Nimali Fernando, MD is a local pediatrician and mom who is passionate about teaching families about feeding kids nutritious foods. Follow her blog to find out about local healthy food finds for kids, recipes, and how to make feeding kids an enriching family experience. You can also check out her website, doctoryum.com for more great ideas on feeding children healthy foods.
Sugar is everywhere! The modern American child gets more sugar than ever. Consider that the American Heart Association recommends that children age 4-8 years get no more than three "added" teaspoons of sugar per day. One flavored yogurt can have four teaspoons and a breakfast tart can have five teaspoons of added sugar. That's three times the recommended amount of added sugar by breakfast! It's no surprise the average American 4-8 year-old child gets a whopping 21 teaspoons of added sugar per day! With more and more sugar creeping into nearly every processed food, it's up to us as parents to be mindful of how much sugar our kids are taking in.
That being said, we really need to reevealuate the idea that juice is a "healthy" beverage for kids. With few nutrients, NO fiber, and a HUGE bomb of fructose that goes straight to the liver, juice is just adding insult to injury. When parents of my pediatric patients ask me, "When can my child start drinking juice?" I usually say, "Hopefully never!" Most children would not be able to eat four apples in one sitting. But that is approximately how many apples it takes to make a cup of apple juice. And with no fiber to signal how full they are, kids can easily suck down juice box after juice box, getting calorie after empty fructose calorie.
So when it comes counseling on what kids should drink, my new mantra is: "Milk with meals and water between meals." Simple enough, right?
"But my child doesn't like water? And neither do I, frankly" is how many parents respond to my mantra. Hmm...seems like what they really mean is their child was never TAUGHT to drink water and was frequently offered juice and other sweet drinks and now prefers NOT to drink water.
Here's my alternative solution. This works for adults and kids alike-INFUSED FRUIT WATER.
It's simple: Take a pitcher. Place slices of your favorite fruit in it, and fill the pitcher with water. Chill in the fridge and let the water become infused with the fruit. Voilà, you have a refreshing, ALL-NATURAL, virtually sugar-free beverage! I have recommended fruit water to many of my patients and their families and have been able to convert them into water lovers. There are so many great combinations of fruit water that you can try, and summer is a great time to get started, with so many of our favorite fruits in season. You can purchase a fancy water infuser pitcher, but I use a simple glass pitcher. The top has a small pouring spout, so the fruit stays in when I pour the water out. I usually change the fruit every 2-3 days as the flavor fades.
Here are a couple of examples of fruit water we have made recently. If you search online you can find many other fruit water "recipes" with other herbs like lemongrass, sage or rosemary and fruits like watermelon, kiwi, and pineapple. Have fun, and and drink up in a healthy way!
To learn more about the benefits of drinking water, read my post, "What's Wrong with Water". To find more information on our kid-tested recipes and classes offered by The Doctor Yum Project visit doctoryum.com.
Today I had the honor of interviewing Rachael Ray, the popular cooking personality first made famous by her TV show "30 Minute Meals." She also is a host of her own Daytime Emmy winning television show, author of almost two dozen cookbooks and her popular magazine "Every Day with Rachael Ray." Her business empire is impressive, but more impressive is her list of charity work including one project close to my heart, Yum-O. This nonprofit organization was started by Rachael Ray with a mission of empowering kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food. Furthermore, I believe that she has helped families accross America deliver healthy, home-cooked meals to the table by making cooking seem easy and approachable.
As a pediatrician now beginning the challenge of starting a nonprofit which hopes to battle the Childhood Obesity epidemic by teaching families to cook and eat healthier, I was excited to hear Rachael Ray's thoughts about her nonprofit work. I was also excited to hear her thoughts about cooking with kids. Rachael Ray was in town to promote her book My Year in Meals, a unique cookbook which reads like a journal of the food and cocktails that she and her husband personally prepared and ate over the course of a year. However, when I showed up with her kids cookbook "Yum-O!" to autograph, she was exited to see that I had purchased it.
