Food

New USDA Food Guideline: What does it mean for your children?

By dadsplay at February 10, 2011 | 4:23 pm | 0 Comment

New USDA Food Guideline: What does it mean for your children?

The federal government released its Dietary Guidelines for Americans earlier this week, a process it goes through once every five years to keep the public informed about the nutritional choices they should be making to stay healthy. And as the nation’s obesity crisis continues, our culture’s need for dietary change was reflected in the unusually blunt tone of the latest edition. Instead of vague terms and polite suggestions, federal regulators are being more direct than ever, explicitly saying that Americans need to consume less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day, get no more than 10 percent of our total caloric intake from saturated fats and reduce our daily calorie consumption, especially the “empty” ones often found in heavily processed, prepackaged foods. Some items on the chopping block are sugary soft drinks, fried and processed food, refined grains and processed meats that are high in saturated fat.

Do you find all these percentages confusing? You’re not alone.

The new guideline also urges Americans to eat more vegetables (as an easy visual guide, it suggests half your plate at every meal should be vegetables) and calls for a drastic reduction in the amount of salt people are consuming. The average American gets up to 3,400 milligrams of salt a day in his diet, nearly 1,100 mg above the recommended limit. It’s suggested that children consume even less salt, so parents should monitor their children’s sodium intake to make sure they’re getting no more than 1,500 mg a day. When talking about salt, it’s important to note that your daily dosage goes far beyond what comes from the shaker. A good deal of the salt we eat is hidden as a preserving agent in packaged food and beverages, especially frozen and canned ones, so it’s important to always check the label to see how much sodium is lurking inside, even if the product in question doesn’t taste particularly salty.

Much of the information in the 2010 guideline may seem obvious, but singling out certain foods as unhealthy, and telling Americans to eat less in general, is actually a big step forward. Previous guidelines have called for less sugar, solid fats and salt, but failed to target the specific foods or let people know which ones had unhealthy additives hiding inside. In contrast, the 2010 guideline clearly defines foods that over-contribute to empty calorie consumption among children ages 2 to 18 (sorry pie, pizza and soda, but according to page 10 you’re the worst offenders), and offers easy to understand advice on making healthier choices for adults and their children.

As obesity continues to lead to more and more health problems—becoming a bigger and bigger drain on the country’s health care resources—eating less may seem like common sense. But believe it or not, this the first time the Dietary Guideline for Americans has recommended that Americans eat less overall, indicating how serious an issue poor nutrition and over consumption has become in our society.

So now that we have a clear understanding of what we SHOULDN’T feed our kids, what can we give them? Fortunately the new guideline has good advice in that department as well. Here’s a brief wrap-up of their suggestions.

More veggies; more variety. Not only do we need more vegetables in our life, (remember the half the plate rule), we need more types as well. Dark leafy greens like spinach, arugula, romaine lettuce and broccoli tend to have the most nutrients, but red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, as well as beans, are also packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. If you think of your plate as a pie chart, the dark green slice should be big, but save space for other colors as well.

Whole grains over refined grains. At least half of all grain consumption should come from whole grains. This means no white bread, no “white wheat” bread and far fewer white bread bagels. Often in the refining process, which is what happens to grain before it becomes the flour used in most white breads, the bran of the grain (the fiber-rich outer layer) is removed to make it easier to turn into mass produced food. In this process a lot of the nutritious elements of the grains are lost. By letting grain keep its natural plant chemicals, they promote better overall health than grains that are stripped and bleached.

Milk does a body good, assuming it’s the right type. Milk is a great source of calcium, which is essential for growing bones. But whole milk and milk products (cheese, yogurt, etc…) can have a lot of saturated fat. When picking milk and dairy products, the guideline says you should stick to fat-free or low-fat options or try products that use soy as a dairy alternative. For parents with very young children it should be noted that cholesterol and fat are thought to be important for brain development, so kids under 2 may benefit from their consumption. Please talk to your child’s pediatrician about what the recommended levels are for your child.

Eat high quality protein. Protein is very important to help young children grow, but excessive amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol found in some animal products can be problematic. Seafood, lean meat, beans, eggs and poultry are recommended, while parents are urged to avoid feeding their children processed meats like ground beef, cold cuts or hot dogs and sausages. When cooking it’s also important to use oils like olive and vegetable oils, which are healthier alternatives to solid cooking fats or butter and margarine spreads, which contain high levels of saturated fat and partially hydrogenated oils which can be very unhealthy.

An improved Dietary Guideline for Americans can’t hurt in the fight against childhood obesity, but eventually the responsibility is in the hands of parents. As adults it’s up to us to prepare healthier food for our children, model healthful eating habits at home and educate children about how and why making better food choices are so important. We still have a long way to go, but additional support from the White House, school systems and Federal government may indicate that the dinner tables are turning, and it’s time for parents to heed their call.

