How Much Do We Taste?

November 28, 2016

Multi Generation Family Celebrating With Christmas Meal

The holidays are often filled with once-a-year special smells and tastes. How much do we truly taste, enjoy and appreciate? How often do we leave a table feeling satisfied instead of uncomfortably full? As educators, parents, caretakers and others with links to kids (KidLinks), one of the best ways we can help kids build healthy habits is through mindful eating. Mindful eating is being aware of what we are eating…the taste and smell…the way it feels in our mouth…and if it is pleasantly taking away the hunger and making us feel comfortably full. In our fast-paced world, we lose sight of things like whether or not we really feel full and what we are enjoying.

Encourage kids and families to practice mindful eating during the holidays. Slowing down, turning off our “screens” and taking smart portions are the beginning of being in tune with what we are eating. Try this mindful eating experiment yourself. Get a small piece of soft chocolate that is at room temperature. Cut the chocolate in two. Hold your nose and put one piece of chocolate in your mouth. Determine the taste and feel of it. Now for the second piece of chocolate, release your nose and take some time to pay attention to the taste and feel of it. The look, smell, texture and temperature of foods all impact how we enjoy what we eat.

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Small boy and his sister cooking in the kitchen

Let’s review what we know about the benefits of kids in the kitchen. It is a way to:

  • Start the conversation and help kids develop skills, like healthy meal planning, shopping, cooking and clean-up that last a lifetime.
  • Help them feel good about themselves; the delight and pride in making something themselves.
  • Become aware of what to look for on nutrition labels.
  • Learn about food safety.
  • Help them discover the appeal and taste of foods they prepare.

Beyond those great benefits, it is a way to build appeal for healthier choices. It is not hard to imagine how using elements similar to those in art can build appeal for healthier meals. Try the following and add it to your collection of healthier holiday foods.

Blueberry-Pineapple Parfaits

  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 container (8 ounces) fat-free lime-flavored yogurt
  • ¾ cup fresh blueberries
  • ¾ cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • ½ cup granola

In a small bowl, combine the pineapple with half of the yogurt. In small parfait or juice glasses, alternately layer the pineapple-yogurt mixture, blueberries, strawberries and granola. Repeat the layering twice. Top each parfait with a spoonful of yogurt.

Teachable moments:

  • Compare ingredients in the recipe for taste, texture, and color.
  • Discuss how the taste and appearance would change by substituting plain for flavored yogurt.

young family preparing meal in kitchen

In this month’s WOWS Newsletters, we are talking about Taste and Learn. It is another example of Healthy Kids Challenge’s signature Hear-See-Do learning. Learning is enhanced when kids can visualize (see) the message they are hearing and they practice the behavior (do).

Any time you can get kids to help in the kitchen is a great time. Starting with Halloween and through the end of the end of the year, we see a surge in access to sugary holiday sweets! Taste and Learn activities can give a boost to a balanced approach.

Along with cooking, recall the Healthy Kids Challenge Healthy6 for healthful holiday balance:

  • Fruits & Veggies Every Day the Tasty Way! At parties and holiday meals, plan to include and choose fruits and veggies.
  • Breakfast GO Power. Skipping meals to save up before a party isn’t a good strategy. Having a healthy snack before a party can help you eat less.
  • Drink Think. Water is always a great choice.
  • Smart Servings. Eating holiday candies and cookies is okay; just eat smaller portions less often.
  • Active Play Every Day. Turn off the electronics. For healthy balance, do something that gets you moving and that you enjoy for at least an hour every day.

Mix and Learn

November 7, 2016

Happy kids preparing a meal in the kitchen

When it comes to kids, cooking provides one of the best ways for learning about healthy eating without them being aware they are learning! At holiday time, simple mixes make a festive snack and can provide many teachable moments. Try it. You may like it!

If you are a classroom teacher, consider giving the following recipe to room mothers for holiday party preparation rather than having the kids mix it up. However, with teachable moments you can still give kids some touch, smell, taste and learn experiences!

Snack Mix Recipe

4 cups Wheat Chex cereal
4 cups Cheerios
2 cups mini pretzels
6 cups packaged popcorn
1 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
1 cup dried fruit (such as cran-raisin)
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients. Makes approximately 25-¾ cup servings.

Note: Save the Nutrition Facts labels for each ingredient.

