Thanksgiving Science!

Turkey wtih rosemary and olives in baking dish

Unaltered image. Ruocaled, Flickr. CC License.

Have you ever caught an episode of the television show “Good Eats,” starring Alton Brown? It was a Food Network show that incorporated science, humor and interesting facts with cooking. Believe it or not, this show is the reason why I decided to go into the food science field. It combined all my favorite elements of science with my other favorite thing: food!

Whenever I cook, I also think about the science behind it. It’s one of my favorite things to share with all of those around me, whether they’re willing to listen or not. My kids are my best audience and, like most kids, they’re little sponges and love sharing the new information they just learned. What a great opportunity to teach and make food fun.

I use almost any occasion to talk about science, but what better time of the year to do this than Thanksgiving? With all the food we’re about to share with loved ones, and all the memories we’re about to make, we can take a moment to learn about a few things like why turkey makes us sleepy (does it?), the differences between sweet potatoes and yams, and how to cut onions without crying. I even have a link to a few experiments that you can do at home!

Turkey Talk. Many of us blame the turkey for our post-dinner drowsiness, but is the amino acid tryptophan really to blame? About Education has a newly updated article on the matter. It turns out that the food coma we experience is actually due to a combination of factors such as carbohydrate, fat and alcohol consumption (or overeating in general).

A Tear-Free Onion Experience. If you cook, you’re most likely all too familiar with the searing eye pain that comes with chopping onions. Why does this happen? Well, in short, those fumes that radiate from the onion actually contain a form of sulfur that, when in contact with the fluid of your eyes, combines to produce sulfuric acid! This article by Popular Science goes into more detail about this reaction, and you can find even more kitchen science within the article.

What steps can we take to prevent this reaction from happening? The author suggests chilling the whole onion for 30 minutes before cutting. An episode of “Good Eats” once taught me to cut onions next to the faucet with the water running so that the sulfur mixes with that water and not my eyes! It works!

Pass the Yams. Candied yams. Sweet potato pie. Can you tell the difference between a yam and a sweet potato? This article helps decipher the difference between the two tubers. If that isn’t helpful, check out this is useful flow chart.

Typically a sweet potato will have orange flesh when you cut it open. This also means, nutritionally speaking, that it contains over 100 times the amount of vitamin A than its white-fleshed counterpart, the yam! Aside from vitamin A, both are similar nutritionally and provide a good source of fiber.

Turkey Timers. Ever wonder how those little plastic sticks can tell you when a turkey is done? Did you know they are reusable? Read “How Pop-Up Turkey Timers Work”.

More Kitchen Science. If you’re interested in obtaining the perfectly cooked bird, creamiest mashed potatoes, or the flakiest crust, Popular Science offers a Turkey Day Chemistry in the Kitchen page.

Fall Leaves Falling. I also found an interesting podcast by Robert Krulwich, of NPR’s series “Radiolab” (my fave!). It explains why leaves fall from trees! Listen to it here. Maybe while you’re preparing (to eat) all that food?

Experimentation! I frequently visit Steve Spangler’s science blog for fun tricks and experiments for the kids. Here you can find an array of experiments, along with their videos. Keep guests of all ages entertained!

I hope you enjoyed the kitchen science I shared with you in this post. Maybe one of these topics will be brought up during your dinner discussion and you can share your newfound knowledge with those around you. Most importantly be sure to have fun, relax, savor the food and time with your loved ones, and be sure to make memories. If you want to see a Thanksgiving episode of “Good Eats”, you can find it here.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

– Joohi Schrader, is a nutrition and food science major at Wayne State University, a mother of three amazing children, and a certified Square Foot Gardening instructor. She’s also a Parenting Program volunteer.

The “Green” and Healthy Holiday Table

Thanksgiving dinner on a table

This Thanksgiving, approximately 278 million Americans will sit down with family or friends to enjoy a holiday meal. Traditional Thanksgiving dishes include cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, baked macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, and of course, turkey. In each of these special dishes, love—not unexpected chemicals—should be the only secret ingredient. Simple tips can help you keep unnecessary toxics off your holiday table.