By Tripp Underwood, Children’s Hospital Boston, used with permission.

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Make a Personal SNOWMAN Pizza with the Kids

By dadsplay at January 2, 2011 | 2:01 pm | 0 Comment

Make a Personal SNOWMAN Pizza with the Kids

Kids love pizza whether it’s a holiday or any other day of the year.  Why not make pizza night into a “make your own snowman” night?  And a favorite food just got healthier!You can use our “healthier” version for the dough or buy ready-made pizza dough but, either way, this is a truly fun family dinner idea.

Let the kids help to roll dough, make snowman and add sauce, cheese and pepperoni.

What you need:

Dough

3 ½ Cups whole wheat flour

1 Cup white flour

2 Tsp. active dry yeast

1 Tsp. sugar

1 ¼ Tsp. salt

1 ½ Tsp. olive oil

¼ Tsp. garlic powder

2 Cups water

¼ Cup grated parmesan cheese

Other Ingredients

Tomato sauce

Mozzarella cheese

Pepperoni

Capers

Carrot

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Slowly add water, a little at a time, knead until dough is firm and smooth.  Using olive oil, grease bowl and place dough ball in bowl, turning once so all surfaces are oiled.  Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until double in size, usually about 2 hours.

Place dough on a well-floured surface and roll dough to about ¼ inch thick.  Cut out three different sizes to form each snowman, by hand or using pastry cutters.  Assemble snowman on baking pan, attaching “balls” by pressing together.  Add sauce, cheese and Snowman decorations.  Cut pepperoni into scarves, piecing two pieces together, if necessary.  Make noses by cutting tiny carrot triangles.

For more ZiggityZoom fun food ideas.

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Reindeer Pancakes Are Easy to Make with the Kids

By dadsplay at November 27, 2010 | 3:51 pm | 0 Comment

Reindeer Pancakes Are Easy to Make with the Kids

Make breakfast into a fun activity over the Holidays. Dads, here is a fun food that you can serve to your kids during the Christmas break .  Make some colored pancake mix and let the kids have fun making and eating their creations.  We made these cute Reindeer pancakes, but you can also try some colorful ornaments and snowmen. It’s super easy using plastic squeeze bottles.  Find them in a kitchen department of most stores.  You can find the clear kind or ones designed for use with ketchup or mustard.  Be sure to get one one for plain cake batter besides the colored batter you will make.

Let the kids help make their own pancakes with parental supervision.  Our kids enjoyed making their own creations and so will yours.

What you need:

Pancake mix

Eggs

Vegetable oil

Milk

Red food coloring

Green food coloring

Plastic squeeze bottles
Make pancake mix according to directions on package.  Prepare batter using directions for 2 cups pancake mix.  Divide batter into containers.  For reindeer, mix ½ cup batter and 5 drops red food coloring.  For green batter, use ½ cup mix and 4 drops green food coloring.  Leave remaining batter as is.

Pour each color batter into a squeeze bottle.  Heat griddle to medium heat.  For reindeer, make a dot for eye, then add plain batter on top of eye to form a 2 inch circle.  Add a red nose and a red collar.  To form antlers, make a thin line touching head and then make a small branch coming from first part of antler.  Antlers will spread, so only make a fairly thin antler.

For more fun Christmas foods check out ZiggityZoom.com

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Easy Healthy Ideas for Dinner any Dad can put Together

By dadsplay at October 27, 2010 | 12:35 am | 0 Comment

Easy Healthy Ideas for Dinner any Dad can put Together

The right tool for the right job is what they always say, and they’re right!  Have you ever tried to complete a job around the house without the right tool?  For instance hammering a nail into the wall, for hanging a picture frame, with something besides a hammer….it probably got the job done, but wasn’t nearly as easy as using a hammer.  I recently learned (I’m a slow learner) that this same rule applies in the kitchen, as well, after purchasing a steamer from Walmart (it’s a pot with holes that sits on top of another pot.)

One of the easiest meals I’ve ever made was salmon, rice and broccoli, which is also one of the healthiest I’ve ever made.  If you can turn on your oven and boil water, then you can make this meal.  Using frozen salmon fillets, with prepackaged sauce already applied to the frozen fillet, I place the oven on bake to the appropriate temperature, place the frozen salmon on a baking tray (removed from their packaging) and place in the oven for the amount of time directed (usually 20-25 minutes).  Rice simply requires that you boil water, then add the rice, lower the temperature to simmer (the lowest setting) and wait for the appropriate time.  Using the steamer is just as simple.  Boil water in the primary pot, once boiling place the steaming pot (the one with the holes) and the broccoli on top of the boiling pot, with the lid on, and wait 6 minutes.  Remove the broccoli and add some butter and salt.

