Monday, June 28, 2010

Why you need to make your own baby food/snacks!

Here is a new study showing that packaged baby foods and toddler snacks contain way too much sugar.

Giving you yet another reason to make your baby food and only give your babies and toddlers healthy, non-packaged snacks!!

From CBC News (

"More than half of baby and toddler foods at Canadian grocery stores have too many calories coming from sugar, according to a study by the University of Calgary.
The study focused on a new category of processed foods such as toddler cereal bars, cookies, fruit snacks and yogurts. It showed 53 per cent of these foods had more than 20 per cent of calories coming from sugar and some even had more than 80 per cent of calories from sugar.
Simple purées of fruits and vegetables for babies were not included.
"Particular irony resides in the fact that public policy initiatives are underway to put recommended limits on the consumption of added sugars for adults and also to encourage consumers to adjust their taste buds to lower sodium levels in packaged foods — all while some products aimed at babies and toddlers work to encourage children to develop a taste for sugar and salt," study author Charlene Elliott, a professor in the University of Calgary's communications and culture department, concluded in the Journal of Public Health.
People expect baby and toddler foods to be held to a higher standard, but the findings suggests that isn't necessarily the case, Elliott said Monday.
After examining sugar and sodium levels on 186 food products specifically marketed for babies and toddlers and sold at nine stores in Calgary, Elliott found:
  • 40 per cent of products listed sugar — or some variant like corn syrup, cane syrup, brown sugar, or dextrose — in the first four ingredients on the label.
  • 19 per cent listed sugar in some form as either the first or second ingredient.
  • Baby and toddler foods were not found to be nutritionally superior in terms of sodium or sugar to their adult counterparts.
  • Overall, sodium was not problematic, with 12 per cent of foods containing moderate to high levels of sodium.
The study showed 80 per cent of the calories in Gerber Graduates for Toddlers Mini Fruit (Apple) and President's Choice Toddlers' 100% Real Fruit Snack (Banana Mango) were from sugar. Heinz Blueberry Desert (Junior) contained the lowest amount, 58 per cent.

Snack training

What is particularly of concern for Elliott is that the toddler snacks start training children to want a treat at the end of meal, which even adults often have trouble resisting.
"The [Healthy Times Arrowroot] Premium Organic 1st Cookie for Toddlers seems to suggest that you should be giving your toddler a first cookie, which isn't necessarily the case, or isn't perhaps an ideal strategy," Elliott said.
Since there is no universally accepted standard on maximum levels of added sugars for very young children, it is difficult to assess sugar levels in baby and toddler foods, the study noted.
The findings show the importance of reading nutrition labels to see what is in the food parents are giving their children, said psychologist Dr. Liann Meloff of the Pediatric Weight Clinic in Calgary.
Juices and beverages, and infant formulas and infant cereals designed to be mixed with breast milk or water, were excluded from the study to focus on foods aimed at babies and toddlers, rather than infants.
"The majority of our jarred foods contain no added sugar or salt, but for the minority that do, reducing sodium and sugar is a key priority for us," Catherine O'Brien, director of corporate affairs at Nestlé Canada in Toronto, said in a statement to CBC News.
Gerber said its Mini Fruits are made of just dried fruits. For other snacks, the company said it's working to remove corn syrup and reduce all sugars from the foods, which are meant to be occasional desserts.
The study was funded by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest Canada.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Healthy Summer Treats!

Just because you don't want your child to eat junk food and sugary foods, does not mean that they cannot enjoy some cool frozen treats!

Here are some ideas:

Smoothies- Of course, you can make them at home and customize them to your preferences. Also, be sure if you get them at a smoothie place, tell them no sugar or no sugar water. Fruit, yogurt and ice only!
(Plus, you can make a big batch and put the leftovers into a BPA free-popsicle tray and pop them into the freezer for a quick and easy treat later!)

Frozen Yogurt- Not the sugar filled kind!! Just plain old yogurt. You can pop a stick into a container and put it into the freezer or buy some organic on-the-go yogurt tubes such as Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers

Juice popsicles- Buy some organic or no sugar added 100% fruit juice and pour into a BPA free-popsicle tray for healthy versions of the summertime favorites. Check out this unique recipe for a blended fruit popsicle!

 What are your favorite healthy summertime treats? 

Monday, June 21, 2010

50 Healthy Foods Under $1 Per Pound

I just cam across this great article on Yahoo! about eating healthy for less.

The author, Jeff Yeager,  compiled a list of foods that he has purchased in the last six months for under $1 per pound. Note, that he does give disclaimers about not buying organic, and that some of these items are more expensive off season, but nonetheless, a great idea.