The Main Course

  • Turkey and other meat. Look for Antibiotic-free.
    USDA Organic, which ensures that an animal is given 100 percent organic feed, has year-round access to the outdoors, and isn’t given growth hormones or antibiotics,can be hard to find. But, antibiotic-free meat is more readily available.

    • Why: Antibiotics are routinely given to livestock and other farm animals to promote growth or to fend off illness due to unsanitary conditions. In fact, approximately 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States aren’t administered to sick people, but are fed to generally healthy farm animals. This can lead to antibiotic resistance in humans, which can make treating a basic injury or infection (like a child’s scratched knee or an ear infection) a health emergency. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the 2011, 2012 and 2013 outbreaks of multi-resistant Salmonella have all been traced to ground beef and poultry. Drug-resistant bacteria can remain on meat from animals. When not handled or cooked properly, the bacteria can spread to humans. Learn more about how Beaumont Health System recently took a stand against antibiotics in food. Other terms to consider or be aware of:
      • No Hormones Administered. This term is approved for beef that hasn’t been treated with natural or artificial growth hormones. Hormones aren’t allowed in raising poultry and hogs.
      • Natural. Meat labeled as “natural” contains no artificial ingredients or added color and is only minimally processed. This term doesn’t indicate how the animal was raised or fed, or whether or not it was treated with antibiotics or synthetic hormones.
      • Free Range. Poultry has access to the outside. Size and description of the outside isn’t defined; it could merely consist of a cement slab. This term doesn’t mean the animal is pasture fed.
      • Amish Raised. Talk to the farmer or distributor about growing practices. There are no guidelines for this term.
      • Bio-accumulation. Remember to eat lower on the food chain whenever possible. Many environmental contaminants accumulate in animal fat and increase further up the food chain.

All the Fixings

  • Milk and Cheese. Opt for organic when possible.
    USDA Certified Organic dairy products are readily available at all major grocery stores.

    • Why: Toxics accumulate in animals and can be passed on through the milk. Organic dairy comes from animals raised without genetically modified organism (GMO) or pesticide-laden feed, growth hormones, or antibiotics.
  • Fruits and Veggies. Choose fresh or frozen.
    This is especially true for cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie and dishes that may contain canned goods. Fresh ingredients taste better and don’t haveto be more complicated. Buy beans, grains and dry goods in bulk whenever possible. Also look for packaging made of glass, paper, cardboard or aseptic cartons. Remember to support local farmers and farmers markets.

    • Why: Most cans are lined with Bisphenol-A (BPA). Plastic wrap and plastic tubs can contain phthalates, such as DEHP. Both BPA and DEHP are plasticizers and can migrate into the food within the container, especially acidic ingredients (like tomatoes) or fatty ones (like dairy). Both BPA and DEHP are endocrine disruptors linked to an array of health effects ranging from reproductive disorders to neurological impairments, obesity, and cancer. These two chemicals are also similar in that food and food packaging are considered the major source of exposure for those most at risk: children. (Sources: Environment and Human Health, Inc., National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, BPA: Uncontained Danger).
    • Some companies use alternatives to BPA in some or all of their canned products. Check here for BPA-free cans. The Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff lab is currently testing food packaging for toxic chemicals. You can sign up to receive report releases and other updates at www.healthystuff.org.

On a Budget

  • Save money and reduce toxics.
    Check the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which lists conventionally grown produce that is consistently low in pesticides as the Clean Fifteen™ and those highest in pesticides as the Dirty Dozen. EWG estimates a 92 percent reduction in the volume of pesticides consumed when choosing five servings a day from the Clean Fifteen™ compared to the Dirty Dozen™. Remember organic or not, the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables outweigh risks of pesticide exposure.
  • Here are a few tips:
    • Replace potatoes with sweet potatoes, which are consistently lower in pesticides.
    • Onions, corn, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant, cabbage and mushrooms are all on the Clean Fifteen™.
    • Get creative with sauces made from pineapples or mangoes; they are on the Clean Fifteen™.
    • Opt for organic for apples and celery; they are consistently at the top of the Dirty Dozen™. Also look for organic peaches, spinach, bell peppers, lettuce, and kale or collard greens.

