We often talk about how to get enough fruits and vegetables into kids, but I have to say that I struggle to get enough protein into mine. I know I’m not alone, as I’ve heard the same complaints from friends and readers, who know that the protein in a meal or snack is what keeps tummies full and supports healthy bone and muscle growth.
I’m a busy mom with three kids, and just like every other parent in the world, I stress sometimes about getting enough fruits and vegetables into my kids. Some days it feels like too much work to even bother, mostly because I’m not really interested in having the same negotiation I’ve had for almost 13 years now. I can’t tell you how many times in just the last month I’ve answered the question, “Mom what can I eeeeeeeat?” with, “How about something that required photosynthesis to end up in the fridge!”
Last week I judged the University of New Hampshire’s “Healthy Chef Challenge,” an Iron Chef-style competition that pitted three teams of two students against each other. The premise was simple but the challenge was tough: teams submitted an original healthy recipe to us here at Guiding Stars and we ran it through our ratings system to assign one, two or three stars based on overall nutrition. We provided the teams with details about why the recipes fared either well or poorly, and they were allowed to revise them if they deemed it necessary to do so.
Last month I filmed a segment for my local television station’s health feature, “Fit at Five” with Kelly LaBrecque. The concept came from a previous guest on Kelly’s show who expressed frustration and boredom with the bagged lunches that he packed for work. Kelly found a volunteer for a lunch bag makeover, and off we went to see how I could help.
On the evening of September 13, 2012, the National PTA, in conjunction with the Pew Charitable Trusts and the USDA, held an online event titled: “Virtual Back to School Night: The School Day Just Got Healthier!” The goal was to provide parents with the a better understanding of the changes to the National School Lunch Program. The event focused on how these new rules will affect the health of the nation’s school children through modifications to the nutrition and caloric content of the foods they consume at school.
Since guacamole is one of my favorite things on earth to eat, I thought it was time to try a new version, this time spotlighting its versatility as a salad course. Over the years I’ve seen chicken or tuna salad mounded on top an avocado half–a delicious combo in its own right but hardly a healthy one–so I thought maybe I could do the same thing with the guacamole ingredients. Easy as that, I mounded the chopped guacamole ingredients onto an avocado half and served it ready to be combined by the diner right before eating.
At our schools, the lunch schedule for the various grades is based on several important considerations, but the time at which the kids actually NEED lunch doesn’t seem to be one of them. As regular visitors to this blog know, I am trying mightily to change the food served at school lunch, but changing the schedule is a front on which I have chosen not to fight. Instead, I have an easy system for sending the kids to school with snacks that will fairly healthfully tide them over to the next meal, whenever it may be.
Those ravioli and tortellini in the fresh case at the supermarket seem to weasel their way into my refrigerator every week. Why? Well, they’re a simple and tasty way to get some protein into my kids. Even my picky eldest will eat them, sometimes even for breakfast. They’re great leftover and cold, packed into a lunchbox with a little container of marinara or (heaven help me) ranch dressing, as my daughter is wont to do.