Having little helpers in the kitchen may take a little longer than if you were doing things on your own, but the payoff is well worth it. Working together in the kitchen creates memories, provides learning opportunities, and sets the foundation for a lifetime of healthy cooking and eating. Like with any other task though, the right tools can make all the difference. Take a look at our favorite kitchen gadgets for your own healthy little cooks.
- Kid-sized kitchen tools. Full-sized kitchen tools can be awkward for little hands to maneuver. A wide variety of kid-sized kitchen tools are available to make the job easier and more fun. The best part is these tools are not toys; they are the real deal made in miniature. Choose from versions that look identical to yours or pick bright options to add whimsy and fun to the kitchen.
- Non-slip bowls. This kid-friendly item doesn’t have to come from the children’s department. Just look for any mixing bowls with rubberized grips on the bottom to help prevent slips and spills.
- Disposable knives. Those little plastic knives that come with takeout food are a great way to let kiddos feel like they are making a contribution to the prep work, but with far less risk of injury. Save some the next time you get to-go food then let your little ones cut soft foods like cheese. For older kids, sturdier plastic knives are available in cookware stores and online. Remember both options require adult supervision.
- Immersion Blender. Even though the amount of help small hands can do with an immersion blender is minimal (let them help you press the button to activate the blender), the immersion blender makes the list because it makes fast work of making kid-friendly recipes like smoothies. As an added bonus, the immersion blender is perfect for making baby food in a snap if you have healthy little babies at home too.
- Custom Aprons. Admittedly a personalized kid-sized apron is not an essential, but it sure can make cooking time extra special. Check out sites like Etsy to find one your kids will love or buy a plain one and spend an afternoon decorating it with your kids!
October is a month filled with fun Halloween activities. Costumes, parades, and trick-or-treating all make for special times for the whole family. Like it or not though, almost all Halloween activities are inextricably linked with candy. Lots and lots of candy. With all the negative impacts we know sugar has on health, the last thing we want to do is fill our children with pounds of candy. But how do you keep your children from gobbling up all that candy without eliciting cries and protest? Read on for sweet solutions to a sugar overload.
- Find a Candy Exchange Program. Many dentists, pediatricians, and other health-minded community professionals offer candy exchange programs at Halloween. Your children can cash in their candy for a toy or other prize. This way they still get a reward without all the negatives of candy!
- Use Candy for Kindness. Consider taking all that candy to a local fire or police station. Younger kids will get a kick out of getting to see the station and talk with the police officers or firemen. Another great option is to mail the candy to soldiers overseas. What can be a huge bag of candy for one child is just a small sweet treat split among large groups like this.
- Exercise Moderation. Let your children pick a few favorite treats to have spread out over the course of multiple days. This helps your children learn the importance of making choices and using moderation. Encourage your kiddos to pick a protein filled snack along with the candy to help stabilize blood sugar.
Perhaps, like many of us, your primary association when you think of gelatin is likely the brightly colored, wiggly stuff served in cafeteria lines across the country. Upon closer inspection, gelatin, the real stuff not the techno-color cafeteria dessert, is actually an exceptionally healthy food to add into our diets. In addition to the health benefits, it is a versatile ingredient that makes it ideal to use in multiple recipes. Plus this nutritious staple is shelf stable, making it perfect to have on hand all the time. Find out why you’ll what you’ll want it for and why:
- Use Gelatin to Make Fruity Snacks. Use gelatin to as the base for fruit snacks, gummies, and homemade jello-like treats. Hint: use fruit and fruit juices to flavor your fruity gelatin snacks to avoid all the negative impacts sugar has on our bodies and our children’s bodies.
- Use Gelatin to Make Creamy Desserts. Gelatin serves an excellent thickening agent. Add it to puddings, homemade marshmallows, whipped cream, and custards to instantly improve the creamy texture as well as the nutritional profile.
- Use Gelatin to Make Savory Dishes. Gelatin is naturally made when you make bone broths, but even if you are not making a bone broth from scratch you can still add gelatin to stews and soups for a quick way to boost nutrition without altering flavor. It can also be added to quick breads to create a richer taste and texture.
If you haven’t stopped reading this article to go whip up something with this super food, you may be interested to know what exactly all the health benefits of gelatin are. Read on to find out all the benefits you are giving your family with each yummy bite.
-Great for athletes. Helps build muscles and repair tissues with its nine amino acids.
-Better sleep. The lycine content has been shown to help with sleep.
-Anti-inflammatory aid. Gelatin helps reduce inflammation and aids in joint care.