Why: Pesticides can weaken the nervous, immune and reproductive systems, disrupt hormones, and cause a range of illnesses. The U.S. Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 recognizes that children are more susceptible than adults to harm from pesticide exposure through food.

Leftovers

  • Use ceramic or glass, instead of plastic when using the microwave.
    • Why: BPA, DEHP and other chemicals in plastic migrate into food more readily when plastic is heated.

– Melissa Cooper Sargent, Environmental Health Educator with LocalMotionGreen at Ecology Center. For more information, you can email her at melissas@ecocenter.org  or visit http://www.ecocenter.org/lmg. 

Healthy Meals on the Go

Mason jar of yogurt, granola and fruit

This is my Breakfast in a Jar. It’s healthy, delicious and easy to customize.

It’s back to school time again! For some of you that also means back to sports, dance, gymnastics, or any other extracurricular hobby that keeps your family busy all week. Sometimes it seems as if those activities are scheduled right in the middle meal time and rarely in between. That usually doesn’t leave much time for cooking a nice, hot, healthy meal. Fast food and take-out are the most convenient but aren’t very healthy, and certainly not easy on the pocketbook. Of course you could grab a snack on the way out, and come home to a crock pot meal or a casserole that needs to go in the oven. But wouldn’t it be nice if there was another way to enjoy a quick, healthy, even potentially hot meal while on the go?

Our family is always on the go. I’m in school full time. My husband works seven days a week with hours that result in me parenting alone most days. My oldest son has tutoring twice a week, my daughter has ballet, and all three kids play soccer with practices and games two or three days a week. We won’t even mention the amount of the dreaded “H” word we have every day. I can tell you that eating out is very tempting! And though many restaurants offer a variety of healthy options, the cost can really add up.

A couple years back I decided that I had enough things to worry about and that dinner shouldn’t be one of them. As a student I usually don’t have time to sit and eat, so I took my own personal routine of making my meals portable and did the same for our children. I got creative and came up with some meals (I like to call them “meal hacks”) for any time of the day that are quick, easy, healthy and delicious! These options save time, clean up and money, and have the added benefit of being healthier for you and your active and growing kids!

Breakfast Choices

Mornings are always a time when we need food to-go. If your kids are anything like mine, they have no urgency at all, so having a nice breakfast would make us even later than if we just grabbed a cereal bar and headed out the door. Here are a couple of breakfast ideas.

  • Breakfast in a Jar. I have this almost every morning and it’s really easy to customize. The basic ingredients are:

o     Plain Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is made differently than regular yogurt and packs about 15–20g of protein (compared to 9g in regular). Buying plain eliminates the unnecessarily added sugars from the flavorings.

o     Granola. Its extra fiber helps lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol, control blood sugar levels, provides a dose of healthy omega-3 fats, and includes vitamins like thiamin and folate, minerals, and antioxidants. It also keeps the kids feeling full longer and “regular” in the potty department. You can make your own homemade granola, but there are also some healthy options at your grocery store (just be sure to check the labels).

o     Fruit. Berries are another great way to pack in some additional vitamins and nutrients.

o     Honey. Adding a little drizzle sweetens things up a bit.

  • Breakfast Smoothies. For a quick breakfast, blend some fruit (e.g., bananas, strawberries) with Kefir (pronounced “KEE-fer”). Kefir is like yogurt, but more liquid and drinkable. It also contains more probiotics and is a great source of calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins and protein.

