of course, mom’s special touch.

Seafood basket – Is your young adult a connoisseur of seafood? Student care packages filled with smoked salmon, mackerel, herring, mussels, oysters, etc. are sure to delight a seafood lover. You may also include tasty treats like clam or lobster chowder, oyster crackers, sauces, and many other related foods. Just make sure that the package will maintain the correct temperature for the safe eating of its contents.

Ice cream basket - Most young people love ice cream. The idea of this basket is to enhance the experience of enjoying a scoop. No, you are not going to send ice cream; as delivering it would be a difficult job. Add contents such as colorful sprinkles, cones of different flavors, chocolate or raspberry sauces, almonds, peanuts, cookie crumbles, banana chips, chocolate crunch, etc.

You can prepare the food baskets yourself. Or, you can choose one ready-made or order custom gift baskets. There are many companies online and in catalogs that deliver the type and kind of basket you specify at the appointed time.

Edina Jones is a self published author and food critic. She writes articles on many food themes such as Dessert Recipes, Picnic Recipes and similar topics. For more information on Healthy Recipes and Salad Recipes she recommends you visit:

 Healthy Tasty Treats Remind You of Moms Love
PinExt Healthy Tasty Treats Remind You of Moms Love

Helping Kids Make Good Food Choices

PinExt Helping Kids Make Good Food Choices

Parents should help children make good food choices. Food preferences in children are largely developed by age five. Therefore, it’s important that parents help their children develop a taste for nutritious food early.

Here are ways you can involve your children in making good food choices:

Talk to your children about the categories of foods that are most important. These would include: fruits and vegetables, meat or protein alternatives, breads and cereals, and milk.

Help them cut out pictures of foods from magazines or newspapers. Make sure they have foods from all the groups. When they find pictures of cookies and ice cream, ask whether those have a place in their “good food choice” list? You can tell them they are not “bad” but there are other foods that are better for growing strong bones and muscles.

Have children paste the foods on file cards or construction paper. You can use different colored paper for different food groups: green for the vegetable and fruits, white for the milk group, red for the meat and protein group, and blue for the bread and cereal.

Let children decide which foods from each group they would like to eat. This is a good way for them to see that choosing one food from each group works toward having a balanced meal.

Another card can be made up of “special treat” foods. These are foods eaten only once in a great while. This will probably include pictures of frozen yogurt, cookies, and other sweet and/or high fat foods such as French fries and potato chips.

Here is a recipe for a “special treat” food, granola, which can be a breakfast food with milk or eaten plain as a snack food. It has many ingredients that are very nutritious.


4 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using any salted nuts)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup

Extra suggestions – may be added when oat mixture has browned:
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup of any dried fruit such as raisins, cranberried, pineapple, cherries, etc.

Preheat over to 350 degree F.

In a large bowl, combine oats, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Melt butter in small saucepan or microwave, add honey or syrup. Pour this mixture over the oatmeal mixture until all is coated.

Spread this on a cookie sheet that has been lined with foil.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking and stirring often until flakes are light brown. Watch carefully as they can over-brown easily and the honey will burn and taste bitter. Go light, rather than dark.

When slightly cool, add any of the extras. Mix well. Store in airtight container. I like to use a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Then I place a scoop inside for easy access. Works well to store in a large glass canister, too. This looks inviting sitting on your cabinet. This granola has much more substance to it than many of the already-prepared products on the market. Enjoy.

Lee Jackson
Home and Family Living

P.S. Another issue of my newsletter is coming soon. Sign up and get entered in the drawing for a free cookbook to be given away.

 Helping Kids Make Good Food Choices
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What’s Your Favorite Festival and Fair Food?

PinExt Whats Your Favorite Festival and Fair Food?
300px Lane County Fair Whats Your Favorite Festival and Fair Food?

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People are lured to county and state fairs for all sorts of reasons – carnival rides, clowns, petting zoos, tractor pulls, and 4-H exhibits. Others come for the stunts, races, music, parades, and of course fair food!

There are community groups hosting food stands all over the fairgrounds. They offer a smorgasbord of fair treats, from brats and turkey legs to ice cream and root beer floats. Fair-goers can see and enjoy funnel cakes being made as well as cotton candy.

It is reported that the Iowa State Fair will have five new foods on a stick this year. “Fair Squares” will have squares of crispy rice cereal and marshmallows in plain or peanut butter flavor on a stick. An “Octodog”, will make its first appearance at the fair. It is a mini-sausage shaped like an octopus. Octodogs are not only fun, but may be a safer way to serve and eat hotdogs. The hotdog is among the top ten items found on many lists concerning choking occurrences in young children. This is especially true when the hotdog is cut crosswise. When they are cut the long way, or linear, they are less likely to cause choking in children.

Octodogs can be made at home. There are tools for cutting the hot dogs, but they can be hand sliced as well, cutting the dog up to about an inch from one end. The trick to getting good results is to briefly freeze the sausage for 20 minutes to firm things up before cutting. Using a cooking spray like Pam on the cutting blade and then boiling or frying briefly helps to fan out the hotdog creating the octopus effect. If you’re feeling super-ambitious, you can decorate octodogs with little eyes and mouths. Stick sesame or other seeds onto the head with a little honey, or use cream cheese or another sticky spread to affix little round cutouts of sliced cheese for the facial features.

