Stacey Seybold Hiller, M.S., CCC-SLP is an industry expert in speech, language and feeding skills in children.
It’s time for a new year… time to start your family eating healthy! A few small changes now can make a big difference in the years ahead!
If you are like most people, after the holidays are over, you start to rethink your diet and exercise (or lack thereof). It is harder than ever to keep your children eating healthy. Many foods marketed for children are high in sugar and fat and low in fiber and protein. Even many choices for kids at restaurants and schools fit into this category. The worst culprit is processed foods. These foods tend to be high in fat, sodium, and calories. But, how can you get your family eating better? Try to have more home-cooked meals. Easier said than done, but you have many options now.
Eat more of it!! Broccoli, like all cruciferous vegetables, contains large amounts of sulfur compounds that enhance the ability of the liver to remove toxins from the body. Broccoli is high in Vitamin A and various phytochemicals which may help prevent certain cancers (all this and only 44 calories per cup).
It’s a proven fact: snacking is actually good for you. Done wisely, of course!
The reasons are manifold. For one, snacking puts the kibosh on the extreme hunger that can catapult your family into binging on unhealthy foods. It also prevents blood sugar levels from getting too low and pitching people, big and small alike, into cranky moods. Research also shows that metabolism chugs along more efficiently when we eat small snacks throughout the day.
But the problem can be finding healthy choices. It’s all too easy to grab foods that momentarily halt hunger but do nothing to boost your family’s wellness.
We all know certain foods are healthier than others – for example, we know we should choose an apple over a donut, or a whole wheat sandwich over one made on white bread.
Over 90% of the pumpkins grown in the US are used to make jack o-lanterns – we do that, too, of course, but last year’s bumper crop made us get a little creative in the kitchen: delicious pumpkin pies, pumpkin soup and an amazing pumpkin butter that is incredible when spread on homemade bread.
Pumpkins are rich in carotenoid phytonutrients which give them their beautiful orange color and many of their health benefits.
When I was a child (and much less concerned about how my breath smelled), I used to eat sandwiches all the time made of sliced onions and mayonnaise. I still do this some weekends at the farm when I know it’s just going to be me and the goats. They don’t mind.
Chard, like all leafy greens, has a wealth of valuable nutrients. It promotes digestive health (high in fiber), bone health (high in magnesium), and vision health (high in beta-carotene).
It took 25 years for my taste buds to mature enough to appreciate cooked spinach. Why? Probably they were trying to tell me that raw spinach is the better way to go. Overcooked and canned spinach lose as much as 50% of their nutrients. Spinach is high in Vitamin A (beta-carotene which is good for eye health), Vitamin C and folate. It is an exceptionally good source of iron and calcium; however, spinach also contains oxalic acid which can inhibit the body’s absorption of these nutrients. Absorption of iron can be increased by eating spinach with a fruit or vegetable that contains additional Vitamin C. Baby spinach has all the nutrients of full-grown leaves but lower oxalate levels.
My grandmother made the best cole slaw, but to me one of the best parts of the process was when she would slice me a wedge of cabbage and lightly salt it. It’s a cool, crunchy treat I still enjoy today. Don’t even get me started on the delicious homemade sauerkraut that our wine expert, Ross Wasserman makes each year (check back for that recipe when this year’s cabbage crop is harvested)
Cauliflower, as its name would suggest, is actually a flower. Its coarse green leaves typically cover the head, shielding it from sunlight, prevention the production of chlorophyll which would otherwise make the flower green.