Lunch/Dinner Choices

  • Pizza dough pockets. These take some time to make, but you can stuff them with your choice of hot or cold filling, then wrap it up with some foil and you’re good to go! Start with either homemade or pre-made dough. (Making your own dough provides the added benefit of having fewer preservatives and you controlling the ingredients. Here’s a good recipe. Next, stuff the dough and make your own version of a Hot Pocket – pizza; or chicken, cheese, and broccoli; or mini stromboli.
  • Hot dog bun meals. I’ve used hot pulled pork/beef/chicken that was made in the crock pot the day before. Egg/tuna/chicken salad also works great in a bun if you want something cold.
  • Pitas. Some options include:

o     Hummus with veggies and feta

o     Deli meat and cheese

o      Salads of all types work great

  • Whole wheat taco shells or wraps.

o     Fill with scrambled eggs, cheese, and ham.

o     Make quesadillas

o     Turn them into sandwiches like BLTs

Container Options

  • Mason jars. You’ll notice my breakfasts are all in a Mason jar. That’s because it’s my favorite container for meal travel. The jars fit perfectly in a car’s cup holders and clean up is simple. All you need to do is bring a spoon (plastic or reusable) and you’re good to go! Just remember to bring the lids and rings to seal the jars up when you’re finished so nothing left over spills out. Those also keep the smell to a minimum; think hot car + yogurt = not the freshest of scents! You can also use mason jars for things like soup, chili, pasta…the possibilities are endless.
  • Edible food containers wrapped in a foil pouch. These (e.g., buns, wraps, etc.) are easy, quick are also pretty self explanatory. Try to stick with whole wheat and/or whole grain items so you get all the nutrients that are lacking in the ones made with refined grains. Whole grain versions provide more energy, along with fiber, iron, B vitamins, and antioxidants that aren’t found in fruits and vegetables. You can read more about whole grains and their benefits at the Whole Grains Council.

Final Thoughts

  • Eating a variety of foods daily is an easy way to ensure your family is getting all the nutrients they need. Try to incorporate a variety of healthy lean meats, dairy, and fresh produce.
  • Some of these items might take a little preparation, but be creative and adventurous! You might start off with just a ham and cheese, but then add in a slice of tomato or onion next time, or try Muenster instead of cheddar. Maybe you’ll get crazy and throw in some fresh avocado slices into that BLT!
  • It’s really important to let the kids have fun, too! Sometimes when children feel they have a little more control over what they eat, they’re more likely to eat it.

Has anyone else made some great to-go type meals? If so, please share! I’d love to hear what’s worked for you!

– Joohi Schrader is a nutrition and food science major at Wayne State University, a mother of three amazing children, and a certified Square Foot Gardening instructor. She’s also a Parenting Program volunteer.

Sources:

“Kefir Benefits: 12 Things to Know About This Yogurt-Type Food.” http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/09/12/kefir-benefits_n_3914818.html

“Whole Grains 101.” The Whole Grains Council. http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101

Heidi’s Hints: Back-to-School Lunch Ideas Made Easy

Is everyone gearing up for back to school? I know we are! Grayson just picked out his “most favorite dinosaur backpack ever” with matching lunchbox, and it got me thinking … I need some lunch ideas. I already meal plan for dinners so I don’t need to worry about what’s for dinner, but I need to have some good “go to” lunches ready or else I’m going to have “What’s for lunch?” stress on my hands!

Grayson goes to an extended day preschool program and eats lunch at school. Since he’s a picky eater, it can be quite a challenge to find lunch ideas that he’ll actually eat, that are nutritionally balanced, and easy to pack. He pretty much refuses to even look at a sandwich unless it’s a PB&J.

I’m sure many of you run into this same challenge. If you have older children who have the option of packing or buying a lunch, the challenge to get them to eat a nutritionally balanced meal can be even greater.

