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?

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Colorado Springs PBS Kids Fun Fest at Acacia Park

Hundreds of happy children and their parents turned out for the Southern Colorado Rocky Mountain PBS Kids Fun Fest on Saturday, June 11th at Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs. 

With music and entertainment on the bandstand and Clifford the Big Red Dog and Curious George in costume, Acacia Park came alive.  It was also the official opening of the Uncle Wilbur Fountain that many children enjoy during the hot summer days.

I was thrilled to be partnering with PBS and even before the event got underway, early visitors stopped by to check out the SHOW ME HOW table.  Almost 70 parents filled out an entry for the free craft supply kit…and the winner is…Dawn!!!  I’ll be emailing her today to let her know she is the lucky winner!

Many of the participants at the Fun Fest offered activities for the children…at the Show Me How! table, we were crafting Curious George paper plate faces and Clifford the Big Red Dog headbands with doggy ears.  Easy enough for a very young child to do and so much fun…using inexpensive materials that parents already have around the house…paper, crayons or markers, a paper plate, scissors and glue.  Hundreds of happy children walked away proudly wearing their Clifford headbands and waving their Curious George paper plate faces.

It was amazing to see how much the children enjoyed these simple art activities.  Even though my book is geared for children ages 2 to 5, many of the older children sat down and eagerly began decorating their headbands or paper plate faces.  Just because the headband was for Clifford the Big Red Dog didn’t mean that the children had to color it red.  In fact, there were many rainbow headbands and others with detailed designs.  One child decided that his Curious George paper plate face needed to be a frog instead of a monkey and so he used green markers to color it in.  Hurray for the uniqueness of every child!!!!

I was so happy to see the parents participating with their children because that’s what Show Me How!  Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking is all about!  The book is a road map for parents and teachers…open it to any page and you will find a picture book suggestion with summary and a simple craft project and an easy recipe.

Are you overwhelmed and tired at the end of the day?  I know I was when my children were small.  I would have loved to have a resource like Show Me How!  In fact, that’s why I wrote the book, because I realized that many parents have so much on their plate these days, they often don’t have the time or the energy to plan fun-filled educational self-esteem-building activities for their little ones.

Please head over to my website where you can purchase a copy of this amazing award-winning book for only $22.50…that’s a 50% saving off the cover price!  You can’t get much for under $25 these days when it comes to gifts and Father’s Day is right around the corner.   Chris Singer @bookdads is doing a tribute to fathers and I did a guest post  on his blog.  You’ll have fresh ideas for the whole summer and beyond!  And here’s a BONUS:  if you purchase a copy from my website during the next 14 days, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free craft supply kit for your preschooler…safety scissors, glue stick, construction paper, and more!

I’d also like to remind anyone who is local to the Colorado Springs/Monument Colorado area that next Saturday, June 18th from 11am to 2pm there will be a town-wide festival for children called the Summer Soul-Stice.  I’ll be at the Covered Treasures Bookstore, crafting with children.  There was an announcement in the Denver Post and other local papers about it…so I’m hoping there will be a big turnout!  Please stop by and say hello.

Make-A-Meal Mondays: Mother’s Day Special

Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday.

What does every mother really need?


Perhaps some of you might say a day at the salon or a new dress.

Others might dream about a romantic get-away or dinner at a fancy restaurant.

But budgets are tight for most of us and young children really don’t have money to spend.

So what can your young children give you?

Here’s a beautiful solution that involves your young children in the planning and preparation (children love to help in the kitchen and it builds self-esteem, develops pre-reading skills and creates a life-long parent-child bond. 

It’s also fun for the entire family and costs nothing more than a regular lunch or dinner at home.

Have a Mother’s Day Picnic…outside if the weather is mild (at a local park if you have one nearby) or indoors if it is cold or rainy.  Spread out the blanket on the living room floor and you are all set!

Use paper plates for no-hassle cleanup…not having to prepare or clean up the meal is a wonderful gift for any mom.

MOTHER’S DAY KABOBS

You will need: An assortment of fruit such as grapes, strawberries and apples, a small block of American, Cheddar or Swiss cheese, several slices of cooked turkey or chicken and bamboo skewers.