Teachable moments:

  1. Identify MyPlate food groups for each ingredient. Discover which ingredient does not belong to any food group.
  2. Look at the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list.
    • Look at each label for the serving size. Use a measuring cup to demonstrate the size.
    • Look at each recipe ingredient for the amount of sugar it contains. (As a reference, four grams of sugar is about 1 teaspoon.) Which ingredients have the most sugar? Look at the recipe and amount of each ingredient in the recipe. Related to healthier balance, ask why the recipe has smaller amounts of dried fruit and chocolate chips than cereal.
    • Find the products with whole grain listed as a first ingredient. Point out that MyPlate encourages us to eat more whole grains.

Elementary Pupils Collecting Healthy Lunch In Cafeteria

Actions to Make a Healthy Difference Everywhere Kids Go

Plan demonstrations of how kids (and adults) can achieve healthy balance everywhere they live learn work and play. This month’s HKC Newsletter, Wednesday WOWS, focuses on interactive demonstration activities connected to:

  • School happenings (National School Lunch Week)
  • Holiday celebrations (Halloween/Fall Festivals)
  • Health fairs
  • The classroom

And the activity ideas can be used for many different places and age groups. They have been used anywhere from libraries to zoos and for pre-school to seniors. For a staff wellness meeting, try this interactive healthy goal setting activity:

Make up puzzles with a healthy message such as “Enjoy a Walk,” “Choose a Variety of Fruit and Veggie Colors,” and “Make Smart Serving Choices.” Create one puzzle for every 4-6 people, each with a different color background to make putting the puzzle together easier. When each person comes into the room, they choose one puzzle piece. At a designated time, have participants find like colors and put their puzzle pieces together to identify the message. If time permits, have each puzzle “group” talk about the message and how they could incorporate it into their day (this activity idea is from the HKC Wellness Solutions Toolkit).

If you are on a school organization group’s wellness council, find ways to role model and include these types of activity in your yearly plans.

Mother and daughter buying fruit together

The American Heart Association recently released recommendations for daily levels of added sugar. The guideline for kids and adolescents is 25 grams, or around 6 teaspoons, daily. For most kids that is a significant, yet worthy, change in their current intake. For perspective, one 12-oz. can of soda has about 10 tsp. of added sugar. A sugar added cereal could have 2-3 tsp. in just ¾ cup.

We all know that all of the holidays at this time of the year, starting with Halloween (or Fall Harvest) celebrations, traditionally run heavy on sweets. Now is a very good time to add options for healthy balance. It is possible to have plenty of fun with activities that keep kids moving and treats with less sugar. Keep in mind that it is all about healthy balance. Celebrations may push the sugar limit a little more than other days of the week, but it doesn’t have to be the traditional sugar overload. Make a change and make a healthy difference!

This week’s Wednesday WOWS Newsletter contains Parent Tips to add healthy balance. Check them out. If you are thinking of using any of the ideas for school parties, refer to your kid’s school wellness policies first.

Help kids connect the happiness of special celebrations with healthy choices.

Fruit and Veggie Snacks

CELEBRATION SNACKS

Popcorn. Low-fat and sprinkle with seasoning.

Parfaits. Low fat yogurt or pudding, fruit, and granola.

Frozen yogurt popsicles. Blenderize low-fat fruited yogurt, berry juice and berries and freeze.

Mini-bagel pizzas. Whole grain bagels halves, pizza sauce, part-skim mozzarella cheese.

Mini waffles. Whole grain frozen waffles, low-fat cream cheese, fruit.

Trail mix. Whole grain low sugar cereals, nuts, seeds, dried fruit.

Fruit kabobs. Alternate seasonal or favorite colors and shapes.

Raw veggies with dip. Different colors, shapes and sizes add appeal.

Chips and salsa. Whole grain chips with veggie or fruit salsa.


CELEBRATION DRINKS

Refreshing, ice cold water

Fruit infused water

Sparkling water with a splash of 100% fruit juice


CELEBRATION ACTIVITIES:

Veggie Taste Testing Fun: Provide familiar raw veggies such as celery, carrot and green pepper sticks, but then provide some unique veggie samples to taste test and rate like sweet potato, jicama, Chinese cabbage, turnips and rhubarb.

Fruit Taste Testing Fun: Provide familiar fresh apple, orange and banana slices, but also include unique fruits like mango, pineapple, berries and star fruit. (Optional: Include dried fruit samples like apricots, cranberries, prunes, and cherries.)

Build your own trail mix: Offer choices of low sugar, whole-grain cereals, seeds or nuts, dried fruits and snack crackers. Kids scoop appropriate serving sizes of their choices into individual plastic baggies.

 

 

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