The Best and Easiest Gluten-Free Cookie Recipe Ever

Child obesity is a big problem in the United States.

With the holidays approaching, what can parents do to help their children maintain a healthy weight?

  • Provide healthful snacks: vegetable sticks (carrots, cucumbers, celery); fruit slices (apples, pears, orange sections), cheese cubes, whole-grain crackers.
  • Watch meal portions: for example, make a habit of measuring cereal before you pour it into the bowl (most cereals call for ½ to 1 cup as a serving size); use salad plates instead of dinner plates, especially for young children…you will be less likely to serve too much…this works for adults as well.
  • Keep eating out to a minimum and avoid fast-foods as much as possible: if you make food for your family yourself, you can pass on the additives and preservatives and high sodium content present in most restaurant offerings…and you will probably save money.
  • Make a batch of these nutritious cookies with your child: they are high in fiber, low in sugar, salt and fat…and no preservatives or artificial colors.

OVERNIGHT COOKIES

You will need: 2 egg whites, ¼ cup sugar, 1 cup ground almonds, 1 cup raisins, large bowl, electric mixer and a lightly greased cookie sheet.

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.    Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form.

3.    Add the sugar and mix in.

4.    Add the raisins and the ground almonds and fold in gently but thoroughly.

5.    Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheet.

6.    Bake for 5 minutes.

7.    Turn off oven.

8.    If you like softer cookies, you can remove them from the oven after about 30 minutes.  If you like crispier cookies, you can leave them in for an hour…or overnight.

9.    This recipe makes about 12 – 18 cookies, depending on the size you drop onto the cookie sheet.

 

What a fun recipe to prepare with your child during this holiday season!  You could even make several batches and give some away as gifts.  Cooking with children is a super learning activity…science (how do the runny egg whites change when you beat them), math (fractions, counting), better pre-literacy skills (reading the labels of the egg carton, bag of sugar, etc.).  Best of all, cooking with kids is one of the best ways to strengthen the parent-child connection and build their self-esteem as they master tasks and skills.

Please visit the Show Me How website where you can find out more about the book that provides many more quick and easy cooking activities for kids along with simple arts and crafts activities and story summaries of the 100 picture books every young child should hear.

The book has received praise from many mom and dad bloggers as well as picture book authors and self-esteem experts. http://areelcoolsummer.blogspot.com/2011/08/five-gold-stars-for-show-me-how.html

The New Year is almost here…make a resolution to spend 15 minutes a day, reading or crafting or cooking with your young child…the positive impact it will have on your child cannot be measured. 

Protecting Our Children from Corporate Marketing

I think this must be MY pumpkin!

How do you make your buying decisions?

Many factors probably go into the final decision about which car to purchase, what brand of spaghetti to grab from the store shelf, how many rolls of toilet paper to keep on hand in the closet.  You might do research online when it comes to purchasing a car.  You might ask a friend who has a reputation as a great cook which spaghetti she uses.  You might figure out how much you will save if you buy the twenty-four roll pack as opposed to the four-roll pack.

One of the most influential factors in determining what we buy is corporate marketing.

Companies spend TRILLIONS of dollars to convince us to buy their products.

And, ever since the 1950’s, corporations have been marketing to children.  However, their efforts have exploded in the last decade and I believe our children are at risk because of it.

  • Corporate marketing is ONLY concerned with the bottom line…SELL MORE AT GREATER PROFITS AT ANY COST!  Our children are bombarded with commercials on TV, radio, magazines and the internet for biggie-sized food and fast-food meals with toys.  Companies donate computer equipment to schools and infiltrate the classrooms with their branding messages.  Juvenile diabetes, obesity and many attention deficit and hyperactive disorders in children are rising at a staggering rate.  Life expectancy of today’s children will be lower than that of their parents, even though our medical technology is at its highest level ever.  Is there a correlation between corporate marketing and these problems?
  • Corporate marketing is strongly GENDER DISCRIMINATING.  If you watch commercials geared for young children, you will notice that boys are supposed to be strong, tough and ready to fight while girls are portrayed as pretty and sexy.  Years ago there were many measures taken in the schools to educate teachers so they would respond to boys and girls on a fair and equal basis, encouraging girls to sign up for math and science classes and requiring boys to take home economics.  Obviously, the companies that are looking to sell their products have other ideas in mind and they have reverted to the old ways.
  • Corporate marketing is attempting to turn our young children into life-long super-consumers who are shallow and are only concerned about themselves and getting the things they want.  Most parents don’t realize the effect that all this branding and marketing has on young children.