To help us all out, I put together some delicious, quick and easy lunch ideas. I’m also sharing some of my favorite lunchbox “tools” to make packing a healthy lunch easy. Spoiler alert: this is not a post on bento box lunches; I wish I had time to make a sunshine out of cheese slices but most days that’s just not in the cards. One thing that I try to stick to is preparing Gray’s lunch the night before. I’ve found that it relieves so much stress in the morning when I already have a million things to do just to get us out the door on time!

Photo of filled lunch containers

The Rubbermaid Lunch Blox are so great for packing lunches. You can configure them in different ways to fit into the lunch box and they come with their own ice pack that fits between the containers.

Option 1: Make your own “lunchable”

There’s a reason why these pre-packaged meals are so popular: they’re easy and kids love them! However, they are heavily processed and filled with preservatives, added sugar and sodium. Solution: Make your own! They’re quick, easy to prepare, and you control the quality of the ingredients. I like to use some of the following items:

  • Nitrate free, organic lunchmeat. Applegate Farms has many delicious options (e.g., turkey, ham, salami, etc.) and although a little pricier than their non-organic counterpart, I’m usually able to get three or five lunches out of one pack of lunchmeat, making it around $1/meal for the lunchmeat.
  • Organic string cheese or cheese sticks. Costco carries this for a great price! Sometimes I sub the cheese out for a Kefir squeeze pack. Lifeway Probugs are our favorite. The kids love the flavors! I love that they are a great probiotic source, and they are lower in sugar than most of their yogurt counterparts.
  • Crackers or some other carb. Popcorn is one of Grayson’s favorites.
  • One fruit and one vegetable. Grapes and blueberries are a favorite around here along with bell pepper slices and carrots. Sometimes I add a little ranch dressing for dipping because we love ranch!
  • And because dessert is important, I pack a “healthy” version of one of their favorites. My kids really like Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks because, well, they are fruit snacks. I really like them because they don’t contain any artificial flavoring or dyes.
Healthy food in lunch containers

Here’s a sample lunch for Gray.

Option 2: The “Not Peanut Butter” & Jelly

PB&J is actually a very healthy lunchtime option if you use natural peanut butter, an all-fruit spread, and minimally processed bread. However with so many schools being nut-free, the old lunchtime staple of PB&J is no longer an option. Fear not! There are many great peanut butter substitutes out there. If your only restriction is peanuts, then other nut butters such as almond or cashew butter are great alternatives. If your school is completely nut-free, then Sunbutter (made with sunflower seeds) is a great option. Once again, look for these in a natural form without added sugars and salt. They’re easy to recognize if you look at the ingredient list because the only thing you need to see in the ingredients is the actual product itself (i.e., almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds) and nothing else.

For some reason, Grayson is much more likely to eat his sandwich when I cut it out with a cookie cutter. I’m not much into the”crafty lunch thing”, but I do get a little creative sometimes.

Option 3: Leftovers

My favorite! I love packing leftovers for several reasons:

  • They’re easy; you already made the meal! When storing leftovers after dinner, just put them directly into lunch containers. Voilà, lunch is ready!
  • You can offer a lot of different variety by using your leftovers. You can serve them in the same preparation as last night’s dinner or spice them up. Just change/add a few ingredients and you have a completely different meal. For example, chicken from dinner can become a chicken roll up sandwich the next day.
  • Leftovers for lunch reduce food waste. I always saved our leftovers, but we rarely ate them either because we didn’t feel like eating the same thing for dinner twice or there wasn’t enough left over for a full meal for all of us. At the end of the week, I was throwing away a lot of small amounts of leftovers. That was until I realized that these smaller portions are really the perfect lunch-sized portions. If your kids don’t have access to a microwave at school, purchase a small lunch-sized thermos to keep meals hot. These are my favorite for the kiddos.

I hope this helps give you some quick and easy lunch ideas that you can feel great about serving, and your kids will love eating!

Meal Planning Advice? Questions? Recipes? Resources? Feel free to email me at wilsonswildtree@hotmail.com.

