Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Trick or Treat

Halloween is just around the corner.  We try to eat healthy (obviously - given the nature of this blog) and not let Halloween derail the healthy habits we work so hard to foster.  Halloween is NOT the beginning of holiday eating.

Here is how we manage a cavity-free Halloween:

1)  Make the focus on dressing up.  The kids love choosing  their costumes and picking out the finishing touches.  This year Hannah is going to be Cinderella and Ben is going to be Elmo.  Hannah made sure to point out that Cinderella does not wear a tiara, she wears a blue satin headband and matching choker necklace.

2)  Limit trick or treating to one event.  In my town there are many many opportunities for trick or treating.  Just about all the shopping centers, malls, and even zoo have trick or treat hours that are not on Halloween.   We only go trick or treating once, around the neighborhood on Halloween.

3) Eat most of the Halloween candy on Halloween night.  I know, this probably sounds crazy.  Normally I would not condone eating large amounts of sugar but it is Halloween.  I have read that it is better for your teeth to eat a heavy dose of sugar once (and then brush well) than to be constantly snacking on sugar.  My kids are allowed to eat as much candy as they want when they come home from trick or treating.  They are usually so overwhelmed that they only eat about 5 pieces.

4)  Get rid of the candy that isn't an absolute favorite.  There is no need to eat candy that you don't like just because it was free.  The neighbors will never know you threw it away.

5)  Switch Witch!!  Every year on Halloween we have a special visitor - the Switch Witch.  The Switch Witch is kind of like the Halloween version of Santa Claus.  Instead of leaving milk and cookies we leave the majority of the Halloween candy.  The kids each pick 10 pieces to keep and the rest is left on the table.  In the morning the candy is gone and a gift is left in it's place.  My kids typically only get new toys on their birthday and Christmas so this is very exciting to them. 

How do you handle Halloween in your house?  Do you place limits on the amount of candy allowed to be eaten at once?  Do you pass out anything other than candy?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

10 Commandments of healthy eating for parents

I received this as an e-mail recently and thought it was worth sharing.  We try to follow these guidelines in our home.

The 10 Commandments of Healthy Eating for Parents

It's as simple as counting to 10!
  1. Thou shalt not force, bribe or coerce thy child to eat.
  2. Thou shalt set a good example by eating at least five fruits per day thyself.
  3. Thou shalt make mealtimes pleasant.
  4. Thou shalt encourage thy child to help in meal planning, preparation, and cleanup.
  5. Thou shalt back off when mealtime becomes a power struggle.
  6. Thou shalt accept food "binges" as phases that will eventually pass.
  7. Thou shalt accept the fact that thy child is an individual and thus will dislike certain foods (and there may be many).
  8. Thou shalt not give up on introducing thy child to new foods. Thou shalt realize it sometimes takes 10 tries to get a child to accept a food.
  9. Thou shalt use this division of responsibility for eating: As the parent, thou art responsible for deciding when and what to serve. Thy child is responsible for deciding how much (if any) will be eaten.
  10. Thou shalt give thy child a multivitamin-mineral supplement if he is a picky eater.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sauteed green beans and mushrooms

Sauteed green beans and mushrooms

1 lb. green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1 lb. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
extra virgin olive oil

1. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with extra virgin olive oil.
2. Cook the onion and garlic over medium heat until they start to soften.
3.  Add the green beans, mushrooms, and a light sprinkling of salt.  Stir often until the veggies are soft and tender.
4.  Eat :-)

This side dish is ridiculously easy but it is very yummy.  It comes together in just a few minutes and goes great with many fall dishes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Food coloring is evil

Yesterday afternoon was a bad afternoon, very very bad.  Hannah jumped off the school bus talking a mile a minute about the cupcake she had in class to celebrate a classmate's birthday.  She was very excited about it which I understand.  We do not bake cupcakes very often so they are truly a treat for her.  She's 5.  In her opinion a surprise cupcake in school = best day ever!

Within 2 minutes of getting off the bus she was already picking on her little brother - snatching his toy trucks away and then throwing them at him when told to give them back.  You know it is a bad sign when a time out has been issued before we even make it through the front door!

