Orange-Pineapple Cake

Closeup of orange pineapple cake

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 package (16.5 ounce) white cake mix (e.g., Duncan Hines®)
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 can (10.5 ounces) mandarin oranges packed in water
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Frosting Ingredients

  • 10 ounces crushed pineapple in own juice
  • ½ of a small box (1 ounce) instant sugar free, fat free vanilla pudding
  • 4 ounces reduced fat whipped topping (e.g., Cool Whip®)

Cake Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, egg whites, applesauce, and oranges with juice on low speed for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  4. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool cake completely before frosting.

Frosting Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine the pineapple and pudding mix.
  2. Fold in whipped topping just until blended.
  3. Spread over cake.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.


Makes 16 servings (Serving size equals approximately 2 x 3 inch piece of cake.) Each serving counts as 2 starch servings.

Nutrition analysis per serving:

  • Calories: 180
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 240 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 34 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugar: 24 g
  • Protein: 2 g

– Mary Ligotti-Hitch, R.D. is a registered dietitian with the Weight Control Center at Beaumont Health Center. Beaumont Weight Control Center offers free cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Mommy shaming: What else is new?

Woman hiding face in shame

Altered image. Camdiluv, Flickr. CC license.

Through social media and popular culture, we’ve found a hip and trendy way to blame and shame mothers in the 21st century. And while we think this is a new “thing,” that is far from the truth.

Let’s take a look back. Sigmund Freud, a psychologist who studied psychoanalysis in the 19th and 20th century, was one of the first to suggest that early childhood experiences were the cause of poor brain development and led to diagnoses such as autism. Mothers were often blamed for causing autism in their children during this time and were known as “refrigerator moms” due to their inability to show emotion and displayed cold parenting. Thank goodness these thoughts and attitudes were debunked. However this notion that the mother is to blame continued throughout the sciences of psychology and medicine.

Not to get too scientific here, but epigenetics is the study of how external and environmental factors influence gene expression. Even in the 21st century scientists continue to have various thoughts. It’s very similar to the old debate of nature versus nurture. Let’s use the example of a mom who lets her child eat pizza for breakfast to avoid the morning power struggle. Is it really that bad? Could be. Some scientists may say that by doing so, the mom may be altering the eating habits of that future generation. Other scientists may say that one less argument may have a profound impact. But unless you are a scientist, nutritionist, or gym teacher, why do you care? Why are you judging this mother?

How often have you (primarily women, though men have too) been in public and witnessed a mother doing the unthinkable to her child? Was she breastfeeding him, scolding the child, allowing the child run all over the store, letting the child talk back? Did the child have her mother’s electronic device? Did the child have snacks with high fructose syrup or was the mom late in picking her child up from practice? These are things that we judge other parents about. We call them names, roll our eyes in disgust, talk about them behind their back, and put them down.

That is Mommy shaming.

Yes, we Mommy shame! So why is that? We put down other mothers for doing something that we disagree with or think is appalling. But who are we to say what is appalling or not? There is no perfect parent. The Parent Police do not exist. But what does start to exist is a need to be the perfect parent.

As parents, we try to keep up with the latest information that will help our child succeed. We may overschedule our child with several extracurricular activities and tutoring sessions. We give our children the newest electronic gadgets. We grow our own garden and prepare all the meals from scratch to avoid pesticides and GMO foods (genetically modified organisms). It becomes too much and too stressful to keep up with.

Now there may be some times when safety is a concern and you feel the need to say something to a mother. Think twice about this, then think again and wonder how you would prefer to be approached. For example, if a child isn’t being supervised and you’re concerned about safety or a kidnapping, you might say, “I saw an unattended child on aisle eight,” in a pleasant and polite tone. Avoid saying, “You need to go get your kid and do a better job of watching her,” in a disapproving judgmental tone.

By now you should know if you are one of those women who shame other mothers. If this is the case, it is a definite sign that you may need more balance in your life. We could all use a bit more balance in our lives. If we have to put others down so that we can justify our own neurotic behaviors, then we know we are too close to the edge! Besides what does our mommy shaming behavior teach our kids? We wouldn’t dare want our daughters and sons to be known as “the mean girl” or “classroom bully” would we? What would the neighbors say!

– Carnigee Truesdale-Howard, PsyD, ABPP, Pediatric Psychologist with Beaumont Children’s Divisions of Hematology/Oncology & Gastroenterology


The eating struggle


Angry child eating

Cropped image. Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr. CC license.

The toddler age is characterized by a constant recording of “No.”

“Sweetie, let’s play on the playground?” “No!”

“Honey, do you want to play with your brother?” “No.”