-Digestive care. Gelatin is healing and soothing to the digestive tract. Perfect to eat during GI illnesses or when the GI tract has been irritated by other foods.
-Rich source of protein. Gelatin contains an impressive 6 grams of protein per serving.
-Healing agent. Gelatin promotes both internal healing and also helps external wounds to heal.
-Strengthens hair and nails. The vitamins found in gelatin helps hair and nails grow stronger
Kids may not be the ones doing the grocery shopping, but their preferences still hold powerful influence over what foods are brought home. Parents are on a constant quest to find healthy food their kids will want. Food companies know this and work hard to present their foods as healthy, kid-friendly goodies. The problem is many “kid-friendly” foods are simply masquerading this way. In reality, they are unfriendly foes to the health and well-being of your family. We’ll skip the warnings on the obvious foes like processed lunch meats and crackers and double stuffed cookies and focus on these top five imposters.
- Juice Boxes. Many juice boxes have a splash of juice combined with sugar and artificial flavors. Even all-natural juice boxes are best regarded as a treat instead of a staple since they do not offer the nutrition the whole fruit does. Instead: Let your kids pick out a leak-proof water bottle to fill with water.
- Snack crackers. Whether they are shaped like goldfish, whales, or any other little critter, these critters lack much nutrition and are packed with refined grains that give kids a quick energy crash. Instead: Use a cute cookie cutter to cut actual cheese into the fun shapes that these crackers offer.
- Prepackaged Snacks. These hold double appeal: kids think anything in a wrapper is automatically delicious and weary parents appreciate a shortcut to getting lunches made. Unfortunately, these snacks are still full of preservatives, sugars, and other undesirables; they just come in colorful wrappers. Instead: Take a few minutes each week to prepackage some truly kid-friendly snacks, like nuts and raisins, in small baggies for little hands to grab for lunchboxes and quick snacks.
- Yogurt. We have been made to think that yogurt is ice cream’s healthier cousin. In reality, the yogurts aimed at kids are full of sugar roughly equal (sometimes greater!) than that of a similar size of ice cream. Instead: Let your kids flavor plain yogurt with fruit and nuts. Or skip the dairy all together and offer them a homemade smoothie in a reusable squeeze pouch for all the fun of a yogurt tube without all the sugar.
- Organic Treats. It’s so easy to fall to the lure of thinking anything that is organic is good for you. While ‘organic cane sugar’ and the like may lack the pesticides conventional sugar has, it is still sugar. This means those organic lollipops marketed at your kids will still have all the negative effects of sugar. Instead: Use the same criteria you use to evaluate all foods with when making shopping choices, whether the choice is conventional or organic.
Is there any one flavor so synonymous with fall as pumpkin? You would be hard pressed to find a pair more inextricably linked and beloved by kids and adults alike as pumpkin and fall are. Don’t settle for sugary imitations of pumpkin flavor as you bring it into your fall kitchen though. Not only does the real thing taste better, it’s also free of all the sugar and artificial chemicals, full of antioxidants, fiber, and a rich source of vitamin A. Whether you use fresh or canned, incorporate pumpkin into your fall cooking with these top seven recipes.
1. Pumpkin Bread. This grain free, Paleo friendly version is perfect for breakfast or an after school snack. Double the recipe and freeze one for later!
2. Roasted Pumpkin. No list of pumpkin recipes is complete without roasted pumpkin. Here are two good ones for straightforward roasting.
3. Pumpkin Ice Cream. Hold the dairy; skip the added sugar; multiply the flavor. Everyone in the family will love having a bowl of this pumpkin “ice cream” for an after dinner treat! You’ll love knowing that you are giving them the good stuff! You’ll be surprised with how easy this recipe is.
4. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. Don’t throw away those seeds when you clean out your jack-o-laterns. Instead, roast them for a crunchy snack. Among other nutrients, pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium, zinc, and iron. Try this recipe.
5. Pumpkin Oatmeal. Start the mornings out right with this hearty and satisfying oatmeal. Make it ahead for hectic school mornings or enjoy it together as a family on a lazy Saturday morning. Find out how to make it!
6. Pumpkin Smoothie. Rather than giving in to clamoring for a sugary, caffeinated pumpkin latte, pack your kids (and yourself!) full of nutrients and flavor with this delicious pumpkin smoothie. This recipe tells you exactly how to make it at home.
7. Pumpkin Hummus. Need an appetizer for a fall party? Cutting down on your legume consumption? Just looking for a tasty snack? Whatever your reason, you and your family are bound to enjoy this pumpkin hummus. This recipe is especially great for children who love all foods that involve dipping!