Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Two Confessions

For those of you that know me well, you may want to sit down for this one. Seriously, sit down. There's only one way to start this... might as well just rip that band-aid off: 

I'm taking my kids to McDonald's for dinner tonight. 

I'm just going to let that one soak in for a bit. 

Now just to be clear, I have not converted into a drive thru mama. (Starbucks excluded). This was actually a very tough decision. You see, Annie and Max's school is participating in a fundraiser there. A portion of the sales from tonight will go to help fund activities in their school. Many of the teachers, students and parents will be there. Love the idea, hate the venue. 

This is where I have to make a(nother) confession. I'm uptight. And not just a little, when it comes to food, I look at McDonalds like the devil incarnate (or inrestaurant). Yeah, it's that bad. It pretty much embodies all I stand against in the food world. But the reality is, I'm pretty uptight. I'm realizing more and more that there does need to be a balance in life and that takes me to my next point. 

I'm guessing some of you are thinking I should just donate the money and skip the meal. I really like that idea, but I started to give it some thought. What's important about this event, and life quite frankly, is community. And that's exactly how food should be eaten... together. Food represents so many things to so many people, but it is often part of the glue that brings people together. So tonight, I'm choosing relationships and charity first, even at the Golden Arches.

Happiness and Health,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Portion Sizes and Empty Calories

So I was feeling the need to get on a little soapbox here. I'm certainly not a perfect parent, far from it. I'm also not so great with the portion control on my plate... It's hard work and sometimes that extra cookie or 5 "mysteriously" end up missing as I stand over them at about 9:30 at night. 

That said, I want to stress that it's not maintaining the perfect balance every day that's important... but more knowing how you stack up over time. This is especially important with kids and all of the snacks and special treats they get. And it's not just at home- it's all over. It seems that there is always a reason for cake and/or a special treat. 

I thought it might be helpful to break it down in what I've seen a typical day could look like for a preschooler... I'm just going to include the empty calories here- essentially the "junk food"- (Calories are rounded)

9:30- playdate- 2 doughnut holes and a "juice" like drink: 200 calories
12:00 lunch- "fruit" snacks- 80 calories
3:00- snack- Goldfish crackers- 120 calories (Ok there are a few OK things about Goldfish- they are a source of iron and some B vitamins, but for the most part they are pretty nutritionally void.)
4:00- Dumdum lollipop at the dry cleaners- 25 calories
7:00- after dinner- two "fun size" candy bars- 140 calories.

Now obviously all of your days don't look exactly like this, but I think it's easy to lose sight of the big picture... I know I do. In this example this preschooler had 565 "empty" calories. A preschooler needs approximately 1000-1600 calories. This means more than half of your child's daily caloric needs can very easily be coming from foods with little or no nutritional value.  The current recommendation is limiting these foods to 8%-20%. No easy feat in a world full of parties, play dates, prepackaged snacks and fast food chains. 

The solution? Think about the day, or even the week. Go for more nutrient dense choices for you and your kids- for most meals and snacks. Try smaller portions of the "junk" foods. And make it fun. In the pictures below I gave my kids teeny tiny ice cream cups with sprinkles. They loved it and really didn't think twice about not getting enough. You can also offer to bring healthy snacks to play dates and parties. And finally, plan ahead. I've found many of my poor food choices come in a pinch. Have heathy snacks and desserts ready to go!

Send me your suggestions and concerns... I'd love to hear from you all!

Happiness & health, 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Granola

I'm back blogging... finally. Took a long break to have #3! We had a little boy, Gus in February and it's been a bit of a long road in that he was born with a cleft lip and palate. I'll blog about him later. But in short, he is wonderful and such a blessing!

I was feeling very inspired yesterday with this amazing fall weather- pumpkin season is here. And since I'm kind of a nut for granola, I figured I'd combine the two! This recipe makes A LOT, so as you see in the picture, I gave some as a gift. This is great as a cereal or on top of yogurt. It also makes your house smell amazing when you make it.

1 stick of salted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 jar Trader Joe's pumpkin butter
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup cranberries (optional) and I did the orange flavored ones
8 cups rolled oats

Melt butter in a large non stick pot, add in sugar and pumpkin butter and simmer for a few minutes. Add the vanilla, spices and nuts. Stir. Mix in cranberries and oats. You will need to mix for a while to thoroughly coat the oats.

Bake for about 20 minutes in a 300 degree oven. Stir about halfway through baking. Cool and serve!