Bullying … or Kids Being Kids?

Sandra Bullock told the Huffington Post on bullying that when she would return to school from Europe, she looked like a clown compared to the cool way the other students looked and dressed. 

“So I got my ass whooped a little bit … Kids are mean, and the sad thing is that I can still remember the first and last names of every one of those kids who were mean to me!”

With a third grader in our family now, listening to the playground stories and peer divides can be tough. But how do you know if it’s just girls being girls or an actual bullying situation that you need to help resolve?

According to bullying expert Sherri Gordon, conflict is an important part of growing up but bullying is not. Conflict teaches kids how to give and take, how to come to an agreement and how to solve problems. But bullying only wounds kids.

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Gordon writes that the best way to identify bullying is to realize that it is a deliberate act with the intention to hurt, insult or threaten another person.

Let’s face it, kids can be mean — even in elementary school. But the bully is not just the shover in the bathroom or the kid who threatens a beating after school. Yes, boys are more inclined to bully through intimidation and physical means, but girls tend to fire with rumors, whispers, exclusion and the silent treatment. Things that may seem to come with the territory of grade school, but can make attending school torture for your kid, or worse, lead to health and emotional issues down the road. Like Bullock said, kids don’t forget.

bullying(1)Problem is, you may never hear about it. Your child may keep it to herself out of fear or shame.

So what is there to do?

• Talk to your child at the end of each day, and find out what’s happening in her social circle.
• If your child does hint at bullying, try to find out specifics, and talk to her teacher and the principal. Ask them to have other staff be on the lookout for any incidents.
• Encourage your child to tell an adult when she has an issue, and assure her that reporting an incident is not the same as tattling.
• Suggest she find a trusted buddy she can stick with at recess, lunch or on the bus so she’s less likely to be targeted than when she’s alone.
• If you notice sudden or increasing stomachaches, headaches, missed days of school, lower grades, eating issues or signs of depression, you may want to schedule a visit with the school counselor.

 

Easy School Lunch Ideas for the Last-Minute Mom

Summer’s not even over but it’s back to school for us, along with the dreaded morning wake-up call … time to make the lunches! And the same questions every year … What to pack? What will they actually eat? How early do I have to wake up to get it all done? I figure if I (and you) have a quick school lunch go-to list that will make the mornings a little less chaotic, and lunches just a bit easier, healthier and generally yummier … then yay for all of us!

If you’re looking for some creative lunch recipes with cute presentation and fun packaging … this is not it. It’s all about simple, fresh, healthy foods that appeal to your kids, and that you can make on the go.

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I’m usually last-minute myself when it comes to lunch-packing, so I generally stick with pretty basic, easy-to-assemble items that can be put together ten minutes before they’re out the door (but are still nutrition-packed). But I’ve found that a little pre-planning can take some of the dread out of the whole lunch-making process …

Get the kid(s) involved. Now that my kids are a little older, it’s time they took on some of the lunch-packing responsibility. Even if your child can’t pack a lunch herself, you can let her in on the selection (from your list, of course). Martha Stewart has a great magnetic lunch chart that you can assemble together, mapping out meals for the entire week (don’t worry, it’s incredibly simple for a Martha project!). This also helps cut down on the morning haggling about what to pack, and gets your little one more excited about eating, when she’s “chosen” it herself.

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Post your own school lunch go-to list. The idea is to take the lunch list below, tailor it to your child’s tastes, add in his or her personal favorites, and post it to the fridge or upload it to your phone for planning and shopping. (I use the Our Groceries app, which is awesome, if you haven’t tried it. You can itemize favorite recipes, share your shopping list with others in the family so they can add to it when you run out of something, and easily delete items on your list as you shop — no more fumbling pencil and paper!)

With this go-to lunch list, you can rotate items when things start to get stale and you need to find some new foods that won’t actually come back home — warm, soggy and sad — in the lunch box.

School Lunch Ideas

1. It’s a wrap. So much you can do in a wrap (preferably a whole-wheat tortilla wrap), which helps when the sandwich thing gets old. My kids like the idea of assembling things themselves, so I usually pack the items individually, and let them do the work. This also keeps the wrap from getting soggy by the time lunch rolls around. (Note: Look for an upcoming post on good quality packing “tools,” which also makes everything a heck of a lot easier.)

