Meet the Sullivans: Food for Thought + Menu Monday

March 30, 2015

Food for Thought + Menu Monday

One of the things I love most about sending Owen to a co-op nursery school is how involved parents are asked to be in the community of the school. In addition to the time each parent spends in the classroom, they are also expected to attend two parent meetings a year. Last week I attended the finally parent meeting of the year, which was a workshop about Feeding Your Child's Brain.

From the time I saw this workshop on the calendar I knew I wanted to attend. Owen, as you may know from reading here, is not a huge eater. He's a grazer and would prefer many small meals or snacks a day instead of three meals + plus snacks. He loves hot dogs, french fries and chocolate, but he is also known to eat handfuls of nuts and seeds, bowls of raw spinach and broccoli. He'll eat the good stuff, just not in bulk, so I'm really interested in how we can get the most nutritious bang out of every bite. 

Kandice Stellmon, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, walked us through all the ways we can feed our children to help their beautiful brains grow in the healthiest way possible!

A couple takeaways, interesting facts and great reminders from the workshop: 

Fatty brains I was unaware that our brains are mainly made (over 75%!) of fat, and that our brains really need healthy fats for optimal brain function. The best ways to get these healthy fats are from Omega 3 fats, which you can get from flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and hemp seeds. She also suggested everyone in your family taking a fish oil supplement.

Rule out crackers - Also emphasized how bad trans fats are for us, and really bad for our children, which I know, but it was an important reminder that while we're so used to giving kids things like Cheddar Bunnies or Chicken Nuggets, they have lots of preservatives. She stressed that kids really should eat fully clean diet with no preservatives if at all possible.

The Rainbow Effect fill plates for you and your children with as many colors as possible.

Supplements fish oil and vitamin D in addition to a multi-vitamin. I'll let you know how the whole fish oil thing goes for us!

For optimal mood and brain function offer children 5-6 small meals throughout the day and a snack after almost each meal.

Introducing new foods it can take up to 20 tries to get a child to try and / or like a new a new food and flavor.

The Dirty Dozen (i.e. fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated by pesticide use, according to the Environmental Working Group) apples were the worst offender again this year.

Food Affects Mood one of the best and most valuable points she made was that what we feed our children directly affects their mood, brain function, physical ability and comfort. Their little bodies are so sensitive!

So this week, after spending quite a bit of time thinking about making even more healthy choices, I decided to pull out some of my favoite healthy living cook books and pull some of our favorite recipes.

What's on our dinner menu this week:

Chicken & Wild Rice casserole + green salad
Superfood Salad
Pesto Meatballs with brown rice quinoa + veggies
Shrimp & Avocado salad with sweet potatoes
Pita Pizzas + green salad

snacks: Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls and Strawberry Basil smoothie


Momista Beginnings said...

I always love a good food discussion, especially when it comes to feeding my kid. I wish my daughter's preschool fed them healthy food at snack time. They get things like goldfish crackers, pretzels or different variety of cereal. Cereal! Once a week they have a parent volunteer to bring in fresh fruit. But...I have to say that I have fallen guilty to feeding my almost 3 year old, more crackers than she should have. Because of school, she's taken a strong liking to most crackers (the cheesy bunnies, Ritz, goldfish, etc.) and she requests snacks like these EVERYDAY, a few times a day. Of course, I don't give in to each request, I do make sure she eats fruits and veggies (which she's actually really great about eating) but I've noticed that I'm beginning to give less and less thought as to what goes in her mouth. I'm opting more and more for what's quick and easy and I never wanted to be "that parent". I like coming across posts like this that remind me how important my decisions affect my kid, especially when it comes to food. Thanks for sharing. It may be tough to ween my kid off of the crackers, but slowly I'm going to do away with them for good! (Except for preschool...ugh). -Misty

Laureen D said...

LOVE this. Thanks for sharing, such good reminders. I ABSOLUTELY believe, food/diet affects behavior, etc. in kids ESPECIALLY. That's why we try and limit sugar/preservatives as much as we can for our little guy (and ourselves). Great menu this week, I can always use more ideas. :)

Jenny said...

Really curious how you get Owen to take fish oil. We take fish oil (well when we remember) as a supplement but the pill is HUGE! I always forget about viatmin D... our drs in CO didn't think it was necessary with all the sun there (surprised it was advised in CA actually). Love the rest of the tips - thanks for sharing!

Samma_Faye said...

I'm pretty good about dinner, since my kiddos eat whatever we eat. My problem is snacks and lunches. Deeds especially is cracker obsessed, and neither one are big sandwich eaters.

karra tipton said...

Have you looked into supplementing for the fruit/veggie aspect. Rae's a snacker also.. and almost never veggies so we give her the kids amazing grass powder mixed into her milk every other night. I heard that mv aren't the best to give kids bc they only absorb less than half of it anyhow and foods the best route (when they actually eat;) ) I loved this so much!! We also try and stay away from red dyed anything because of how it affects behavior amongst other things!

Colleen said...

I have the same issue when O is at our gym childcare -- they only give crackers as snacks. I guess it makes sense since it's cheap and most kids are not allergic. Owen looooves crackers and chips and it's hard to get him to change his focus if he sees them.

Colleen said...

Thank you!

Colleen said...

I haven't given it to him yet. Still doing some research on brands. The nutritionist recommended to use the actual liquid fish oil instead of the pills b/c she says it is harder to get enough when it's in pill form. I'm going to mix it with a teaspoon of juice and put it in a little plastic cup -- hoping that makes it tempting!

Colleen said...

Me too! I fall back into my old habits so easily when we get really busy.

Colleen said...

Yes! Snacks are actually harder than meals. If he sees crackers or chips or pretzels he wants them and there is no stopping him. Nuts and air popped popcorn seem to satisfy him as well.

Colleen said...

I haven't really thought about supplement for fruits and veggies because I think O actually does a pretty good job eating them, but you can never have enough, right?! Thank you for the tip! And Yes, the dyes were another subject she touched on. I never really knew how bad they were!

Elizabeth said...

Do you currently give Owen vitamins? I've been wanting to give Mason some but I have NO idea which ones or what brands are best. There are so many and I'm just so afraid of giving him the wrong thing....

Colleen said...

We do! He takes the Gummy Vites gummy vitamins from Costco!