1.     Wash the fruit, cut stems off the strawberries, cut the apples in chunks.

2.     Cut the cheese into small cubes.

3.     Cut the meat slices into strips.  Roll each strip before you push it onto the skewer.

4.     Push pieces of fruit, cheese and meat onto each skewer in a colorful arrangement…let your child decide.

5.     Wrap each completed skewer in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready for the picnic.

To round off the meal, choose whole wheat rolls or crackers and a juice box for each member of the family.  Bring a ball to toss back and forth if you go to a park.   If your picnic is indoors, why not turn on some music and have a family dance-off.  I guarantee that your young children will treasure this Mother’s Day memory for years to come and, hopefully, you will as well. 

Spending fun positive time together (that doesn’t cost a fortune and cause financial stress) builds family bonds.  If you want some more Mother’s Day activities, including a craft project that will make beautiful note cards your child can give to a beloved grandmother or preschool teacher, please head over and click the activities tab on my website at http://www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

Summer is just around the corner.  I know that many parents are wondering what they will do with their children.  Great activities abound in my new book.   

For this week only, in honor of Mother’s Day, we are offering a $10 MARSHALLS/TJMAXX GIFT CARD (two of the favorite stores of every mom) that will be included when your book ships out to you…a treasure-trove of fun-filled simple activities for your child and a lovely gift for you!  Happy Mother’s Day from MoneyPenny Press, Ltd.

What’s in Your Child’s Bookcase Wordy Wednesday: MIMMY AND SOPHIE: THE VACATION

Sunrise at the Brooklyn Bridge

Image by Francisco Diez via Flickr

Are your children old enough to ask where you are taking them this summer?

Do you watch the television commercials for Disneyworld and feel badly because you can’t afford to take your children to this magical amusement park?

Is your budget already stretched thin with just providing the necessities, but you wish you had extra money so you could plan a vacation?

The parents in today’s recommended picture book story are faced with the same budget problems that many of us are experiencing.  However, even though they have very little money they do have a lot of creativity.

MIMMY AND SOPHIE: THE VACATION

Written by Miriam Cohen

Illustrated by Thomas Yezerski

            Summer is coming and all the children are boasting about where they are going for vacation.   Mimmy and Sophie don’t have anything to contribute to the discussion because their parents are struggling financially.  When Mimmy and Sophie ask their parents if they can take a vacation somewhere, their mother suggests they have a special picnic on the Brooklyn Bridge.

            After helping their mother make egg salad sandwiches, the two little girls accompany their parents to the store where they buy a special treat…cupcakes with filling.  Mimmy and Sophie enjoy the picnic on the bridge and spend the rest of the afternoon watching the boats in the river and the beautiful sunset.  Although they have not traveled far, both girls are satisfied with the wonderful day they have spent with their parents.

            Mimmy and Sophie were fortunate because their parents were sensitive to the needs and concerns of their children.  They used their imagination to plan a wonderful afternoon for their daughters and, with very little money, enabled Mimmy and Sophie to enjoy a very special vacation.  The time their parents spent with them helped Mimmy and Sophie understand how much they were loved.

As parents, we need to listen to our children and spend time with them just like the parents in the story: Positive Parental Participation in action!

If you are looking for activities to do for the summer or anytime, please visit my website and check out my book for parents and teachers of preschoolers.   It’s loaded with easy fun-filled crafts and cooking activities.

What craft activities does your child enjoy most?

Photo credits: Image of the Brooklyn Bridge by Francisco Diez

Great ideas for end-of-summer fun!

We just got back from a five-day vacation in the mountains of Colorado.  The weather was perfect.  The fishing was great.  The cabin was outfitted with everything you could need…even a flat-screen TV which we never turned on because we were too busy during the day having fun outdoors and too tired at night to even want to watch anything.  Cell phones don’t work there and we didn’t bring the computer.  And I began to realize how life was like in the days before TV and computers and phones.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate the technology that allows each of us to know what is going on in the world the moment it happens.  But it made me more aware of how much closer a family could be if they were more isolated from all that is happening out there or if they made an effort to spend time together without the distractions that usually keep us going in different directions.