Here are some options:

–      turkey and cheese

–      cream cheese and black olives (one of my kids’ favorites)

–      black beans, lettuce, shredded cheese and/or salsa

–      hummus with cucumber slices, tomato, lettuce and/or black olives

–      chicken Caesar – grilled chicken strips, lettuce, Caesar dressing and grated parmesan

–      tuna fish, plain or with tomato and/or lettuce

–      egg salad

–      even just a plain wrap with salsa for dipping

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2. It’s a lettuce wrap. What’s healthier than wrapping things up in a whole-wheat tortilla? Wrapping them up in a vegetable! Pack a nice big leaf of romaine alongside any of the above options.

3. Meat & cheese roll-ups. We use faux turkey with Havarti or Muenster in our house, but you can layer your kid’s favorite cheese on his or her favorite meat and roll it on up. Stick a toothpick in, and you’ve got the easiest sandwich you ever made (and they can eat it right off the stick!).

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4. All about the snacks. My kids are definitely all about the snacks, so I pack what looks like just a bunch of snacks or sides (i.e. no “main course”), but is really a pretty well-rounded meal.

– Black olives

– Chickpeas w/ olive oil and salt

– Plain lettuce with favorite dressing (packed in separate containers)

– Frozen raspberries (or any frozen fruit) with a little raw sugar sprinkled on top. (The berries melt into a nice sweet-n-sour slush by lunchtime.)

– Greek yogurt with honey and granola or berries

– hummus with a tortilla, tortilla chips, pretzels or carrot sticks for dipping

– celery, carrots or cucumbers with ranch dressing (try mixing greek yogurt, a little mayo and ranch seasoning  — delish!)

– edamame

– hard boiled egg

– string cheese or other cheese sticks with whole-wheat crackers

– favorite fruit or dried fruit

–  granola or Z-Bars

–  fruit pouches or crushers, or “squeezers” as well call them  (Happy Squeeze pouches are a top choice, packed with vitamins and minerals. They’re great to mix in baked goods or other recipes, too).

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5. Double-up soup. When the weather gets cooler, we make a lot of soups, and I usually double the recipe so we have plenty left over for lunches. If you want to wait several days or weeks before serving it again, freeze some in individual containers, and you can thaw overnight for school the next day. Try our favorite minestrone soup (add a piece of bread or crackers, and you’re done).

6. Pasta a plenty.  Pasta leftovers are always easy, too. Like the soup, you can put it in a good insulated food container to keep warm. I’ll make a big pot of whole wheat pasta on Sunday night and use it for a couple days worth of lunch. My kids like it with tomato sauce, olive oil and Parmesan or Ginger dressing.

7. The added treat. We generally try to eat healthy, but I’m all about the occasional treats or sweets to keep everyone from feeling too restricted or “deprived.” So I will throw in some chocolate, cookies or other sweet once or twice a week. And maybe scribble out a quick note from mom. If I can find an extra minute. Or remember.

Got your own school lunch favorites?  Please share so we all can grow our lists!

 

 

 

 

Pizza Popcorn — 2 Kid Favorites, 1 Awesome Snack!

 

When I was a kid, my dad used to make popcorn on the stove – the old-fashioned way with just some kernels, some oil and a pot. I never realized just how easy this was until I made it for the kids and their friends one day.

I used to buy microwave popcorn or Smartfood, but I’ve found that most kids love the pot popcorn (ok, that didn’t sound so good). Really though, with a little melted butter and salt, it’s pretty tasty.

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 AND the popcorn itself is made up of just that — kernels of popping corn — as opposed to the 10 or so ingredients found in the store-bought boxed varieties (and is a fraction of the cost.)

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Microwave Popcorn
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Just Popping Corn

Of course, you can do all sorts of things with this basic popcorn (sometimes we add cinnamon and sugar), but one of my favorite recipes is a creation by chef Cat Cora. It combines two of my kids’ (probably most kids’) favorite food flavors — pizza and popcorn — and works great for a family movie night or as a surprise gourmet-esque appetizer.

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Enjoy!

Pizza Popcorn 

Serves 4 (makes about 10 cups)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 10 cups popped popcorn (from ½ cup unpopped kernels; see “Popcorn Basics”)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan (freshly grated is really good)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1  Tbsp. finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I like up to 2 Tbsp)
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (I use a little less, or you can omit)
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder

Directions

Total time: 10 minutes

In a large bowl, toss oil and popcorn. Add remaining ingredients and toss again.
(Best served fresh, right after making.)