Do you agree that this is a problem?

Do you feel parents need to protect their children from corporate marketing?

And if you do, what can we do? 

  • Perhaps we can turn off the TV.  That would be a start, but not the entire answer because the messages are on the internet, in the schools, in magazines…everywhere.  If you are looking for ideas of what to do with your young children after the TV has been turned off, there are 100’s of fun-filled, educational, self-esteem building activities in Show Me How!  This award-winning resource is available as a print book with lots of lined spaces for recording your child’s highlights or on Amazon’s Kindle.
  • Perhaps we also need to say “no” when our children come to ask for a particular toy or food if we feel it is not good for them.
  • Perhaps we can be good role models when it comes to not buying excess stuff or things that are not healthy for us. 
  • Perhaps we can encourage our children to reach out, helping and giving to others.  If you are looking for ideas along those lines, you can check out www.kidsareheroes.org, an organization devoted to spotlighting and supporting children who help others.

Please share your thoughts.

Children and Art Activities: Some Observations

Once a month, our local Family Christian Store hosts the Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian program.  I read a picture book story and do a related craft project, chosen from those recommended in my book.  This is the same program that I provide to District 11 kindergartens and Pre-K’s during the school year.

Yesterday, the program’s topic was: How to Stay Healthy This School Year.  I read Stan and Jan Berenstain’s, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food.  In the story, Mama Bear realizes that the bear cubs and her husband are eating too many sweet and junky snacks.  She removes the junk food from the pantry and refrigerator and the entire family goes grocery shopping the next day where they purchase healthy foods: vegetables and fruits, whole grain breads and cereals and eggs, cheese and milk.  They go to their family doctor for a check-up and she tells them that if they want to stay in good health, in addition to eating healthy foods, they should exercise every day.  Taking the doctor’s advice, the bears begin a program of daily exercise.  At the end of the summer, they win a prize for being the only family to finish the entire Bear Country Three-Mile Run.

After the story was over, the children eagerly moved to the tables for the craft project.  Each child got a paper plate, 2 small black circles for eyes and 1 small black circle for a nose.  Although we all started out intending to make bear faces, two of the children decided to make dog faces and one child made his paper plate into a cat.  After gluing on the eyes and nose, each child used markers and crayons to add features and designs to the paper plate face.  For over an hour, the children happily worked on their projects…the only frowns I saw on these children were when parents came to say it was time to go.  Parents were able to take home an informational flyer, Five Simple Steps to Stay Healthy This School Year.

OBSERVATION #1:

If you give children art supplies and a project to work on, they will be engaged and productive and happy.

OBSERVATION #2:

If you allow children a certain amount of freedom when they are engaged in art activities, they will almost always surprise you with their creativity.

OBSERVATION #3:

Children often become very talkative when they are happily engaged in arts and crafts…this is a PERFECT time for parents to listen and interact with their children.

So, I have a few questions to ask if you are a parent or caretaker of a child age 2-7:

  • Would you like to put educational, fun-filled activities in your child’s day?
  • Do you need tips on school readiness for your child?
  • Are you time-short when it comes to planning activities for your child?
  • Do you wonder which books to choose to read to your child?
  • Would you like to have a simple plan to follow on rainy days…or any day?
  • Do you want your child to be engaged in positive learning on a daily basis?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions:

  • Purchase a copy of the award-winning Show Me How!.
  •  The low price (50% off) is only available on my website.
  • This is a perfect holiday gift for anyone who takes care of young children.
  • Schools and other organizations can receive additional discounts.

A book is a child’s window on the world…no rules, just read!

THE BOOK PINPOINTS 100 OF THE BEST PICTURE BOOK STORIES!

Children who love books step out from inside the covers and succeed in life!

THE BOOK PROVIDES 100 STORY SUMMARIES & TIPS ON HOW TO READ TO KIDS!

Art & children…peanut butter & jelly…combinations that create magic!

THE BOOK OFFERS 100 SIMPLE CRAFT PROJECTS & 100 EASY RECIPES!

We all need a cheering committee…a parent is a child’s most important fan!

THE BOOK GIVES 100 PARENTING TIPS ON BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM!

Want to be in your children’s memories tomorrow?  Be in their lives today!

THE BOOK SHOWS YOU HOW POSITIVE PARENTAL PARTICIPATION WORKS!