I especially love his idea about meal planning around the grocery store "Loss-leaders" (these are the best sale items that are usually featured on the front page of your grocery ads).

Click here to view the article on Yahoo! or read below:

"50 healthy foods for under $1 a pound"

By Jeff Yeager, The Daily Green
(Photo: Robin Macdougall / Getty Images)
(Photo: Robin Macdougall / Getty Images)

If you are what you eat, then I should weigh-in at under $1 a pound.
That's because, as a general rule of thumb, I try to only buy foodstuffs that costs under a buck per pound. Under $1 a pound, year-round -- that's my grocery shopping mantra.

It's not just because I'm a world-class penny-pincher and smart shopper; believe it or not, it's also about eating healthier. When you look at the USDA's "food pyramid," many of the things we should be eating the most of -- grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables -- happen to cost the least.

It's often the stuff that's bad for us (at least in large quantities) like red meat, fatty dairy products, and processed foods high in trans saturated fats, that cost the most, on a per pound basis.
To prove my point, I've put together this list of 50 healthy foods that I've purchased at least once in the last six months for under $1 a pound.

So rev-up your shopping cart, but be careful: There's a Green Cheapskate loose on aisle five!
  • Apples - One a day keeps the cheapskate away.
  • Asparagus - HUGE store special at 99 cents a pound during Easter week. I bought 10 pounds, blanched it, and then froze it.
  • Bananas - Potassium for pennies.
  • Barley - A tasty alternative to rice and potatoes.
  • Beans - Canned or dried. Kidney, pinto, navy, black, red, and many more.
  • Bok choy - Steam and serve with a little soy sauce.
  • Broccoli - Yes, a store special. Usually closer to $2 per pound.
  • Bulgar wheat - Try it in pilaf or a tabouleh salad.
  • Cabbage - Green and red. I like mine fried.
  • Cantaloupe - No, sorry, I can't; I'm already married.
  • Carrots - Raw or steamed. Rich in carotenes, a healthy antioxidant.
  • Celery - Stir-fry it for a change.
  • Chicken - Whole or various parts, on sale.
  • Chickpeas - AKA garbanzo beans -- mash 'em up as a healthy sandwich spread.
  • Cornmeal - "Polenta" is all the rage these days, but I loved it 40 years ago when Mom called it "cornmeal mush."
  • Cucumbers - Try peeling, seeding, and steaming with a little butter and salt.
  • Daikon radish - My new favorite raw veggie.
  • Eggs - Don't overdo them, but eggs provide high quality protein and still cost about $1 per pound. (Plus, there are many eggscellent things you can do with the shells.)
  • Green beans - Frozen, but fresh are sometimes on sale for under $1 a pound in-season.
  • Greens - Kale, mustard, turnip, and collard greens are rich in vitamins and a good source of fiber. Here's how I cook 'em.
  • Grapes - Store special at 99 cents a pound.
  • Grapefruit - Bake with a little brown sugar on top for a healthy dessert.
  • Lentils - Perhaps the perfect food -- healthy, cheap, and versatile. Think soups, salads, sandwich spreads -- and those are only some of the "s" possibilities.
  • Liver - Chicken livers usually cost under $1 a pound, and sometimes beef and pork liver can be found in the DMZ ("Dollar Maximum Zone").
  • Mangoes - High in fiber and vitamins A, B6, and C.
  • Milk - Yep, on a per-pound basis, milk still costs well under $1 a pound.
  • Napa cabbage - Delicious steamed or raw in a salad. 
  • Oatmeal - The good old-fashioned "slow cooking" kind ... that takes all of five minutes.
  • Onions - Try baking them whole in a cream sauce.
  • Oranges - Frequent sale price when in-season.
  • Pasta - Store special at 89 cents a pound -- I nearly bought them out!
  • Peanut butter - Special sale price, but stock up because it usually has a long shelf life.
  • Pork - Inexpensive cuts of pork frequently go on sale for 99 cents per pound or less; sometimes even ham during the holidays.
  • Potatoes - White and red, Baked, mashed, boiled, broiled, steamed.
  • Pumpkin - Yes, you can eat the same ones you buy as holiday decorations, and they usually cost under 50 cents a pound.
  • Rice - White for under $1 a pound; brown, a little more expensive but better for you.
  • Rutabagas - Hated them as a kid; can't get enough of them now.
  • Sour cream - 99 cents on sale, but long shelf life, so stock up. My cucumber awaits.
  • Spinach - Frozen (but Popeye doesn't care).
  • Split peas - Add a hambone and make the ultimate comfort soup. Try it in the crock-pot!
  • Squash - Try baking acorn squash with a little brown sugar.
  • Sweet corn - Canned or fresh on the cob, in-season. (Try this recipe for summer corn fritters.)
  • Tomatoes - Canned are often better than fresh to use in cooking, and occasionally you can find fresh on sale for under a buck, in-season. 
  • Turkey - A popular bargain-priced, loss-leader around the holidays -- buy an extra bird and freeze it for later.
  • Turnips - Make me think of my grandparents, who always grew them.
  • Watermelon - Whole, in-season melons can sometime cost less than 20 cents a pound if they're on sale and you find a big one.
  • Wine - Well, at least the stuff I drink -- a 5-liter box (approximately 11 pounds) for about 10 bucks, on sale. (BTW, the beer I drink is even less expensive per pound.)
  • Yams/sweet potatoes - One of the healthiest foods you can eat, and usually available year-round for under $1 a pound.
  • Yogurt - 8-ounce containers on sale, two for $1.
  • Zucchini - OK, they're a type of squash (above). But I love them so much they deserve their own place on the list. Plus they look great in pantyhose.
Here are a few disclaimers about my list-o-50:
No, I don't live on another planet or in a part of the country where the cost of living is deflated. In fact, I live and shop in the Washington, D.C., metro area, which has one of the highest costs of living (and groceries) in the country.

