Do you have a picky eater and spend hours agonizing about how to steer her away from the chicken nuggets and pasta diet? At my wit’s end with one of my own, I asked Cooking Channel host and The Next Food Network Star winner Melissa d’Arabian for some help.
Here, in her own words, are Melissa’s favorite tricks:
1. Let your kids pick the produce
I turn grocery shopping into a bit of an outing and the kids all know that they are in charge of picking produce. I hand them the plastic bag and say “Ok, Margaux, you are in charge of picking the best two fennel bulbs you can find!” Amazingly, the kids never tire of “being in charge of picking.” Now, you might expect me to tell you that Margaux will go home and eat the fennel because she picked it. Ha! Were it only so easy. But I think the fact that she had to ask me “What does fennel look like?” and she had to search over the green veggies, and spot the kale and the bok choy to get to the fennel means several veggies were a bit demystified for her. She might taste the fennel when I serve it, but even if she doesn’t, she spent 15 minutes feeling good about fennel and learning about it. Victory.
2. Go to the farmer’s market, for entertainment
Turn the farmer’s market trip into a relaxed, fun family outing. We amble leisurely from stall to stall, finding the craziest shaped squash, or a funny, knobby, tomato. The girls strike up conversations with the vendors, many of them farmers, who love to chat about their goods. We can easily spend a couple of hours at the farmer’s market, feeling good about fresh, unprocessed food. While the prices may be a bit higher than they are at the grocery store, I figure it’s still cheaper than taking everyone to the movie for two hours. And no one is falling in love with an oversized pumpkin at the cinema.
3. Serve at least two vegetables at dinner
Kids like to feel empowered. I like to serve two veggies during dinner to give my kids the option: Would you like carrots, kale, or both? They get to be involved in the decisions and I can ensure they’re eating at least one. Plus it’s a great way for us to meet our own nutritional goals and model healthy eating to the kids.
4. Have the kids “present” dinner
Every night one of the children presents the dinner to the rest of the family, explaining what each dish is, the main ingredients, and a very brief nutritional overview of the dish. For instance, “This is chicken cooked in a mustard sauce. Chicken is a protein which helps us build muscles.” My goal is to develop an appreciation for the different roles of healthy foods. Kids tend to group all “healthy” foods into one bucket, and I want my kids to know that just because they ate some healthy fish doesn’t mean that they don’t need to get some produce in there too.
5. Invite Your Kids to Plan the Menu
Every couple of weeks, I let each child plan dinner for the entire family. The rules are: Mom has to approve the menu, and mom is allowed to add a dish or two of her choosing. At first, the girls were suggesting crazy, imbalanced dinner menus, like my daughter Charlotte’s first: doughnuts and cinnamon cake. I gently told her how much I loved her creativity with the “breakfast for dinner” concept, but I wondered if perhaps we might be missing a protein? We agreed to add an omelet to the meal, and we moved the cinnamon cake to dessert. And, she excitedly suggested having a fruit salad instead of vegetables. The girls are developing a good sense for how to build a balanced meal, but there are two additional benefits: I have an internal salesperson sitting at the table, selling “her” menu to her sisters and the girls are more accepting of my menus, knowing they will get their own turn next Tuesday.
6. Make one meal for the whole family, and have the “no thank you” bite
I like to serve meals that offer delicious and nutritious foods that the whole family can enjoy. Sure you can adjust spices as needed, but I still make one meal. Then, the “no thank you” bite comes into play. My kids are welcome to say they don’t care for something as long as they have one bite. If they don’t like it, that’s fine, and I move on. For me this fits our family because I wanted my kids to be willing to try things. That was more important to me than having them stomach a huge thing of broccoli.
7. Give them “taste-tester” notebooks
I turned my children into “official” taste-testers just by giving each one a composition book that I bought for a buck! Anytime they try a new food, they write it down, give it a score from 1-10, and can write some comments (“yummy!” or “thought it was mushy”). Just the act of giving them a place to voice their opinion helps validate their opinions and creates an adventurous spirit at the table.
by Nicole Burley
The last thing you need in the middle of a busy afternoon is an energy crash. It happens every day, though – almost without fail. Your ‘oomph’ starts to fade a few hours after lunch and all you want to do is take a nap.
I’m here with a few tips to help keep your energy cruising all day long. And, believe it or not, none of my tips involve resorting to chocolate or jugs of coffee!
1. Shake the Sugar
“But that candy really perks me up!” Please believe me: the excess sugar in your diet is not helping you at all. Do more than just avoid sugar pick-me-ups when you’re starting to crash–avoid excess sugar from the moment you wake up in the morning. Skip the processed cereals, bagels, muffins, and fruit juice. Go for fiber-rich foods that are made with whole grains. Snack on nuts, vegetables, hummus, and whole fruit. Keep sugary foods out of your life and be sure to read your labels. If it has more than 9 grams of sugar per serving, don’t buy it or eat it.