Rachael Ray: Thanks for purchasing my book Yum-O! You know, all the proceeds go to my charity, Yum-O!
Dr. Yum: Yes, I know! I would like to talk to you about your nonprofit and what you are doing with it.
Rachael Ray: Yes, we have many arms of our nonprofit. One is to educate families about cooking and give people tools and resources to get started in the kitchen. The other is to help irradicate hunger. The third is to fund cooking education and scholarships for public school children.
Dr. Yum: Any advice for a nonprofit like the Doctor Yum Project that is just starting out?
Rachael Ray: You have to make healthy food sound as cool as the unhealthy food. Come up with cool catchy names for good food that uses whole grains and lots of veggies. Make it fun! Get kids involved with cooking. It will build their self-worth.
Dr. Yum:What advice do you have for parents trying to feed their kids healthy food at the end of a busy day?
Rachel Ray: Get the prep work done ahead of time! Prep vegetables ahead of time. Use bagged salad. Get kids involved and helping.
Dr. Yum: How important do you think it is for parents to cook with their their kids?
Rachael Ray: ESSENTIAL!! Cooking with kids is empowering. It makes them feel important and gives them self-esteem!
To learn more about Rachael Ray's nonprofit visit Yum-o.org
To learn about The Doctor Yum Project, a nonprofit started this year in the Fredericksburg area visit doctoryumproject.org. Our mission is to reduce the rates of Childhood Obesity and Diet-related illness by partnering with families to raise children who eat a whole food diet.
The Doctor Yum Project, our new nonprofit, is excited to announce our fall Cooking Class for kids age 7-12. Class starts Tuesday October 16th at 4:00pm and runs for 4 weeks. Kids learn to prepare seasonal plant-based recipes. Class is generously hosted at St. George's Episocopal Church in downtown Fredericksburg.
Check out the video from our pilot class to see what it's all about.
In celebration of FredParent's KIDtoberfest I prepared some German-inspired, kid-friendly recipes. I found both recipes online but "doctored" them with a few healthy substitutions and additions. German Apple pancakes make a great breakfast recipe, and even works as a dessert or snack. Meatball surprise is meatball on the outside, but has a surprising brussel sprout center!
BAKED GERMAN APPLE PANCAKE
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large apple, cored and cut into thin slices
In a large bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Whisk in the eggs, then the milk. Add melted butter and vanilla. Set batter aside for 30 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees. On the stove, melt the butter in a large 10-inch cast-iron or oven-safe skillet over low heat, and use a brush or paper towel to coat the sides of the pan.
Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup of brown sugar with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle over the bottom of the prepared skillet and then place apple slices on top, lining the skillet.. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of brown sugar over the apples. Turn up the heat to medium for 1-3 minutes until brown sugar starts to bubble and apple start to get warm. Remove pan from heat and pour batter gently over the apples. Place in oven for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 375 degrees and bake for 5-10 more minutes. Pancake should be golden brown and cooked through. Loosen from the skillet with a spatula, slice and serve warm.
2 pounds ground turkey (or beef)
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon flaxmeal
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 package frozen brussels sprouts
28 oz. tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine first 8 ingredients. Take 3-4 tablespoons of meat mixture and shape it around a brussels sprout. Place each meatball in a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray until all meat has been used. Cover meatballs with tomato sauce (if you use a thick sauce you may dilute it with several tablespoons of water first). Loosely cover with foil and bake for 1 to 1½ hours until baked through.
Last summer a good friend of mine gave me the MOST delicious peaches I had ever eaten in my life. Grocery store peaches were like cardboard compared to these sweet-like-candy, fragrant, juicy fruits. It turns out these peaches came from Hartland Orchard in Markam, VA, about one and a half hours northwest of Fredericksburg. A year later, I finally got to pick some of these beauties myself. Yesterday we packed the kids and took off on a rare family weekday off. It could not have been a more beautiful day either. Just off of exit 18 on I-66 West (about 5 miles west of Rt. 17) Hartland is easy to find and well worth the drive.