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What’s your favorite popcorn recipe? 

 

 

The Dark Side of Sunscreen

 

Whoever invented spray sunscreen was a genius. I know many of you moms and dads would agree. No more lathering up our fidgety kids, itching to get in the water, with all that thick white stuff that takes at least 120 rubs before Casper disappears and a child re-emerges.

 

A few long puffs of invisible spray … and you’re good to go.

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Sort of. Recently, I’ve come across some disturbing and inconvenient truths about these spray sunscreens, as well as some of the more mainstream sun care products in general. And as much as it pains me to say this, I’m tossing the spray can.

And taking a closer look at what we’re putting on our skin.

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In my big plans to live better, eat better, etc., I guess I’ve been more focused on what we’re putting in our mouths than what we’re putting on our skin. The skin, after all, is essentially drinking up what we give it, and along with the good SPF, the chemicals that come in many of these sunscreens (and other lotions and potions) are seeping their way into the body, as well.

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As my friend Jamie put it as she started looking for ways to protect her son (who’s had some serious health issues), “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”

Statistics show that our kids will be sicker than any other generation due to environmental factors beyond their control. And while I realize we can’t avoid every chemical out there in our modern world, when it comes to applying things directly to the skin, it seems to make sense that it shouldn’t be toxic.

Check the Ingredients

As it turns out, Vitamin A is one of the top chemicals to avoid in sunscreen, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Government studies have shown that on sun-exposed skin, vitamin A (often labeled “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol”) may speed development of skin tumors and lesions.

Another chemical called oxybenzone (found in more than 40 percent of beach and sport sunscreens) penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can trigger allergic reactions, and has been linked to endometriosis in older women.

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Rubbing these chemicals into your skin is probably not the best idea, but spraying them on is really not a good idea as it can pose serious inhalation risks, especially for kids, who are more likely to squirm around while getting sprayed. It’s also far too easy to apply too little or miss a spot. Even the FDA has expressed concern about spray products, yet we still see them out there on the store shelves.

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These are just a few of the potential risks. There are more things to consider, like high “SPF” and “broad-spectrum” labels, which often are not what they claim to be. But I won’t rattle them off here. You can find out for yourself at http://www.ewg.org/2013sunscreen/, which includes a list of the safest sunscreens (and is really not as confusing as it may seem). The good news is there are some better options out there.

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The EWG also offers some tips for using sunscreen with kids:

• If your child plans to swim and play in the water, look for a sunscreen that says it’s water resistant.

• Don’t buy sprays, powders and products with bug repellent.

• If spray sunscreen is all you have, spray on the hands first and rub it in, taking care to avoid the eyes and mouth.

• Infants under six months need special protection – a fair-skinned baby does not yet have protective melanin proteins and needs to be kept out of the sun.

• Make sure to apply sunscreen generously before you go outside, and reapply it often (especially if you’re spending a long day on the beach). Don’t believe claims that a product will remain effective for a certain period of time.

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I’m grateful for this info now, especially as we dive into summer, but I can’t say I’m happy about it. These safer sunscreens tend to cost more, and letting go of the oh-so-awesome spray can is going to, well, suck.

But as I’ve found with most things, a little more investment on the front end is worth the rewards, and the protection, on the back. It’s just going to take a little longer to rub in.

Of course, it also doesn’t hurt to cover up with plenty of gear.

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Here are some other recommendations:

SafeMama, a resource for information to help parents protect their kids:  http://safemama.com/cheatsheets/sunscreen/

Beautycounter, a company devoted to progress for safer skin care:  http://www.beautycounter.com/shop/sun.html/?ConsultantFirstName=Jamie&ConsultantID=23708&ConsultantLastName=Rawson

 

Post a comment to let us know what you’re using with your kid(s) … 

 

Could Your Kid Be Any Happier? Thankfully, Yes!

Ever since our kids started talking, we’ve had this bedtime gratitude ritual (among many others) that goes something like this:

What’s your “rose” for the day? I made a fort with Mimi.
And what’s your “thorn?” You made me take it down.

We still use this rose/thorn routine as a form of prayer or contemplation on the day — sometimes at night, in addition to or in lieu of other prayers, sometimes at the dinner table. But at some point we stepped it up (removing the “thorn” from the equation) with a family gratitude journal.