2. Kick the Caffeine
I know. You need it. You can’t start the day without it. But think about that for a second. Is that really okay with you? Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it gives you fake energy. It’s kind of like zapping yourself with a cattle prod. Ouch! If you want all-day energy that never dips and dives, then I recommend removing all of the artificial stimulants and ‘cattle-prods’ from your day. Yes, it will be yucky at first, but in the long run, you will feel so much better. I promise!
3. Start Off Strong
Please eat breakfast. I know it sounds like such a cliché, but clichés are often true. Breakfast sets the tone for your entire day and determines if you’ll be spending your day on an energy roller coaster–or a monorail.
4. Act like a Squirrel
Never let yourself be caught without a healthy snack on hand. One of the keys to keeping your energy steady and constant is to never go too long without feeding yourself. Stuff healthy snacks like nuts or whole grain snack bars in every hand bag, desk drawer, glove compartment, and coat pocket if necessary! Be prepared and remember to replace your ‘emergency’ food once you’ve eaten it.
5. Healthy Hydration
Keeping your body hydrated is one of the best ways to keep everything running smoothly and to keep yourself feeling energized. Though it’s tempting to reach for sports drinks and juices, your best bet is good old water. Drink up!
Nicole Burley, M.Ed is a certified Life Coach and Health Coach, with a specialty in plant-based nutrition. Guided by her philosophy, “Health is fun. Diets are not.”, Nicole helps her clients stay motivated as they lose weight, get healthy, and turn on the lights in their lives.
by Samantha Ettus
At every age, I have been a bit proud of the year under my belt. But this one is different. My 40th birthday arrives this week and I have become a wreck. I want a party. I don’t want a party. I am sad. I am hysterical. I have everything I have always wanted. I just want to crawl under the covers.
I am often accused of being that woman – the one that appears to have it all together. Whose Facebook page looks like a highlight reel, whose kids look at the camera in synch for the holiday photo, but at the end of the day, we are all busy fighting our own struggles and assuming others’ don’t exist. And I find that working moms especially, worry in silos. We don’t think we have more on Forbes…
by Samantha Ettus
With all of the hoopla about the just released What to Expect When You’re Expectingmovie, the Jennifer Lopez andCameron Diaz fronted ensemble film, it is easy to forget the woman who started it all. Heidi Murkoff has sold more than 40 Million books yet she has no assistant, no product spinoffs and won’t accept advertising on her website. It is hard to even find a link to her books from the home page. This is hardly what we envision when we think of the woman behind the most successful book franchise in self-help history.
I had the chance to connect with the unassuming first lady of pregnancy yesterday. Murkoff’s two children, Emma and Wyatt, are now 29 and 26. She completed the first book when she was pregnant with Emma 30 years ago. When I ask Murkoff if she has achieved her dreams she responds, “I actually don’t think in terms of dreams – which sort of implies sitting around waiting to be visited by good fortune – I think in terms of missions.” Murkoff sees her mission more on Forbes…
by Samantha Ettus
Your life shouldn’t be this hard. You are working, momming, juggling, and you are probably exhausted without a break in sight. If this describes you, take respite in knowing that small lifestyle edits can make great changes.
Here are 8 ways to make tomorrow easier than today:
1. Routinize Your Schedule
Even if you don’t live by a train, act as though you do. Make a daily departure time and proudly stick to it. This makes you more dependable at home and more reliable at the office. Colleagues will steer clear of the 5pm conference call if they know you leave at 5:30 and your family will be more organized if they know when to expect you.
2. Plan Your Dinners
Schedule the week of dinners on Sunday more on Forbes…
by Samantha Ettus
Starving a 7-year-old is child abuse even when it’s cloaked in the beautiful pages of Vogue.
While Mad Men’s 1960s misogyny had center stage this week, Vogue Magazine found a way to steal it. The fashion bible came out yesterday with a first person account by Dara-Lynn Weiss, a troubled mother who drove her 7-year-old daughter towards a 16 pound weight loss, sometimes depriving her of dinner when she had “too big” a lunch and starving her on and off for a year. And while readers and media were gaping in horror, she was running around town securing a publishing deal, so now she has an even bigger audience to preach to with her misdirected war against fat. I picture her leapfrogging from a soulless fashion editor to a soulless book editor. Apparently they are easy to find.
As a mom I am saddened and as a Random House author, I am appalled. (Weiss landed a book deal with the same publishing house that published my books.) But who is to blame? Is it Anna Wintour and her total disregard for her editorial responsibility to publish accurate information? Is it Random House for the same sin? Is it Michelle Obama’s war on obesity more on Forbes…