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by…with gift-giving holidays right around the corner, we are excited to provide Show Me How! at 50% off the cover price.  Parents, expectant parents, grandparents, preschool and nursery teachers, babysitters…this is a gift that will keep on giving long after the package is opened.  Please visit my website to purchase a copy for yourself or as a gift for someone special!   When you purchase a copy, you are helping others…a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book benefits three children’s organizations: http://www.JDRF.org, http://www.bessthebookbus.org and http://www.kidsareheroes.org.

Five Simple Steps for a Healthier School Year


 Your child is going to school.  As a parent, what can you do to make it the healthiest year ever?

Perhaps your child is a preschooler and will be attending a daycare or nursery school.  Maybe your child is already in elementary school.  Here are five simple steps that may keep your child from getting sick.

  1. Wash hands often: everyone should have their own towel…perhaps a different color for each member of the family.  This helps colds from spreading like wild-fires!
  2. Dress appropriately: when it is cold, children should be dressed warmly, with hats or hoods on their heads…no ifs, ands or buts!
  3. Get enough sleep: young children need LOTS of sleep so set up bedtime routines and stick to them.  Our body renews and cells regenerate during sleep.  Did you know that children between the ages of 2 and 5 need 11-14 hours of sleep?  For more information about sleep and young children, you can go to: http://www.sleepforkids.org/html/sheet.html.
  4. Make every meal and snack count:  a good breakfast is a MUST and snacks can provide additional important nutrition, especially for picky eaters.  For more ideas on healthy meal planning for the whole family, you can visit: http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/healthy_eating/habits.html
  5. Keep a sick child home: I know it is difficult, especially when parents work…but your child will get better sooner and the teacher and the other children in the class will thank you.  With these tips, your children may stay healthy this school year and you won’t have to keep them home.

On September 24th, the Show-Me-How with Miss Vivian program will be at Family Christian Store, 7165 North Academy Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO.  There will be one presentation from 12 to 12:45pm.  I’ll be reading Johnny Lion’s Bad Day to the parents and children and then we will all make Paper Plate Lions.  This program is appropriate for children from two to seven years old.  In addition, there will be a flyer for parents to take home about staying healthy this school year.  I hope we will have a good turn-out…please spread the word and tweet this and post to Facebook…maybe some of your followers are local to Colorado Springs.

SAVE THE DATE

STAYING HEALTHY

THIS SCHOOL YEAR!

SHOW-ME-HOW STORY-TIME PROGRAM

Saturday, September 24, 2011

12 to 12:45pm

Family Christian Store: 7165 N. Academy

719-598-1500 to RSVP

  • Bring your young children and listen to a story
  • Help your child make a simple craft project
  • Get a free flyer: Have a Healthier School Year

Vivian Kirkfield is a local author, former kindergarten and Head Start teacher and mom of three. Her parenting program and award-winning activity book for ages 2-7, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, has helped thousands of parents build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a stronger parent-child connection.

For more information: 719-237-3111 or vivian@positiveparentalparticipation.com

Five Ways to Ease Your Eyes from Screen Strain

Family watching television, c. 1958

Image via Wikipedia

Did you know that 70% of Americans suffer from computer vision syndrome?

CVS happens when you stare at the computer for too long.

I discovered some valuable insight into this problem from Eye Care magazine published by HealthMonitor.

This type of “near work” strains the muscles in your eyes that focus on near objects and you also tend to blink less, which can dry out eyes.

Symptoms include blurry vision, headaches and strained, dry or tired eyes.

According to eye specialists, there are five simple steps that can help alleviate this.

1.     Follow the two-foot rule: sit about 25 inches away from your computer and tilt the screen to so you look down on your work.

2.     Get rid of the glare: glare from overhead lighting and the sun can reflect off your screen…this contributes to eye strain.  Dim the lights around your workspace and use shades or curtains to avoid direct light.  You could also try an attachable anti-glare screen for your computer.

3.     Take breaks: follow the 20-20-20 rule…every 20 minutes, look 20 feet across the room for at least 20 seconds.  In this way you will be activating your distance vision.  Blink often and take mini-breaks away from your desk.  Close your eyes briefly and practice deep breathing which also helps relax the eye muscles.

4.     Check your prescription: if you or your children wear glasses, make sure the prescription is up-to-date.  Eyes do change and it is important to see your eye doctor on a yearly basis, especially if you wear glasses.  If you or your children are having eye problems whether you wear glasses or not, please make an appointment…our eyes are so precious and they are not replaceable.

5.     Moisturize: staring at a computer screen, especially in an air-conditioned room, can lead to dry eyes.  Use artificial tears or a desktop humidifier and remember the 20-20-20 rule…look away and blink.