We were surprised to find that there were still pick-your-own blueberries, blackberries and raspberries in addition to rows and rows of the prettiest peaches we ever saw. We started up in the peach orchard and found that we barely had to take a step before our bags were full of peaches. Once we had more peaches than we could carry, we stopped down at the berry picking areas, and spent more time combing the bushes for the sweetest ones. The kids hit the lower branches while I reached the ones on top. It took a little persistence to fill up our boxes with berries, but with the whole family working together we got it done.
As some of you may know, I'm a huge fan of buying local produce whenever possible. I can say that our Hartland experience was another great lesson on how local, fresh ingredients can make all the difference when exposing kids to new foods. My kids may never eat a grocery store peach again!
There are a few more weeks of peach picking at Hartland, but they do suggest calling ahead. To get more information, visit their website: http://www.hartlandorchard.com/
Taste Oil Vinegar Spice is a brand-new business in downtown Fredericksburg that features a wide selection of oils from around the world and Italian infused vinegar which would dazzle any foodie. Owners George Farrar and Jan Davis first encountered the concept of tasting quality oils in their travels to France and Italy. Later, they encountered a shop in Bar Harbor, Maine that sold both vinegar and oils. At that time this husband and wife team were both commuting up to five hours a day for their consulting jobs. “We are both foodies,” Farrar says, and describes how he and his wife decided to open a store in the Fredericksburg area after finding the same distributor that served the Bar Harbor store they had visited.
They opened their first store in downtown Culpeper in October 2011. “At the Culpeper store we found a huge customer base from Fredericksburg,” says Farrar. One month ago the Fredericksburg location opened at 915 Caroline Street, next to the “Soup and Taco” restaurant. The store has two large rows of stainless steel tanks called “fusti” with taps for dispensing. Atop each fusti sits several tiny disposable plastic cups meant for tasting the different flavors.
The oils are imported from around the globe. During this season many oils come from the Northern Hemisphere, including Italy, Spain and Portugal. In the fall some of the Southern Hemisphere oils, from Argentina and Chile will enter the store. The seventeen or balsamic vinegars, like pomegranate, cherry, dark chocolate and apricot all come from Modena, Italy. The store has suggested “pairings” of oils and vinegars that can be enjoyed together.
Farrar wants his customers to know that most people have not had such fresh, high quality oils, and that the taste really is remarkable. He also wants his customers to understand that kids are encouraged to come in and sample. I have taken my kids to both locations, where they have been invited to sample the selections. I let my kids pick a bottle of their favorites, and we have been enjoying them on salads and in marinades. “I love when the kids try. They may not like everything, and that’s okay. At least they are trying," says Farrar.
Here is a way we used an apricot balsamic vinegar to dress up veggie kabobs. We called it “Summer Marinated Veggie Kabobs”. We picked up most of the veggies, including the purple cauliflower at the Spotsylvania Farmer’s market. You can definitely substitute your favorite veggies.
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup apricot balsamic vinegar
dash of salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
Handful of chopped herbs like Rosemary, basil, mint, thyme
1 cup rough chopped cauliflower
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cups whole mushrooms (cut in half if they are oversized)
½ -1 zucchini sliced ¼ inch thick
½ -1 yellow squash sliced ¼ inch thick
Mix oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs in a jar, shaking until well-mixed. Place veggies in a bowl and pour marinade on top. Marinate 20-30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Place on wooden or metal skewers. Grill over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes on each side until barely brown, and slightly soft (I like my veggies to still have a little bite to them). Serve warm.
For more kid-tested recipes, visit doctoryum.com.