– Heidi Wilson, Heidi’s Hints: Meal Planning Made Easy

Heidi’s Hints: Plan the Perfect Picnic

Photo of a picnic basket

Cropped image. Jeremy Noble, CC License.

Summer is finally here, and it couldn’t come soon enough for our family! After a long winter, the kids and I couldn’t wait to get outside. We’ve been spending a lot of time at the park, the beach, and in our own backyard. One of Grayson’s favorite things to do is to have a picnic outside. Sometimes we sit on the deck or a blanket in the backyard, or sometimes we’ll bring a lunch when we go to the park or the beach. If you have a picky eater or a child that has trouble at mealtime, this is a great opportunity to switch up your meal routine. There’s just something about being outside with the nice weather and change of scenery that can make a usually mundane task like lunch seem so much more exciting to your children!

Here are a few picnic tips and tricks:

  • Don’t limit picnics to lunch or dinner. A pajama breakfast in the backyard is a really fun way to start the day!
  • Prepare in advance. Pack up your picnic the night before once the kids go to bed so that in the morning you can just grab and go. I also pack a small bag that has wipes, paper towel, a bib for Ellie, and a blanket (if necessary). Since Gray and Ellie are still pretty little, I find that a picnic location with a table works best for us so that they aren’t trying to balance their food on a blanket—especially since there is a lot of up and down and running around that usually takes place during our picnic .
  • Keep It Simple. Finger foods are key. I like to bring only items that we can eat with our hands or a straw such as veggies, fruit, crackers, sliced meats, squeeze yogurts, string cheese, smoothies, water bottles, etc. Keep in mind that if something needs a fork or a spoon it probably will also need a serving spoon and a container to put it in, which are just more items that you need to bring with you and take home.
  • Don’t forget the ice packs to keep your food cold and fresh. I recently saw a great idea for a homemade ice pack—wet a sponge, pop it in a sandwich bag, and toss it in the freezer until ready to use. Bonus: the sponge will keep the water absorbed as it starts to melt so you won’t have a leaky lunch.
  • Plan for the cleanup. I always bring wipes, paper towel (in case we have a bigger spill), and a plastic grocery bag to use for garbage.

Hopefully, you can use some of these tips to help plan a fun picnic with your family. Just remember that you are creating memories not a postcard so keep it simple and have fun!

Questions? Recipes? Resources? Meal Planning Advice? Feel free to call me at (248) 259-9634.

– Heidi Wilson, Heidi’s Hints: Meal Planning Made Easy

From Seed to Table: A Great Way to Challenge Your Picky Eater! (Beware: It’s Fun!)

Boy with young plants in garden

It’s fun seeing our plants grow from tiny seeds.

Remember the days when trying a new food with your baby was as simple as opening a jar? Those chubby cheeks would squeal with delight when a spoonful of squash or peas landed right on their taste buds. Once your children are old enough to tell you they don’t want to try the green beans, or push their plate away because they can see tomatoes in the spaghetti sauce, you may be wondering where your once-adventurous eater went!

Grow Your Own Food

A really fun way to get your kids curious about fruits and vegetables is to help them to grow their own. I found great success in getting my children to try new foods when we garden as a family. You can do this whether you have a garden at home or simply have some patio pots lying around.

There are a lot of vegetables that can be grown in containers big or small: lettuces, mini carrots, radishes, green onions, beets, beans, peas, potatoes, and even zucchini. There may not be a lot of time left to grow some of the plants, but in July, you can certainly try to grow radishes, lettuces, cucumbers, beans, and some others from seed. If you aren’t sure what you can grow, check the back of the seed packet as a guide. Some plants really enjoy the shade, so know that you are not limited to the amount of sunlight your plants receive!