At least once a week, we each take turns writing (or telling Mom to write) down one thing:

My happiest moment of the day was …

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Starting this at a young age seemed like a good idea. I’ve been doing it on and off myself for the past eight years or so, and still I’m always surprised at how hard it is to keep up. Not just finding something to be thankful for when things are at their toughest. But remembering to be thankful in the good times. For the small, simple things. I wanted it to become second nature for my kids.

For many reasons. Research shows that practicing gratitude leads to greater happiness and optimism, deeper relationships, reduced stress, increased energy, greater spirituality, more self-esteem and overall better health. Jeffrey Froh, an assistant professor of psychology at Hofstra University, who focuses on the topic says that kids who practice gratitude “report better relationships with friends and family, higher GPAs, less materialism, less envy and less depression, along with a desire to connect to their community and to want to give back.”

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Take Oprah. She’s been talking gratitude for years (Aha!), and journaling since she was 15. And look where she is?

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Maybe I haven’t reached Oprah status, but what I’ve found is that in certain moments, this simple little practice of writing things down can change my outlook, even turn the day around. And doing it as a family … even more so. I’ve noticed the energy in the house actually shift a bit after we’ve all taken a step back, and focused on something happy.

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It doesn’t have to be some grand moment with philosophical pondering. The simpler, the better. Roman’s happiest moment last week was “dessert.”

If nothing else, it’s a way to check in once a week (every day if you’re ambitious) and connect with one another. And to remember that if you can look beyond all the thorns of the day … eventually you’ll uncover the rose.

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A happiest moment for me – planting this gorgeous new rose bush with my mom

 

Here’s the journal our family uses:

20140610_163630 http://www.amazon.com/Gratitude-A-Journal-Catherine-Price/dp/081186720X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402348255&sr=8-1&keywords=gratitude+journal.

It’s a great little book with reflections, suggestions and inspiring quotes. But you don’t need this, or a fancy one – any notebook will do.

Let me know if you’re already doing this (maybe in another form), plan to take it up one day, or have other thoughts or ideas.

I’ll be most grateful.

 

 

Twist on the Tomato for Your Salty Tooth (Adult & Kid Versions)

Is there a more perfect fruit than a tomato? Well, maybe, but I can’t think of one. Probably because I prefer salty over sweet, so when it comes to a quick snack that’s as satisfying as it is healthy, this fruit (disguised as a veggie in cooking) is hard to beat. A drizzle of olive oil and some big chunks of sea salt on a nice ripe, rich tomato — it’s almost better than a handful of chips for me. But even better, throw on some good blue cheese and now, really, it’s just about the perfect snack.

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Now a slice of tomato is not exactly my kids’ idea of a great snack (or a snack at all), much less with blue cheese, so I had Riley come up with her own twist …

Shredded mozzarella … Voila!  NOW it makes sense.

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We used some kumatos* from Trader Joes, which were incredibly flavorful — a good ripe tomato makes all the difference. And lucky for you, ‘tis the season for tomatoes so you can find some nice rich ones out there.

This mozzarella idea led to what seemed like an even better (kid-friendly and kid-sized) idea …

“TOMATO-MAN!”

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We hacked off the top and bottom of a grape tomato, threw on some mozzarella “hair,” and cut two wide slits for the eyes (diced black olives).

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Don’t forget a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt to seal the deal.

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Roman wasn’t too sure about “Tomato-Man.”

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But Riley and her friends gobbled him up.

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* The colour of Kumato® tomatoes varies from dark brown to golden green. This is its natural appearance. Although they may look as if they are unripe and they will be bitter to the taste, this family of tomatoes has an authentic and intense flavour. 
They are sweeter than normal tomatoes, with a contrasting slightly sour note, which makes for a unique and clearly defined taste sensation. Furthermore, Kumato® tomatoes are very juicy and firm in texture, which means they are an excellent choice when preparing delicious salads and many tomato-based recipes. From www.kumato.com.

 

 

Pumped-up Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Muffins (Fit for a Soccer Team)

This is my reduced-sugar (but plenty sweet) take on a banana-bread recipe my college roommate used to make. I decided to try it as a snack for my son Roman’s soccer team, mainly because: 1) I’ve never found anyone who doesn’t love it, and 2) it’s just so dang simple.

It literally took me 10 minutes to throw everything in a bowl and then throw them in the oven. AND because I had most of the ingredients in the pantry already, it was about half the cost of a store-bought snack (score #3).