I am pleased to announce the debut of our newest “Play with Your Plate” kids menu at Baba Ganoush in the Eagle Village in Fredericksburg, VA. Baba Ganoush opened in August 2011, and is owned by Sanaullah Shaihk and his wife, Rebekah Cousins-Shaikh. Sanaullah, a native of Pakistan, and Rebekah, an American from Pennsylvania wanted to open a restaurant with the the same quality and love in the food as what they make at home. Both are well-educated with children and their own professional careers. Despite their lack of experience in the restaurant business Sanaullah (known as Sana) says, “My wife really enjoys my cooking and encouraged me to start the restaurant.” The menu features Mediterranean and Indian Cuisine. The chef prepares many family recipes and uses whole spices ground on site, not spice blends. Naan bread, a flat bread popular in South Asian cuisine, is made fresh in a tandoori clay oven as you order it.
Sana approached me to help him design a kids menu that would appeal to a wide audience of kids. As soon as I tasted the food at Baba Ganoush and felt the care and pride with which it was prepared, I knew the kids menu could be WONDERFUL.
We designed the menu options so that everyone from the pickiest toddler to the most adventurous 10 year-old could find something they like. A cheese pizza and “Peanut Butter and Jelly Pinwheels” are familiar tastes made on fresh Naan bread. A mildly spiced “Kiddie Chicken Curry” and Chicken Kabob are great introductions to some Eastern spices. These selections come with a healthy side dish choice of raw veggies with hummus, a fruit kabob, or small green salad with house dressing.
The highlight of the menu is the “Kids Adventure Platter” which is a sampling of Mediterranean and Indian foods like chicken kabob, hummus, naan bread,stuffed grape leaves and salad. The Adventure Platter is a great option for kids with a big appetite and an adventurous spirit.
There are also kid-sized portions of traditional desserts like baklava and “carrot delight,” a sweet carrot and almond dessert.
Artist Ashleigh Buyers, an art student at Mary Washington University, designed an exciting activity placemat for the new kids menu. She incorporated some ideas like an elephant with “chick” peas flying around it and a connect-the-dots activity in the shape of the Taj Mahal.
The folks at Fredericksburg Parent and Family Magazine and I are incredibly proud of this kids menu. Baba Ganoush now joins Foode, The Trolley Stop Deli, and the Capital Ale House in the list of “Play with Your Plate” restaurants with menus that are “kid-tested and pediatrician approved!” We hope Sana and his staff at Baba Ganoush can show the children of Frederickburg how delicious food from India and the Middle East is. Bring your food passports, and he will give them a stamp too!
Over the past two or three years I have noticed a strange phenomenon. Although my kids are growing and eating more, and we are eating more nutritious foods every year, my weekly grocery bill are getting less expensive. It’s strange! I’m doing so many things that I’m told should cost me more. I am buying more local food. I’m buying more organic food. We are trying a larger variety of foods as the kids' tastes get more adventurous. So why is the weekly tab shrinking? Here are five reasons I came up with:
1) I make a list. I have a list that I print of my usual staples and I check off what I need throughout the week. Every Saturday morning I figure out what I am making for the week and add special items to my list. On Sunday when I go to the grocery store, I am armed with a list that allows me to purchase those good high-quality foods and no more. In short, I waste less when I have a list. Click here to see my post on making a list which includes a downloadable copy of the list I use.
2) I buy local. At our local market the produce prices are very reasonable. Every Saturday after I make my lists, I buy everything I can from the farmers market. Not only does the food taste better, it lasts longer because it’s been picked in the past 24 hours, rather than traveling a week from a different time zone! Two weeks ago we picked almost 40 pounds of apples from a local orchard. These will last for weeks in the fridge, and we have made homemade applesauce, apple butter, dried apples and more.
3) I buy in bulk. This means buying oats out of the bulk bins and not the box. I buy large tubs of yogurt instead of single servings. Packaging costs extra money. Why pay for it if you are not going to eat it!