Sometimes the constant “no” makes us feel like we’re going insane. But nowhere is it more vexing than hearing “no” at meal times. No to veggies. No to chicken. No pasta. You get the idea. Ugh! As parents, we’re left in complete frustration and worry. We wonder how we’re going to get the right nutrients into our child. Grandma tries. Grandpa tries. The toddler wins with screaming and crying while our heads pound. Does this sound like you?

Picky eating is common

First of all, I want to reassure you that you aren’t alone. Hundreds of parents face the same struggle as you. Picky eating one of the biggest dilemmas parents face today.

Toddlers go through a normal stage of development called neophobia. In this stage, a toddler will reject foods for no particular reason or pattern. As adults, we take this refusal as preference, but it is a real stage of development. The rule of thumb is to offer a food item to your child at least 10 times. This gives your child the ability to distinguish taste and develop true likes and dislikes. Also, give your child the chance to play with food. Present them with frozen foods such as green beans, corn or peas, and then move to items such as cheese sticks, celery or carrots. Activities with pudding and yogurt are also fun! For most children, if they can play with food then they can accept food.

That’s great advice, but my child is still picky.

If your child continues to reject foods and is at a stage where he or she will eat 15 foods or fewer, it’s time to seek help. It’s important you work with a professional who is a trained feeding therapist. A feeding therapist can be an occupational therapist or speech therapist.

A therapist first checks to see if a child has good strength in the jaw, lip and tongue. If a child doesn’t have that strength, it’s hard to chew or bite food, or even keep food in her mouth. Further, a child with a weak jaw, lip or tongue is at risk for choking. It is likely that she has already choked and remembers.

For some children, their pickiness surrounds delayed eating patterns. Children with delayed eating patterns will not be ready for foods as fast as the charts on Google say they are. These children struggle with the different levels of food and will get stuck at one certain stage. For example, they will only eat Stage 2 foods and not 3, or they will only eat biscuits that breakdown in saliva. They have figured out what is safe.

For other children, it is about the taste, smell or texture. These children are your sensory eaters. They may have different sensitivities throughout the structures of their mouth. They have learned to reject everything except soft foods like cheese pizza, chicken nuggets, and mac and cheese. They become resistant and will limit their diet to less than 10 foods. They will not eat no matter what. These children could require intensive therapy.

Help is available

Picky eating can be helped. There is a solution; it doesn’t have to be a lifetime of struggles. Start by talking to your doctor. If warranted, see a therapist. Trust your gut instinct as a parent. The person who knows your child the best is you. Know that we are there to help you if you need us.

– Magda Girao, OTRL CST-D, works in pediatric rehabilitation at the Beaumont Health Center.

Put your best foot forward

Close up of feet walking on a colorful lit floor

Cropped image. GPS, Flickr. CC license.

I’m stubborn. I learned from one of the best — my Dad. He and I are very different in so many ways, but way too similar in every other way. My inherited stubbornness recently nearly led to my downfall. Let me explain.

First, I was in a job that I dreaded going to each day. So much so that I went to the doctor (which is a big deal, more on that later) because I got physically ill nearly every morning. Why? Because I didn’t want to go in to work. It just wasn’t for me, wasn’t the right situation for me, and because of a number of varying factors, my self-esteem was at an all-time low.

I allowed people to get in my head, which made me second- and third-guess myself on everything I did. Seriously, I questioned every word, every comma for nearly a year — which isn’t a good thing for a writer. I had trouble looking for a new job because I didn’t have the self-confidence needed to interview. I became a shell of my former self.

We parted ways finally, and I found myself having to find those bootstraps people always talk about and start pulling. I found them at the gym and went nearly every day for a few hours to clear my head. Everything was going well until I formed (and popped) a blister on the ball of my foot. I tried to “play through the pain” but it was too much, so I went to the doctor to get it looked at.

Everything was going fine until our insurance went away after the job loss. We looked into getting different types of insurance, but by the grace of God and the help of an old friend, I was able to get a great job with a great company … with even better people!

The foot was OK and got better for a bit, then unfortunately it got infected and I had to see a specialist. Treatment was fast and swift, but the foot wasn’t responding to the treatment. That meant going to go see another specialist. Remember, I’m stubborn and hate doctors; but when one mentions “amputation” you drop the stubbornness. After getting a second opinion, I’m working with a new team of doctors who haven’t used the “a”-word and I’m on the mend.

So what do my trials and tribulations have to do with a parenting blog?

Simple. If you find yourself in a situation — be it a horrible work situation or a bum foot — you have to take care of yourself and do what’s best for you, because nine times out of 10 the best thing for you is the best thing for your family.

Take care of yourself and you’ll take care of your family.

– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.

How can I tell if my child is really talking?