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Since my kids won’t come within ten feet of a banana, I decided to substitute pumpkin for the bananas. I also wanted to “wholesome” it up a bit for the little athletes, so I added some cinnamon applesauce and rolled oats, and cut the sugar almost in half. Then I threw in some chocolate chips (to sweeten the deal) because, let’s face it, I knew homemade, straight-up pumpkin muffins weren’t going to go over well when the boys found out they weren’t getting their goldfish or sun chips.

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Not that I’m above goldfish and sun chips (believe me, I’ve bought my fair share).

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But this time, as one mom put it (“Look at you raising the bar!”), well … I thought it wouldn’t hurt to raise the bar. Along with the energy level. At least slightly.

There were a few kids who, expecting the fish or chips, were a little thrown by the baked goods. But they ate ’em all up.

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minus one that got away …

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Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Muffins

1/2 cup butter or vegetable oil
1/2 – 3/4 cup raw cane sugar (normally calls for 1 cup)
2 eggs
3/4 cup organic canned pumpkin (or, if you prefer, smashed ripe banana)
1/2 cup organic cinnamon applesauce
1  1/4 cups sifted whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 – 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Cream butter and sugar until light. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each. Stir in pumpkin and applesauce. Sift together dry ingredients; add to pumpkin mixture and mix well till blended. Stir in oats and chocolate chips. Fill 20 – 24 muffin liners about 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Berry Picking — a Top-“Pick” Summer Outing for the Kids

With school almost out, and if you’re like me, you’re probably scrambling to figure out how the heck you’re going to keep your kid(s) entertained all the live-long summer. Well, here’s a wacky idea: take ‘em berry picking.

I realize that may sound a little ho-hum to some, but it’s actually more fun than you might think, especially if you find a farm that offers lots of other activities for kids. Last year, we went to a family-run farm in McDonough, Georgia (about 45 minutes southeast of Atlanta), called Southern Belle Farm, right at the end of strawberry picking season (from April to June) and the beginning of blackberry and blueberry season (all summer).

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Not only did the kids get to see that (good) food really does come from straight up out of the earth (and not from a box), they loved combing the vines, looking for the biggest, ripest strawberries they could find, which became kind of a contest since it was the end of the season, and they were a little harder to
come by.

It was like an Easter egg hunt, but with a few less colors, and a few more bugs.

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There were also raspberries and blackberries, which were huge, and very tasty (although Riley’s face tells a different story) . . . right from the bush.

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The kids also got to see a whole mess of barnyard animals, bounce around on a huge jumping “pillow,” and have some of Mimi’s homemade strawberry cake and ice cream.

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But wait, there’s more — which, for some reason, we missed on that particular day — like a live dairy milking demonstration, a hay ride tour of the farm, a cow train and racing pedal carts (but we still had a blast, and made an awesome blackberry cobbler that weekend). You bet we’ll be going back this summer, and maybe also in the fall when they showcase their pumpkin patch, corn maze and cotton picking.

All that and a couple baskets full of hand-picked berries? Hey, could be just the kind of wacky thing you need this summer.

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http://www.southernbellefarm.com

You can find a farm for berry picking in your area at www.pickyourown.org.

“The Most Delicious [Breakfast] Parfait on the Whole Damn Planet!”

I have the neighbor, and friend, everyone wishes they had. The kind who will let you rummage through her pantry for paprika when she’s out of town. Or good-humoredly agree to sample your child’s latest homemade “super-sour gum” that looks like it’s been chewed up and spit out already.

So I wasn’t surprised when Ingrid, who’s a registered dietitian and health coach, generously agreed to give a presentation to my daughter Riley’s 2nd-grade class.

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It was a fairly casual, interactive discussion about making healthy food choices, but the highlight was a DIY breakfast parfait table with a pretty impressive spread of ingredients.

Here’s what she brought for the kids to choose from and layer upon layer:

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Stoneyfield Organic low-fat French Vanilla yogurt
Fresh pineapple, diced
Frozen wild blueberries, thawed
Fresh organic strawberries, diced
Fresh yellow mango, diced
Cascadian Farm Oats and Honey granola
Carrington Farms chia seeds
Bob’s Red Mill unsweetened shredded coconut
Agave nectar

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I would say just about every child in that room finished his or her colorful little parfait cup.