4) I buy less processed food. Processed food, for the most part, costs more. A store-bought granola bar costs 2-3 times what a homemade one does. As I make more homemade versions of store-bought food, my grocery bill shrinks. Popsicles, granola, muffins, cookies, and soups are all examples of things I used to buy but now make. I’m also skipping a lot of preservatives, additives, dyes extra salt and sweeteners. Click here to see my easy recipe for Granola Bars with Chocolate Chips and Cherries.
5) I buy less store bought drinks. I used to store up on drink boxes and pouches for the kids to share when they had friends over. I would buy cartons of juice for breakfast, which I often had to throw away when they expired. My kids now drink water and organic milk and don’t seem to miss all the juice. My husband has kicked his diet soda habit, too (almost). I used to buy a vitamin-enhanced water, but stopped about a year ago. Water out of the tap is just about free, and has zero calories!
How do you save money at the grocery store?
For more ideas on feeding children nutritious food and for lots of recipes that are "Kid-tested and Pediatrician Approved" visit doctoryum.com.
This year for the first time my family joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA is a great way to support local farms and experience fresh, seasonal local produce. Snead's Farm (located on Rt. 17 just past Belvedere Plantation) has offered a CSA program which runs for 16 weeks from May to September, with one fall and winter delivery. The basic principle is that a family joins a farm for the season by buying a share, and for 16 weeks they receive a portion of the farm’s harvest. This is a great way to experience seasonal produce and try some items that you might not normally buy. Because the offerings can be quite large, I divided a share with my good friend.
The first week we received radishes, among other items, in our CSA box. This is something I would not normally buy. After trying them, my son now claims he LOVES them (see our video on trying radishes). Last month we even planted radishes in our own garden! Throughout the summer Snead's provided us with some wonderful produce, from berries to greens, squash to eggplant, melons to corn (there was a LOT of corn in the middle of the summer!) Of course, we got bunches of asaparagus (their specialty). Last week I picked up my fall delivery which consisted of several carving and heirloom pumpkins, collard and kale greens, raspberries, apples, turnips, and tomatoes. This December CSA members will even get a Christmas Tree!
Considering the variety and amount of produce we enjoyed, I would say that the CSA offered by Sneads is definitely a great value. It is also fun to get to know the farm and experience a sense of community by visiting every week and seeing the same people picking up their CSA boxes. On several days when I would pick up, I would see families with a packed lunch just enjoying the farm before taking their boxes home. In my Pediatrics practice I try to stress the importance of including enough plant foods in children’s diets. Joining a CSA one great way to get the kids eating more of those kinds of foods.
To learn more about Snead’s Farm CSA, and to see a detailed list of their offerings for this entire season, visit their website. They are now taking applications for their 2012 season, with a 10% discount for those who sign up before November 1. This is a great time of year to visit the farm for pumpkin picking and other fall activities.
To read more about feeding kids nutritious foods, visit my blog doctoryum.com.
This is a super easy tomato sauce that uses fresh summer ingredients. Blend tomatoes, herbs, and other veggies to make a smooth sauce that can be eaten right out of the blender (some of the high power blenders like the Blendtec and Vitamix will blend sauces until they are slightly warmed). If you have time, simmer the sauce and the flavors and color will get even more rich. The more the sauce is simmered the better it gets. If you want chunky sauce, then chop some veggies separately and add to blended sauce when it's simmering.
2 pounds tomatoes, cut in half with many of the seeds "punched" out
1 onion, rough chop
3-4 cloves garlic
1 carrot chopped or 5 baby carrots
half a zucchini, rough chop
1- 2 handfuls of herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil)
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. sugar (optional) small pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
Place tomatoes in blender and puree about 1 minute (on Blendtec use the "sauce" setting). Place other ingredients in and blend again until smooth. Serve immediately, or for cooked sauce, simmer on "low" in a pot with lid on for 1-2 hours. Season with salt and pepper as needed