My girls love this meal and it’s a truly simple meal to put together, because almost all of it is letting the oven and the boiling water do the cooking.  They love Jasmine brand white rice with a dash of soy sauce once served.  I can’t stress enough the importance of having the right tools to make the job really easy.

By R.S. Pierce

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Fast, Easy, 10 Minute Meals-Kid-Friendly Black Bean and Salsa Soup

By dadsplay at September 30, 2010 | 2:47 pm | 0 Comment

Fast, Easy, 10 Minute Meals-Kid-Friendly Black Bean and Salsa Soup

Are you looking for a fast meal to make tonight? This Black Bean and Salsa Soup is a favorite in my house!. My 2, 4, and 6 year olds all love this soup!

Make this dinner and it will fast become a Kid Favorite Dinner at your house! You can make this Soup in less than 10 minutes and it only requires 2 main ingredients!

Here’s What You Need:

  • 2 cans Black Beans (with liquid)
  • 1 Cup Salsa (you can add more salsa flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Garlic Clove (diced)-optional
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil-optional
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper-optional
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Cilantro-diced-optional

Here’s How:

For Basic Recipe: Pour both cans of Black Beans with the liquid into a saucepan. Add Salsa to Black Beans. Use a Hand held Blender to puree black beans and salsa so most of the beans are pureed (the soup will still have some chunks). If you do not have a hand blender, use a potatoe masher to mash the bean mixture. Add the 1/2 tsp of Chili Powder and the 1/8 tsp of Garlic Powder. Cook on Medium Heat for 5 minutes until it starts to bubble. Remove Black Bean Mixture/Soup from Heat and Serve Immediately and if your family likes Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Reduced Fat Sour Cream and Chopped Green Onions add to the bowls of soup.

For Soup with a little more flavor- before adding the Black Beans to the Saucepan, add 1 tsp of Olive Oil and Heat over Medium Heat- added the diced Garlic to the pan and sautee for 1-2 minutes, then follow the steps above and add the the Cayenne Pepper and Diced Cilantro when you add the Chili Powder and Garlic Powder. You can Also add a little more Salsa for added flavor.

Serve this with a salad or a side of celery and carrot sticks to round off a quick and healthy meal.

Toppings:  You can serve the soup with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, a dollop of sour cream and even a little bit of corn.

Information about Black Beans-Black beans are such a healthy food that is also tasty and versatile. 1/2 cup serving of black beans provides 8g of Protein, 6g of Fiber and 105 of the Iron we need for a day. It is a great food to add to your family’s diet.

Recipe provided by the top mom blog Mommie911.  Recipe by Parenting Expert-Kristin Fitch.  Posted with permission.

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How to Make Microwave Kettlecorn Popcorn

By dadsplay at September 29, 2010 | 1:06 am | 0 Comment

How to Make Microwave Kettlecorn Popcorn

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Dinner Ideas when Dad is in Charge

By dadsplay at September 28, 2010 | 1:10 am | 0 Comment

Dinner Ideas when Dad is in Charge

In our house most nights my wife gets dinner ready. On occasions when she needs a break or has a business meeting or plans with girlfriends, I get our kids dinner.

I can’t claim to be a cook or great around the kitchen because I am not. But I can prepare several easy meals that my kids will eat and I can get ready quickly.

I have also learned 2 things. If I give my kids a salad and fruit with anything else, my wife will be happy with the effort and I know I am getting a fruit and veggie into them.

Keep the kids occupied while I get everything ready and on their plates. One way I keep them engaged is by playing 20 questions about Animals with them or giving them a coloring book and crayons.

My all time lunch or dinner staples are simple, no frills meals:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
(remember I do offer it with a fruit and veggie and on whole wheat bread).

Spaghetti
(whole wheat angel hair noodles) and sauce (yes it is from the jar) (with a fruit and salad).

Grilled Cheese Sandwich
(low fat cheese slice and whole wheat bread)
Thin Crust Pizza w/ tomatoes & veggies (whole wheat crust on occasion).

Chicken or Veggie Wraps
- put the salad or veggies in the wrap with leftover chicken or mashed beans and drizzle with salad dressing- put a tooth pick in it and cut in half- my kids love wraps.

    Why Salads

Because they are easy to serve (you don’t have to cook anything and with a tasty dressing, my kids will eat it.

    Other Easy Fruits and Vegetables

  • Bananas
  • (super easy, peel and hand it over or cut into slices- you don’t even have to open a can)

  • Grapes
  • Apple Slices-
  • wash and cut

  • Fresh, Canned or Frozen Fruit
  • - pineapple or mandarin oranges or even apple sauce- open and pour.

  • Carrots
  • - baby carrots or carrot sticks

  • Peas
  • Pineapple with Cottage Cheese
  • Dad’s Playbook is a Website and a soon to be  Book for Dad’s coming out next year. Until then check back regularly for more posts from a Dad’s Perspective.

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