Many of us do lots of close work and when you add up the time children spend reading books and doing homework assignments, playing or working on the computer or other electronic devices and watching TV, you’ll agree that it’s really important for them to follow these simple steps as well.

Now that school is starting, many preschoolers will be left at home without older brothers or sisters to play with them.  If you’d like to provide great activities for your young child (other than sitting in front of a TV or computer monitor), please visit my websitewhere you can purchase a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking at 50% off the cover price.  This award-winning resource for busy parents will provide you with 100 picture book story suggestions and summaries and gives you an eco-friendly craft activity and a child-friendly recipe for each recommended title…FRESH IDEAS FOR A NEW SCHOOL YEAR!  BTW, it’s also available on Kindle!

Are Electronics Hurting Your Child’s Eyes?

WHR's computers

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I had an eye doctor appointment.

As I sat in the waiting room, I noticed a small magazine entitled “Eye Care”.

It’s published by HealthMonitor.com and is packed full of valuable articles and information.

I know that many parents wonder about any dangerous effects that electronics…and their children’s use of things like mobile phones, iPads, 3-D handheld video games and laptops…might have.

Are electronics dangerous to your child’s eyes?

According to Dr. Benjamin Ticho, a pediatric ophthalmologist and associate professor at the University of Illinois:

There are no studies showing permanent or long-lasting visual damage from these types of devices.

But are there any temporary problems that can crop up from staring at portable game devices, surfing online or watching TV for prolonged periods of time?

The answer to this is YES!  Strain, fatigue and dry or scratchy eyes can result from doing anything up close where our eyes are doing too many things: focusing, coordinating and moving close together…this can cause the eye muscles to get tired.

What can parents do to help avoid this?

  • Put a daily time limit on electronic devices.
  • Remind your child to get up frequently while engaged in a task or game.
  • Encourage your child to participate in outdoor activities or sports each day.
  • Use time playing video games or going on the computer as a reward for completing homework…that will insure that eyes are tired out before homework is done.

Tomorrow I’m going to share: 5 Ways to Treat Screen Strain…for all of you out there who blog. 

Some MoreThoughts on Healthy Eating…for Summer-time and Beyond

Small child with head down on highchair.

Image via Wikipedia

As parents, we are responsible for what our children eat…at least when they are little.

We plan the meals, shop for the ingredients, prepare the food and serve it.

So every young child should be eating a healthy balanced diet, right?

Unfortunately, many young children are NOT eating a healthy balanced diet because:

  • Many parents didn’t have a healthy diet themselves as children and don’t really know what to serve!
  • The media overloads us with commercials about fast food and sugary desserts!
  • Young children can be fussy about eating and concerned parents just want them to eat SOMETHING!

Here are some simple steps parents can take to help:

1.     Plan regular meal-times…if children know they can get something to eat at any time of the day or night, they will not be motivated to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And having family meals together provides so many other emotional and social benefits as well. 

2.     Snacks are important additions to a young child’s daily food intake… provide nutritious ones like veggie sticks dipped in hummus, cheese cubes with whole grain crackers and fruit slices in yogurt.

3.     Serve small portions…young children can be overwhelmed when a plate piled with food is put in front of them…for instance, if your child is having a sandwich, cut it in quarters and serve one quarter at a time.

4.     Use your imagination to make meals pleasing to the eye…attractive plates and servings arranged in an interesting way…for example, a small bowl of spaghetti with two meatballs for the eyes, a steamed baby carrot for the nose and several steamed green beans for the smile.  What fun!  You can always add a new “nose” and new “smile” when your child finishes the first ones.   Or how about using cookie cutters to make interesting shapes of sandwiches?

5.     Avoid processed foods as much as possible…they are usually filled with salt, sugar, preservatives and artificial colors and flavors.  When your children become accustomed to these, they can lose their appreciation for the flavor and goodness of wholesome natural foods.

There are many websites that can help with nutrition information and meal planning.

http://nutritiondata.self.com/

http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=4&tax_level=1

http://www.mealsmatter.org/

http://www.healthy-eating-made-easy.com/healthy-meal-planning.html

For more meal-planning tips, fresh ideas and simple recipes that your children can help prepare, you can get a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking…now on sale for 50% off the cover price on my website.  For only $22.50, you will have 100 child-friendly recipes, 100 arts and crafts activities and 100 picture book summaries that all build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a life-long parent-child bond.  Did you know that this great resource is also a memory book…with lined spaces on every other page for you to record your child’s highlights?