Two baby girls "talking" on a bench

Unaltered image. Dean Wissing, Flickr. CC license.

Communication begins at birth, but talking is harder to define.

A newborn initially communicates primarily by crying, then soon after, eye contact, smiling, laughing and vocal play emerge. A child of 6 months is generally babbling, using sounds in repetitive sequences (e.g., “bababa,” “dadada”), including intonation, to communicate mood. Before any real words emerge, babies should be making a lot of sounds, both independently and in imitation.

Children are expected to use their first real word around the age of 1 year, with the most common words being “dada” or “mama.” (Sorry Mom, the /d/ sound is easier than /m/, so many babies say “dada” first!) Sometimes the first word is “hi.” Sometimes it’s “no.”

So how can you tell if something your baby says is really a word?

Since babbling can sound similar to real words, it might be difficult to know whether a vocalization can be considered a true word. It really comes down to consistency and intent. A word, no matter how clear, is a true word if it is used consistently for the same specific purpose.

For example, a child who always says “mama” when looking for his mother and interacting with her is likely to be using it as a real word.

However, a child who says “mama” all the time, while interacting with his mother, but also while playing with his toys, looking out the window, sharing a snack with dad, and waking up from a nap might not be using it as a real word. The word isn’t being used specifically for his mother.

Another potentially confusing element of learning to speak is jargon. Jargon is characterized by long strings of unintelligible sounds that include adult-like stress and intonation. Quite simply, it sounds like your child is speaking a language you don’t understand. Is this talking? Kind of. While jargon is not made up of real words, it is part of the process of children learning to converse like adults. Further, real words may be mixed in with long strings of jargon. It is a good idea to respond to jargon, and the intermittent real words within it, as if your child is talking with you. Jargon should peak around 18 months, and then decline as children’s expressive vocabulary and utterance length increase. You can read more about expressive language skills here.

If you have questions about your child’s language development, talk to your pediatrician, or contact a speech-language pathologist.

– Kellie Bouren, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist, Children’s Speech Pathology Department, Beaumont Children’s

Holy Toledo! Run, don’t walk to the Toledo Zoo

Girl in pretend egg and boy in pretend nest

My kids loved pretending they were animals.

My brother-in-law always says that with kids, if you’re not on offense, you’re on defense. He’s right, so I put a lot of effort into keeping my kids occupied (keeping my kids occupied = maintaining my sanity).

In the spirit of parents helping parents, I recently discovered the Toledo Zoo. Many of you have probably visited already, but for those who have only thought about it, stop thinking and go. It’s fantastic!

I just took my 4.5-year-old twins. The 90-minute car ride went easily. It was the kids’ first time out of state, so when I told them they were in Ohio, they asked “What’s Ohio?” I explained it’s another state, and we live in Michigan. That’s when my daughter said, “Are we still on our planet?”

Sort of. We’re in Ohio.

Enough Ohio bashing. Back to the day trip.

The directions the zoo has posted online were spot on, so once we got off the freeway, I had no trouble finding it. Also, they participate in reciprocating zoo memberships, so if you’re a member of the Detroit Zoo, bring your card and you’ll get 50 percent off admission. For two adults and two kids, it was $35 to get in, plus $7 for parking.

People told me that you get to be closer to the animals at the Toledo Zoo, and they weren’t kidding. It’s a very hands-on place full of activities and learning experiences for the kids. There’s even a zipline over the giraffes!

A man, little girl and little boy standing close to aquarium tank

The aquarium tanks make it very easy for kids (big and little) to get close to the sea life.

It’s a big place — you park on one side of the road and walk over a pedestrian bridge to the other side of the zoo. The kids saw real elephants for the first time, touched starfish, built a nest and hatched from an egg. The highlight for me was the new aquarium. Beautifully done — and air conditioned — the aquarium has several “touch” experiences and easy-to-see tanks.

This zoo is built for kids. It’s almost a theme park/zoo. They have a splash pad, an indoor forest learning center, and two playscapes complete with rock climbing walls that even my littles scaled without a problem. There’s also a children’s area where kids can play and grown-ups can hunt Pokémon. Seriously. They were all over the place. So were Pokéstops.

Not having any faith in the quality of zoo food or the desire to spend an arm and a leg, I brought a picnic lunch, but there were plenty of eating options. One of the café areas is in the building that used to house bigger animals, like tigers. Patrons ate in the steel-bar cages that long-ago housed carnivores, as the etched stone at the top of the building proclaimed. It was a cool experience.

Be warned, we decided to get an ice cream treat in the heat of the afternoon, so we stopped at a stand. My son asked for his favorite chocolate ice cream. Do you know how excited he was when the lady handed him a full pint? Best. Mom. Ever.

