Last week, I declared my intention to clean up the kids’ diets. Well, I’ve been working on it and it’s going okay. With a few principles in mind (e.g., less sugar, fewer processed foods, better-for-you snacks) I plucked some recipes off of Pinterest, and I’ve been trying to be more mindful about what I’m putting on the table. Here’s a report:
Win: Breaking the Dessert Habit. A few weeks ago we started cutting back on after-dinner treats. It was interesting how many people commented after my last post that they’ve never even considered giving their kids dessert every night. Well, good for you guys, because I was apparently out to lunch on this one! But anyway, I’m pleased to report that it’s not even a big deal. There’s no fussing on the no-sweets nights. They have found other evening snacks (like fruit, yogurt, trail mix, popcorn) to enjoy if needed. With this change alone their sugar consumption has dropped considerably.
Win: Better-for-You Banana Bread. Trying to provide some better options for breakfast, my 10yo N and I baked 100% whole wheat low-in-sugar banana bread from the wonderful 100 Days of Real Food (recipe below). With only 1/4 cup honey it was noticeably less sweet than a typical banana bread (which can have up to a cup of sugar), but still very tasty. 4yo JB and 8yo A gobbled it up. N, who was aware that it was a lower sugar recipe, remarked after his first bite that it wasn’t sweet enough, but then he “got used to it” and in the end he said he enjoyed it. I’ll definitely make it again.
Lose: Deceptive Pizza Bites. For snacks and lunches I found a recipe for protein-rich pizza bites made with a quinoa-based crust on the Super Healthy Kids website, where I’ve found many good ideas and recipes in the past. I am a sucker for mini-foods and these pepperoni-sized morsels came out of the oven looking quite appealing. N eagerly took a bite of one…and promptly threw the remainder in the garbage. After witnessing that decisive action it was surprising that A and JB even wanted to try, but I’m telling you these things were adorable. So A took a bite, made a face like she was going to vomit and very politely placed it back on her plate. When JB declared them to be “yummy” I was excited. Then I noticed that he had only eaten the cheese and sauce off the top. I encouraged another bite. “EWWWW. It’s QUINOA!” he moaned. Mind blown: I had no idea he even knew what quinoa tasted like. But truth be told, it did have a very quinoa-y flavor. I *may* have skipped the very important step of thoroughly rinsing the grain before cooking it. It tasted rather bitter. Oops. I won’t be making these again.
Lose: I got distracted by wheat. Last week, I decided to find some non-wheat alternatives for my carb-loading kids. But I have to admit that in my eagerness to make changes, I led myself astray. It hit me the other night as I was piling pasta made of rice and quinoa onto their plates while a snack bar made with a gluten-free flour mix baked in the oven. It doesn’t make any sense to just switch from one form of processed carbs to another! Wheat and gluten are not the enemy, over-processing is the enemy! I don’t know what made me even buy those things. They don’t need non-wheat pastas and gluten free granola bars. Maybe just some non-pasta dinners and non-bar snacks. I got carried away but I’m back on track now.
Win: I think maybe they’re paying attention. As a dietitian I’m hyper-focused on food, but I never want my kids to obsess about this stuff so I try not to talk about it too much. It’s better to lead by example and hope they are picking up good habits and healthy preferences through their experiences in our home. But, 10yo N has been interested in talking about nutrition, so I’ve shared a few thoughts with him, about how I’d like all of us to be mindful about what we put in our mouths, and about striving to eat more whole foods. A few days ago he told me about an over-the-top smorgasbord of sweets that was offered to the kids at a party in his classroom. There was jello, candy, cookies, AND cupcakes, among other snacks. He says,”I mean, of course I liked eating it, but Mom it was kinda bad. Nobody needs all that stuff!” So he enjoyed the sweets (because he’s a human child) but he recognized that they were superfluous to the point of being unhealthy… Well, it’s not a quinoa pizza bite, but I’ll take it.
Whole Wheat Banana Bread from 100 Days of Real Food
This recipe can be made as a loaf or as muffins. (I made a loaf – if you make muffins adjust the baking time accordingly.) I used my favorite whole wheat flour, Bob’s Red Mill ivory wheat flour, and coconut oil.
2 ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
¼ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup honey
⅓ cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease pan.
- Combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate bowl mix mashed bananas with yogurt, honey, eggs, oil, and vanilla.
- Fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture until blended. Do not overmix.
- Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake large loaf for 40 – 50 minutes or until it comes clean with a toothpick.