So here’s a list of a few great ideas for end-of-summer fun that might possibly bring your family closer together and won’t cost a fortune:

  • Go camping…even for the day…but overnight, if possible.  Rent equipment or borrow it from friends if you don’t already have what you would need.
  • Check out local parks, museums and art galleries.  Some are free and many have special deals for families.  You might even purchase a museum membership that entitles your family to special museum privileges during the year.
  • Have an end-of-summer get-together.  If your child is going to school (or nursery school or daycare) this year, see if you can find out who will be in his/her class or group.  Invite the children and their parents…what an awesome way to help your child start the year already knowing some of his classmates.  The get-together can be a pot-luck with everyone bringing something to eat so that the burden of food is not all on you.  Also, have each family bring a favorite game…there will certainly be plenty to do.  Take lots of pictures and have your child help you make a collage or album of this special day.  He/she can bring it to school for show-and-tell…great for a child who is anxious about the first day of school…something like BILLY AND THE BIG NEW SCHOOL by Laurence and Catherine Anholt.
  • Plan to have dinner together as a family, if possible.  And please, turn the TV off and don’t answer the phone if it rings 🙂

That’s it…just a few simple suggestions…hope they help you end the summer on a high note and begin the school year in a positive way.

Great tips for healthy summer eating

We’re in the dog days of August and the temperatures are soaring in many parts of the country.  Here in Colorado, we’ve actually had days and days of RAIN and HUMIDITY, two things we almost never get!  But, before you think I’m complaining, I know we need the moisture – gardens are bursting with ripe fruits and vegetables, lawns look beautifully green without using sprinklers, and the reservoirs are being replenished.  In every situation, there is positive side, although sometimes you really have to search for it.

Check out the following great tips for healthy summer eating:

  • Drink, drink, drink!  It’s more important than ever to stay hydrated – drink plenty of water – and remember to encourage young children to drink.  Health experts say we are already dehydrated if we are feeling thirsty.
  • Eat 6 small meals instead of 3 big ones.  Studies  have shown that eating smaller meals more often is better for us in many ways  – keeping blood sugar levels more balanced throughout the day.  Also, we are less likely to overeat because we are not starving when we sit down.
  • Make sure snacks are nutritious ones.  Nut butters on whole wheat crackers, celery sticks or apple slices always hit the spot in our home – this type of snack is brimming with protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • Prepare more vegetarian main dishes and fruit desserts.  The harvest season is upon us in Colorado, with fresh sweet corn, firm zucchini, plump tomatoes, ripe peaches.  Using locally grown, in-season produce is not only healthy for you, it is also eco-friendly, with a less negative impact on the environment.
  • Check out your local farmer’s markets.  Many cities have at least one.  Here in Colorado Springs, there are quite a few.  Check them out at http://bit.ly/bApQyb.

Here’s a recipe from my new book, SHOW ME HOW!  BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING that uses some of those summer fruits to make a wonderfully cooling homemade fruity raisin sorbet – the best of desserts – bursting with flavor and nutritious as well!

You will need: 2 cups chopped fruit (strawberries, blueberries, peaches – use your imagination), 2 cups sliced bananas, 1 cup orange or pineapple juice, 1/2 cup raisins, blender, and a large bowl.

  1. Freeze the fruits and bananas until solid.
  2. Put the frozen fruits in the blender with the juice and blend until stiff.
  3. Scoop out of blender and stir in raisins.
  4. Serve immediately or store in the freezer in a covered container.
  5. Makes about 2 cups (6-8 servings).  Best eaten within a few days.

Hold onto the summer with a great fruit crisp recipe!

Every blog and tweet I read seems to talk about the end of summer and the start of school.  However, right now the harvest season is just getting underway.  How about a GREAT recipe for COLORFUL SUMMER FRUIT CRISP…delicious, and so easy to prepare that it appears in my new book, SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING!  Preschoolers love to help in the kitchen…the competence and confidence it builds contribute to a positive self-image for them.

COLORFUL SUMMER FRUIT CRISP

You will need: 5 cups mixed summer fruit, washed and then sliced if necessary (peaches, plums, apricots, strawberries, blueberries,etc.); 1/4 cup white sugar (you can substitute honey or agave), 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 tsp lemon juice, 3 Tb flour, 1/4 cup flour, 2 cups rolled oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup margarine (you can use one of the more healthy non-GMO spreads), a greased 9×13 inch pan, and 2 large bowls.

  1. In a large bowl, gently toss fruit with white sugar, orange juice and lemon juice.
  2. Sprinkle with 3 Tb flour, toss gently again and spread in the greased pan.
  3. In another bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and the remaining flour.  Then add margarine and mix till crumbly.
  4. Sprinkle crumbly mixture over fruit in pan.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown. 
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  7. Serves 12.
  8. TIP: You can use your imagination when assembling the fruits…how many different colors will there be in this delicious and healthful dessert?

The summer may be winding down…but make the most of the healthful fruits and vegetables that are part of the season.  Check out your local farmer’s markets…a great family outing!