And, yes, there were bathrooms everywhere.

All in all, I’d highly recommend this as a family day trip. We spent the entire day there and didn’t get to see everything. But it’s safe to say, we’ll be heading back.

– Rebecca Calappi is a Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples.

Meet the Parenting Program Staff: Stephanie Babcock

Mom and dad with a little boy

Stephanie Babcock, IFS Coordinator at Beaumont, Grosse Pointe, with her son Grayson (3) and husband, Tommie.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in St. Clair Shores, Mich. in a corner house that everyone in my neighborhood knew about and stopped by frequently. I now live in Marine City on the “Babcock compound” where my in-laws and sister-in-law are my neighbors on both sides of me! My family spends lots of quality time together and enjoys sharing in special moments with one another.

Tell us something about your family. 

I have a terrific husband, Tommie, who is my better half; a very energetic 3-year-old son, Grayson; and a  12-year-old Vizsla dog, named Red. Tommie and I married in October 2015 but were together for 6 years before marriage. We are currently expecting our second child in January; we’re waiting to find out soon if that bundle of joy will be pink or blue! (I’m hoping for pink to even the girl numbers in the household.)

Why did you choose to be part of the Parenting Program?

When I was entering my bachelor’s degree in Social Work, I attempted to volunteer for the Parenting Program as my student internship. This was before I had my son and since I wasn’t a parent, I was unable to participate.

After I had my son and graduated with my master’s in Social Work, I found that the job I had was fulfilling and didn’t seem to accommodate my family life. When I found out that the Parenting Program was hiring, I instantly applied for the position. I’ve always enjoyed working on a preventative basis and the thought of supporting first-time parents is such valuable and needed work! I truly love and enjoy my job. The best part is helping parents in their adjustment to parenthood and watching them become confident and loving parents. The second best part of my job is the free baby ogles.🙂

Who or what inspires you?

This is a tough question. I feel that I draw inspiration from multiple areas of my life. I am inspired by anyone who perseveres and fights for what they feel is right in their life. I am inspired by those who take their time to help others who are less fortunate. I am inspired by those who do the extraordinary. I am inspired by children, and works of art and music. I am inspired by extraordinary acts of kindness and pure joy that I see in this world. If I gave names this article would never end. Some of my most inspirational images that I try to model my own life after are Malala Yousafzai, Amelia Earhart, Liz Murray, Nelson Mandela, and more.

What are your hobbies or special interests?

I enjoy delving into a good book, surrounding myself with nature, hiking, camping, and spending time with friends and family. I also enjoy reading inspirational quotes, playing “tickle monster” with my toddler, and when I have more free time, I generally volunteer as well. Hopefully once things calm down after this year (when we move into our new house and welcome baby #2), I can volunteer once more.

Mom, dad and little boy in the woods

This last June, we went hiking in Michigan’s UP.

What’s your favorite family-friendly destination?

My family loves to travel to Florida; last year we even camped down there. I think this is a great family-friendly destination because of the numerous amount of activities available. You can hit up a free beach; go a historic museum; visit SeaWorld, Disney, the everglades, and more! The last time we went to Florida, we visited a Turtle Rescue to see the turtles recovering that may have been injured due to boating or fishing/trapping occurrences. It was such an amazing thing to witness. And not to mention the nice weather to escape to during a tough Michigan winter.

What’s your favorite movie? Book?

Since I don’t have a favorite movie, I’ll share a couple of my favorite books. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak is a good read, which is about a young girl who bravely and dangerously steals books during WWII in order to learn to read. “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult comes in a close second. My favorite parenting book I’ve read so far is “Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box: Cut Yourself Some Slack (and Raise Great Kids) in the Age of Extreme Parenting” by Anne Dunnewold.

What’s your favorite meal?

My favorite meal has changed over time. It used to be my mom’s homemade spaghetti. Since I’ve had my son, my tastes have changed a little bit and I would have to say a good quinoa, arugula, pine nut, and lemon dressing salad. Sooo yummy!

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Anything with vanilla, chocolate, or peanut butter. I can easily call it my favorite!

Share something about you that might surprise us

Hmmm … this is a tough one. I think the fact that most family and friends find surprising about me is that my husband and I built our home ourselves. Literally.

My husband has his builder’s license and along with the help of some family and friends (and my great in-laws who let us stay with them), we purchased the supplies and built our home ourselves! My husband did most of the difficult and laborious work and I helped out whenever I could. It took just over three years to complete building but now that we are in the house, we get to enjoy it mortgage free! We feel we are so much more appreciative of our home and the work that it took us to build it. My husband and I married in the backyard, and we love the fact that our two children will be able to say that we hand-built their childhood home!


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