Plants Amount of Light
Carrots partial sun
Peas partial sun
Cucumbers full sun
Beets partial sun
Beans (bush variety) partial sun
Basil full sun
Kale partial shade
Parsley partial shade
Radishes partial sun
Turnips partial sun
Lettuce partial shade
Green Onions full sun
Spinach partial shade

Full Sun = more than 8 hours of direct sunlight

Partial Sun = at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight

Partial Shade = no more than 2 to 4 hours of direct sunlight a day,
or filtered sunlight all day

A good way to start is to plant one seed, remembering that you’ll get one plant per seed. In some cases, you can plant two seeds to make sure one of them germinates. If they both sprout, just snip off the weaker one with some scissors. For really tiny seeds, like lettuce and carrot seeds, a pinch will do. Again, snip off the weaker sprouts. Also, be sure to note the “planting depth” on the back of the seed packet.

As you will see, the plants go through stages as they grow. Even as a tender seedling it’s hard to tell which plant it will turn into.  Once the plant is ready, have your kids harvest it and clean it off.

Time to Eat!

Work together as a family to look up some interesting recipes and chose one that they like. You’ll be surprised at how much more enthusiastic kids will be when trying new foods if they get to decide! Another idea is to find an age-appropriate preparation or cooking task for them to get them involved. Keeping them involved from seed to table is a great way to encourage what I like to call “adventurous eating” (seriously, what kid doesn’t love the word “adventure”?).

Make Gardening a Game

  • Match the Seed to Its Plant: Make a grid on some paper, or put seeds in a baggie and try to have the kids guess what the seed will turn into when you plant it. The kids love to feel the seeds and try to guess. Even I was surprised at first!
  • Guess the Seedling to Its Plant: This works if you planted a variety of seeds. To keep the fun going, pick up some note pads, or make your own mini research notebook. Have your child draw the seed, then the seedling, and keep notes as it grows. What do the leaves look like? Is the stem fuzzy, smooth, prickly? What do the flowers look like? And finally, what grew?
Seeds and paper for guess the seed game

Here’s my setup for the “Match the Seed to Its Plant” game.

You may not turn that picky eater into a foodie over night, but this is a great way to make healthy eating fun. Before you know it, you’ll have fewer plates pushed away at dinner and more children asking you to make that bean dish again!

– Joohi Schrader is a nutrition and food science major at Wayne State University, a mother of three amazing children, and a certified Square Foot Gardening instructor. She’s also a Parenting Program volunteer.

Beaumont Cooking Demonstrations: Clean Eating

What is Clean Eating?

Clean eating is defined as consuming whole, natural foods that haven’t been processed. It is a lifestyle, not a diet.

Benefits

Those who choose to eat clean may experience weight loss, increased energy levels, reduced disease risk, shinier hair, clearer skin, and an improved mental state.

Simple Guidelines for Success

  1. Eat small frequent meals 5–6 times per day to level blood sugar and prevent hunger.
  2. Include lean protein, complex carbohydrates and heart healthy fats in each meal choice.
  3. Avoid processed and/or refined foods (e.g., sugar, baked goods, candy, white flour, white rice, etc.).
  4. Avoid trans fats.
  5. Avoid sodas, high calorie juices and other drinks that give your body no nutritional value and lots of unnecessary (unwanted) calories.
  6. Avoid high calorie, non-nutritious foods like junk food.
  7. Drink at least 8 cups of water per day.
  8. Eat lots of plants. Eat food that is straight from nature (“as close to the way nature made it as possible”).
  9. Read nutrition labels for nutrition information and ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t put it in your body.

A Live Cooking Demonstration

The demonstration menu includes a kale and potato hash with poached egg topper, a Tuscan tuna melt, a chipotle chicken taco salad, and mocha banana ice cream.

  • When: May 13, 2014 from 6–7 p.m.
  • Where: The Beaumont Health Center, Royal Oak Demonstration Kitchen at 4949 Coolidge Hwy, Royal Oak, MI 48073.
  • How to Register: Sign up online or call (800) 633-7377.

– Mary Ligotti-Hitch, R.D., a registered dietitian with the Beaumont Health Center’s Weight Control Center