All through the homework process Hannah fussed that she couldn't concentrate.  The homework was just too hard, she couldn't do it, clearly I hate her for making her write the number 2 a couple of times.  Oh, believe me when I tell you that my normally happy child was gone and no where to be found.  After some questioning, Hannah told me that the cupcakes were very very colorful ("like rainbows").

Now I see the problem.  Hannah and food coloring do not mix well.  It isn't surprising since food coloring is a neurotoxin.  Add it into a ball of sugar and wheat and pass it out in a party atmosphere and we have trouble.  Big trouble.  Put the kids to bed early and pour a glass of wine kind of trouble.

I don't know what I can do about this problem.  I certainly don't want to label it as an allergy with the school and have Hannah singled out during special events.  Honestly, it isn't the cupcake that bothers me.  There is plenty of room in Hannah's 20% for a birthday cupcake.  It is just the food coloring that bothers me.  If the cupcakes had been left white we likely would have had a better evening. 

I suppose there isn't anything I can do to avoid this.  Hannah is bound to have a colorful cupcake again this year.  All I can do is make sure we are stocked up on wine when I see a birthday coming up on her class calendar.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Real food expires

Follow the link to see what a McDonald's Happy Meal looks like after 6 months.  It might be different than you think!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Menu plan

I love stealing ideas for dinner from other people's menu plans.  Here is what we will be eating this week:

Monday - Chicken brocolli (and cauliflower) cheese bake
Tuesday - Roast beef (crock pot)
Wednesday - Grilled salmon
Thursday - Beef stew
Friday - Butter chicken
Saturday - Apple dijon chicken (crock pot)

Other things to make this week:
Trail mix
Chocolate chip cookies
Pumpkin "brownies"
Stuffed dates

Monday, October 4, 2010

Let the fall cleaning begin!

The air is finally starting to feel cool and crisp.  Around my house that means it is time to begin the annual tradition of fall cleaning.  I of course clean my house on a fairly frequent basis.  With two little kids and a dog there is hardly a day that goes by without at least a little cleaning.  I kick it into high gear in the fall (and again in the spring) though.  I love to air out the house and clean every nook and cranny before the weather becomes cold and we spend all day in the house.  To keep myself organized I have a binder with several pages of cleaning and organizing tasks to be completed for each area of the house.  I love crossing those tasks off the list!

If you spend much time in the cleaning aisle at the grocery store you might believe that you need all kinds of chemicals to get your house spic and span.  I don't think this is true.  The dirt might be gone but there could be a chemical residue in its place.  I clean the majority of my house using vinegar, water, and baking soda. Ben is one of those toddlers that is into everything and not remotely slowed down by standard babyproofing.  I can store my cleaning products under the sink with ease knowing that he can't be poisoned.

Vinegar is effective against some molds, bacteria, and germs.  I fill a new spray bottle about 1/3-1/2 full with distilled white vinegar and fill the rest with water.  This is a great multi-purpose cleaner.  I use it to clean my kitchen counters, bathroom sinks, dining room table, and any other nonporous surface.  It is also a fantastic window cleaner.  I think it does a better job cutting through the greasy fingerprints that seem to appear constantly on my windows and glass door than commercial cleaners.  Vinegar is an extremely useful and economical cleaner.  I buy those huge containers of distilled white vinegar for a couple of bucks and it lasts about 6 months.  $3 for 6 months worth of a multi-purpose cleaner is a great deal!

Have you ever seen those massive boxes of baking soda at BJ's and wondered who buys them?  I do!  Baking soda has a ton of uses, not just limited to cleaning.  I like to clean the bathtub with baking soda.  I hate to clean the tub with yucky chemicals and then give the kids a bath later.  I feel like they are sitting in chemical soup instead of fresh water.  I don't have that problem when I use baking soda.  Baking soda is nontoxic and safe enough to eat.  Sometimes I even add it to the tub to help with any diaper area redness.  My kids love when I clean the drains with baking soda and vinegar.  I just sprinkle in some baking soda and pour on the vinegar.  The drain fizzes right up, which always makes the kiddos laugh.  I then clear the drain with hot water.  Here are a few more ways to clean with baking soda.

With a little bit of planning and elbow grease you can naturally clean your home. Here are a few websites that offer specific cleaning advice:
The natural way to clean everything in your house
66 All natural cleaning solutions 
Natural cleaning recipes 

What fall cleaning tasks do you have planned?  How do you use natural cleaners?