Food Art for Kids

With the explosion of crafting websites such as Pinterest and food blogs, more and more families are returning to the kitchen … and I love it! While it’s completely fine to indulge in some of the high-sugar concoctions that are quite tempting on these websites, be sure to not overlook the recipes that offer a healthy twist!

Research consistently shows that the more involved your kids are in the kitchen, the more likely they are to follow healthier eating habits.

Food Art has traditionally been associated with the restaurant scene. Have you ever been served a meal that looked almost too pretty to eat? The combination of colors, textures and shapes of food can make all the difference if someone tries a menu item or not. Creating that “wow factor” at home is actually much easier than you think. This technique is incredibly useful in getting your picky eaters to try new foods such as fruits and veggies. While it may take just a little extra time to prepare a meal or snack, here are some of the potential benefits of offering fun and creative dishes!

  • Getting kids in kitchen. Research consistently shows that the more involved your kids are in the kitchen, the more likely they are to follow healthier eating habits.
    Some age appropriate kitchen activities can include:

    • 2 year olds: washing fruits/vegetables, layering food, breaking sugar snap peas, handing items to adults
    • 3 year olds: add ingredients, stir items together, name and count food, squeeze fruits
    • 4 year olds: peel hard boiled eggs or some fruits, help measure simple ingredients
    • 5 year olds: measure liquid ingredients, help cut soft food with a dull/plastic knife, choose new ingredients when grocery shopping

This also creates learning opportunities for the different food groups and what healthy benefits are associated with them. For example, eggs are a great source of protein, which helps us develop strong muscles as we are growing!

  • Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. If you asked the 10 year old version of myself for examples of snacks, I would’ve responded with: gushers, Dunkaroos, nutty bars and Flintstones push-pops. Rarely would I have associated fruits and veggies with snack food. Having fun with your fruits and veggies at snack times can help kids learn early on that snack time is another opportunity to nourish our bodies with optimal nutrients. This also helps place an emphasis on fresh food and limits consumption of processed foods and products with added sugars.
  • Small portions for small tummies! It can be easily forgotten that kids don’t need as large of portion sizes of food as adults do. A whole apple with 2 Tbsp of peanut butter may be too much food for a 2 year old; however, you can slice your apples thin to create butterfly wings and decorate them with peanut butter dots. This is a much more appropriate serving size choice for a toddler.

The wow factor! Being able to create a head-turning dish definitely gets my attention. If you’re like me, then you secretly receive a warm sense of satisfaction when your guests gobble up a dish you supplied at a party or gathering. Food art can help you turn the ordinary into extraordinary!

For more tips on food styling, please visit Kid’s Eat Right.

Click here to  see >>> The Crafting Chick show you a great way to transform ordinary kids’ snacks into backyard bug creations.

Research consistently shows that the more involved your kids are in the kitchen, the more likely they are to follow healthier eating habits.

Click here to see >>> Wit and Whistle’s Cookie Cutter Fruit Salad

Research consistently shows that the more involved your kids are in the kitchen, the more likely they are to follow healthier eating habits.

Click here to see >>> Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail’s Apple Teeth snack.

Research consistently shows that the more involved your kids are in the kitchen, the more likely they are to follow healthier eating habits.

3 Tips for Nursing Mothers

Alana E. Scopel, a Springfield Clinic Registered Dietitian, shares her top tips for new moms!

Alana E. Scopel, MS, RD, LDNHello! My name is Alana E. Scopel, MS, RD, LDN, and I am very excited to be joining the team of Registered Dietitians at Springfield Clinic! I completed my degrees in nutrition and dietetics at Illinois State University. During my time there, I had the opportunity to develop recipes and manage menus for day cares and provide nutrition education to day care providers. This was an excellent opportunity, as I have always loved working with children! I knew that I would enjoy providing nutrition education to this population and made this my goal after graduation. After completing my education, I took my first job as a Registered Dietitian at WIC (Women, Infants, and Children).

WIC is a nutrition program that provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding women, and to infants and children up to the age of five who are found to be at nutritional risk. The program provides food vouchers for participants based on their age and nutritional needs. For example, babies from 0-6 months can receive formula (or no formula if the mother is only offering breast milk) and jarred fruits, vegetables and fortified infant cereal for babies 6-12 months old. Fully breastfeeding babies that are 6-12 months who do not receive any formula from the program also receive jarred infant meats in addition to jarred fruits, vegetables and fortified infant cereal. Children ages 1-2 receive whole milk, 100% juice, eggs, whole wheat bread, brown rice, beans and a voucher for fruits and vegetables. Children ages 2-5 receive the same food package but low-fat milk in place of whole milk. Pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding women receive similar food packages.

WIC promotes breastfeeding as the healthiest source of nutrients for baby. Breastfeeding also has an outstanding amount of benefits for mom. Through my job as a Registered Dietitian at WIC, I became passionate about breastfeeding and educating mothers. In October 2014, I received my Certified Lactation Counselor certification. This certification allows me to provide the most up-to-date information to mothers. I assisted first-time moms, in addition to moms who had breastfed previously but encountered problems with their newest baby. In addition to assisting with the technicalities of breastfeeding, I was also able to educate about the importance of nutrition during breastfeeding.

3 Tips for Nursing Mothers

1) Continue taking your prenatal multivitamin. Your body has increased needs for nutrients while lactating. Daily intake and prenatal multivitamins affect the nutritional content of your breast milk and supports the health of you and your baby! Many prenatal multivitamins include DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, which some studies link to brain growth and development in babies. Omega-3 fatty acids may also be found in cold water fish such as wild salmon and mackerel. Eating 2 servings per week of these types of fish in addition to DHA in a prenatal multivitamin is likely sufficient.

2) Consume more calories. Women who are exclusively or mostly breastfeeding (with minimal formula supplementation) require more calories due to milk production. It is estimated that some women may need up to 500 extra calories per day while nursing. It is important to eat a variety of foods from all food groups to meet nutritional needs. Protein is especially important. Good sources include chicken, turkey, eggs, cheese, yogurt, beans, peanut butter, and nuts.

3) Drink water! It is easy for busy moms to ignore thirst if there is nothing nearby to drink. Although water is the ideal hydration source, your body can utilize water from many sources, including fruit, milk, tea, and other beverages.