No, I'm not saying that all of these items are available in every store, at all times. But if you shop carefully, you can always find at least some variety of these foods around which to plan your meals.
Many of the items on the list (e.g., most root vegetables, bananas, beans, etc.) can usually be purchased for under $1 pound even when not on sale or in-season. Other items on the list were "store specials" and typically would cost more than $1 a pound, and/or they were in-season so cost less.

No, none of the items on my under $1-a-pound list are organically grown. The pros/cons of that debate aside, for most people with a limited budget, the choice isn't whether or not to buy expensive organic, it's whether or not to eat highly processed crap like fast food or eat inexpensive healthy foods like those on my list. (See the dirty dozen foods with the most pesticides to maximize organic purchases.)

No, I'm not saying that by eating only these foods you'll have a complete, healthy diet. But they certainly can be the backbone around which to plan healthy, inexpensive menus for your family.

No, I don't burn up a lot of time and gas by running around to a lot of different grocery stores, and I rarely use coupons. I shop only once every week or two, and I usually shop at only one or two stores.
I plan my meals around the-best-of-the-best weekly store specials (aka the "loss-leaders"), the sale items that are usually on the front page of the weekly circular most stores publish. If you're not a creative cook like me, try a website like Delish or Epicurious, where you can enter the ingredients you have to work with and get all kinds of recipes.
Now look at all the money you've saved!

Jeff Yeager is the author of The Cheapskate Next Door and The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches.

Thanks to Yahoo! for this article

Friday, June 18, 2010

Breastfeeding a toddler?

Most of you know that I enjoy breastfeeding very much. I am lucky that most of my friends are supportive of nursing and we are really a great support group for each other.

I subscribe to KellyMom on Facebook and in reading an article about how long to nurse your baby- I read a comment that made a great point and I just had to add my thoughts...

The article was talking about some people not understanding why you should breastfeed past one year. (or at least to a year). She pointed out that MANY toddlers still use bottles, so why is breastfeeding a toddler looked down upon?

I never even thought about it from that perspective. Now, I have not run into to many negative comments, but have a few people give me strange looks when I say (very proudly) that I still nurse Matthew once a day. He will be 2 in about 6 weeks.

As I think about it, I see MANY toddlers/kids with bottles, pacifiers, and blankets and other loveys. These are all not necessarily needed, but offer little ones with comfort and a way to soothe themselves. A breast is the same thing at this point. Of course, there are still nutritional benefits, but when your toddler eats mostly table food, it is for comfort, snuggles and closeness when he/she needs it most. And, in my opinion, breastfeeding is the most natural attachment item a toddler could possibly have!

So- I am going to make this point next time someone looks at me weird and I hope that all of my pro-breastfeeding friends will continue to be vocal and encouraging to everyone about the topic. I know it has been very helpful to me to have all of your support!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What to do with leftover frozen purees?

This is a great article!! When you start making food for your baby, you realize that it is easier to make a bunch and freeze it in those perfect little ice cube sized portioned...but what do you do when your baby has moved on to eating table food and you have a bunch of little food cubes in the freezer?

Thanks to the creative people at Wholesome Baby Food for these great suggestions!