And had a load of questions for Ingrid. So I thought I’d interview her about this simple, but brilliant, parfait making idea and what makes it the perfect breakfast food for kids.

So, Ingrid, you know that Donkey from “Shrek” says, “parfait’s gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!” Obviously a healthy breakfast parfait isn’t exactly what Donkey had in mind, but was this your line of thinking here?

Well, like you said, the word parfait conjures up images of a fun dessert with layers of color and delicious toppings.  My thought was that if kids were allowed to put together their own parfaits they would be more apt to eat them, so why not provide a lineup of colorful healthy fruit with some fun and interesting add-ins like coconut, chia seeds and granola and let them create their own personal parfaits.

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Do fresh fruits really make a difference (over frozen — to save time in the morning rush)? What’s the difference between fresh and frozen in terms of nutritional value?

Both fresh and frozen fruits (and vegetables) are nutritional powerhouses.  However, when deciding which version to choose I usually ask myself the following question: Is it currently in season?  If yes, I choose fresh. Seasonal produce always tastes better and is usually a better value. And more grocery stores are starting to purchase produce from local sources, which cuts down on travel time.  The shorter the time between harvest and retail, the more nutrients are retained.  That being said, frozen fruits and vegetables are an excellent choice any time because they have been picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen shortly thereafter, which retains all their nutrients. The important thing to pay attention to with frozen produce is the ingredient label. Nothing but the fruit itself should appear on it.

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What’s up with the chia seeds — are these really good for us?

Yes they are! Chia seeds are high in fiber, contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to human health, and are also an excellent source of protein and calcium.

And what does coconut have in it?

To be honest, coconut (the unsweetened kind) just tastes good! It has a little bit of fiber and iron, but should be eaten in moderation due to its high saturated fat content, although this type of saturated fat is not as bad for you as the animal-based sources of saturated fats.

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I heard you tell the kids they should “eat the rainbow.” Can you explain?

Foods with deep colors, the kind that fruits and vegetables contain, are concentrated sources of phytonutrients. For example, the blues and purples are flavanoids, and the reds, yellows and oranges are carotenoids. There are thousands of phytonutrients in plant foods, many of which have been shown to protect against diseases like cancer, high blood pressure and eye disease. I think they will be linking phytonutrients to many more health benefits in the future, as well. So eating the rainbow is eating for health.

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Can you suggest a few other healthy, and quick, breakfast ideas for kids?

Sure, I love peanut butter on toasted whole grain bread with banana slices, and fruit smoothies, especially if you can sneak in some greens. In the summer, I like to make overnight oatmeal.  Just mix together a cup of vanilla yogurt, a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a cup of rolled oats, 2 cups of fresh or frozen mixed berries, ¼ teaspoon of vanilla and some honey to taste.  Refrigerate overnight and you have a great-tasting cold oatmeal ready to go in the morning.  If you have time, toast some chopped almonds or walnuts to sprinkle on top. I also like Meal Makeover Moms.com; they are a great source for kid-friendly recipes.

What if someone wants to have a dietitian visit his or her child’s class and do a similar food demonstration? Where would be the best place to find a willing soul like you (assuming you’re busy)?

Contact the Greater Atlanta Dietetic Association at eatrightatlanta.org.

Ingrid Hill is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in corporate wellness and private consultations.

5 Simple Steps for Allergy Relief (that you may have forgotten)

I never had allergies before last year, and even though I used to write a LOT about managing allergy symptoms for Schering-Plough, I was still sidelined by just how debilitating they can be. My son and I have been suffering for so long this spring, we both developed sinus infections. And even though we’ve managed to make it through with some o-t-c allergy medication, there are some simple things I forgot about (in the itchy, watery, sneezy fog — eewww), that could really make a difference.

Thought I would share them with you fellow allergy sufferers (so sorry) in case you’ve overlooked them this year, too:

  • Wear hats and pollen masks if you have to be outdoors for any length of time (especially on warm, dry and windy days).
  • Avoid hair gel and other hair products that can act as “pollen magnets.”
  • Change clothes before entering your bedroom; splash your face and gently wash your eyelids with water; and shampoo your hair in the evening.
  • Avoid touching your eyes and face, and use cool eye compresses to help reduce eye allergy symptoms.
  • Get plenty of water, and get to bed early to fight the fatigue that often comes with allergies (and the decongestants that can dry you out).