Another food on a stick to be featured will be “Twinkie Logs”. These are frozen Twinkies dipped in white chocolate and rolled in nuts and dipped in white chocolate. Other new frozen confections will include tiramisu, turtle mousse and strawberry-cream flavored bars.

I can almost taste the chocolate, nuts, and caramel sauce in the turtle mousse. What’s a fair-goer to do?  Is this the one exception to eating healthy?  Where are the fruits and vegetables and other low-fat, low/no sugar foods? Only in the 4-H garden produce exhibit areas, I suppose.

What are your favorite foods when you go to the fair?

I’d love to hear your comments on how you handle festivals, children, and healthy foods.

Lee Jackson
Home and Family Living Coach

 Whats Your Favorite Festival and Fair Food?
PinExt Whats Your Favorite Festival and Fair Food?

Get Your Kids Off the Sugar Wagon

PinExt Get Your Kids Off the Sugar Wagon

Most parents will tell you they know when their child overdoses on candies, cookies, and sweetened sodas. Their once-lovable, mild-mannered child becomes that exasperating, rawdy, hyperactive brat.

Does sugar cause hyperactivity? There is still much debate over this, but those who live with, or work with children, will tell you that sugar has been the culprit.

Helping your child cut back, or eliminate, sugar can be one of the best things you can do for your child. This can help him or her do better in school, have more friends, possibly sleep better, and certainly be much more pleasant to be around.

But what is a parent to do?

  • Get rid of the sodas! If it’s not around, it will not be a temptation.
  • Get rid of the cookies, candies, and ice creams. Some people can cut down gradually. For others it needs to be “cold turkey”.
  • Set a good example. Cut back or eliminate your own consumption of sugar.
  • Reinforce good behavior. Remember to praise and reinforce your children for choosing wholesome, healthy foods over others.

But what will take its place, you ask?

Keep lots of fresh fruits and vegetables ready to eat.

Have water in pitchers handy. Tell them they need to stay “hydrated”. That sounds like what an athlete might say – it sounds better than saying, “drink lots of water”.

Encourage your children to get outside and exercise. Playing video games or watching TV doesn’t require much action. Help them create healthy habits from a young age.

 Get Your Kids Off the Sugar Wagon
PinExt Get Your Kids Off the Sugar Wagon

Dessert for Company

PinExt Dessert for Company

dessert2 Dessert for Company

This is the dessert I served for my women’s group yesterday. It was the day after my birthday – the reason for the flowers. I was happy to share flowers, and dessert, with company.

The recipe is very easy and young cooks will enjoy the crunching and rolling needed for making crumbs.

Oreo™ Ice Cream Dessert

24 Oreo™ cookies,crushed

1/2 stick butter, melted

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream

1 (15-ounce) can Eagle Brand™ condensed milk

1 stick butter 1 (8-ounce) can Hershey™ chocolate syrup

1 (8-ounce) carton whipped topping

Place 24 cookies into a plastic bag. Use a rolling pin or wooden masher to crush the cookies into rather fine crumbs. Place them in a 9×13-inch pan.

Melt 1/2 stick butter and pour this over the crushed cookies. Stir a little to distribute the butter throughout. Place in freezer for about 30 minutes.

Soften ice cream and place over the crumbs, smoothing the top. Return to freezer for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Combine the condensed milk, 1 stick butter, and chocolate syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a low boil and then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent it from burning at the bottom.

Pour sauce over hardened ice cream and pop back into freezer. Except the pan keeps getting heavier and heavier each time so handle with care. Freeze again for about 30 minutes.

Top with whipped topping and sprinkle a few of the crumbs from the bag over the top of the dessert. Cover with foil.

When you are ready to serve, take it out of the freezer for about 20 minutes before cutting and serving. You will have a very elegant dessert.

 Dessert for Company
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Summertime Flavors

PinExt Summertime Flavors
 Summertime Flavors
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What tastes best to you at this time of year: hot soup or cold salad? hot cocoa or cold lemonade? hot chili or ice cream?

Our tastes change with the seasons. The weather makes a big impact on what we think tastes good. When the weather turns warm or hot, we are more apt to reach for cold drinks and cold foods. Likewise, when it gets cooler in the fall, our thoughts turn to soups and hot meals.

Children and adults are often more thirsty than hungrey in the summertime. It is at times like these that vegetables served with a dip and cheese cubes, some chilled fruit in season, and a cold drink taste extra good.

Here is a refreshing cold drink for these warmer days. Plus, it uses strawberries which are now in season.

Strawberry Slush

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

Children can rinse and hull strawberries. Cut large ones in half and place in a container. Cover and freeze until firm.

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend for about 10 seconds. Pour into a glass and drink.

Makes 2-4 servings

This recipe is taken from Amy Houts’ cookbook, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids: Hoiday and Seasonal Food and Fun. You can buy your own copy of this cookbook at Amazon. Check it out!

 Summertime Flavors
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