"Fruit Baby Food Purees
  • Use baby food fruit puree cubes for fruit spreads
  • Mix the fruit puree cubes with yogurts or cottage cheese
  • Add the fruit purees to Baby Meatballs
  • Fruit purees make a wonderful addition to Rice Balls
  • Use fruit cubes as dipping sauces for your baby’s finger foods
  • Add some fruit cubes to a teething biscuit or bread recipe
  • Mix extra veggie puree into baby pancakes or a natural Buckwheat pancake mix
  • Add leftover fruit baby purees into baked goods recipes such as cakes and breads
Vegetable Baby Food Purees
  • Use baby food vegetable cubes for “baby sauce” and pour over pasta and rice dishes
  • Mix the veggie purees into Baby Meatballs and Rice Balls
  • Veggie purees also make great dipping sauces for baby’s finger foods
  • Add some vegetable cubes into a teething biscuit or bread recipe
  • Veggie purees are nice to pour over bits of meats
  • Mix extra veggie puree into baby pancakes or a natural Buckwheat pancake mix
  • Add vegetable baby food purees into your homemade sauces and dips" (
Do you have any other ideas??

Baby Food Introductions and Allergies

As I have posted about before, a lot of new research is coming out about food introductions and allergies.

While the information can be conflicting- some suggesting you wait to introduce highly allergenic foods and some suggesting to introduce them younger- either way it is a topic you should read up on and talk about with your pediatrician.

I choose to use the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's food introduction chart with my son, and of course, I followed the 4 day wait rule when introducing new foods and so far, so good!

Here is a great article on the subject from one of my favorite websites, Wholesome Baby Food. Click here and make a plan for introducing foods to your little one!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Great article to help busy parents cook healthy!

I love the website! If you have not been there- you need to. You will become addicted and visit everyday. (She is a SAHM to 3 kids and basically is the master grocery shopper, only spending about $30 per week for her family of 5!!)

She gives you tips, suggestions, recipes and links to every great sale and coupon out there! (Can you say $1.89 pack of Huggies diapers?? Yep- I got them!)

What I also love, is that she makes good food for her family. She makes healthy, homemade meals and shares her ideas. LOVE THE SHARING!

Here is her latest tip on making homemade meals quick and easy even with little ones running around! Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lunch Ideas for Toddlers

Here is the second in a series of ideas on what you can feed your toddler. I first posted about some breakfast ideas- not because I think my ideas are amazing... No way! I actually just wanted to start a conversation where us parents can share ideas to hopefully, make all of our lives easier!

I am hoping that in each of these posts, several people will generate ideas so we all can have an easier time preparing healthy food for our children. I know I am running in a hundred different directions, so when I realize "oh no! It's already meal time!", I struggle to come up with new creative ideas.

Here are some of my favorite lunch menus:

Chicken, Ham or Turkey- I cannot really afford organic lunch meats, but I do get Boar's Head meats because they have no preservatives and no additives.

Cheese- my son does not drink cow's milk, he does not like it. So, I supplement with lots of other wholesome dairy. I try and mix it up with different varieties, and not just the plain mild cheeses. I give him some of the more unique flavors too. Be careful about added preservatives and artificial coloring.

Cut veggies- Of course, carrots and celery are favorites- but don't forget the bell peppers, green beans, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes and more! (I cut the veggies when I get home from the store so snack sized portions are readily available)

Fruit- A staple in our house, just like the veggies. Also- try and see if your child likes to eat the whole fruit. My son flips out when I give him a whole apple, peach or other fruit. He is occupied for a long time and feels like such a BIG boy, haha!

Annie's Organic Mac and Cheese- Love it!

Grilled Cheese- I add meats for protein when I feel my son needs it

Quesadilla- I add meat and veggies too- for a more complete meal

Turkey meatballs and sauce- You can modify your favorite meatball recipe to fit any meats you allow your toddler to consume. If you are vegetarian, you can also make them with beans and other legumes.

Dips- My son likes to dip anything fruit, veggies, sometimes even things that don't seem 'dip-able'. I give him yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, hummus, guacamole, salsa...

So- here are my few ideas. What about you? What are your lunch favorites for your toddler?? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Organic SALE!

I love buying organic produce but it can be so pricey! I am on a budget- so when I get a good deal, I get very excited.

At Whole Foods organic pineapples are on sale right now for $0.99 each! This is amazing. Organic pineapples are usually around $4.99-$5.99 each!

It is very sweet and delicious, too!!

Hurry over and buy yours today. (I might even go buy more and freeze them for smoothies later!)

Another great deal: Stonyfield Organic Yogurt for $0.50 each! (regularly $1.09 each) You can also visit the Stonyfield website and print coupons to get an even better deal...

Click here to visit the Whole Foods website. You can also download a pdf file with all of the current sales at your local store.