Wednesday, July 27, 2011

10 tips and tricks to get your kids to eat more vegetables

I know that there are many parents out there who struggle to get their children to eat more vegetables.  As I child, I hated vegetables and remember telling my mom that I was going to be a "meatatarian", someone who never ate veggies.  Once I was out on my own, I realized that I did not like a lot of vegetables growing up because I did not like how they were prepared and I was only introduced to a handful of them.  Here are some ideas to get your little ones to eat more veggies:

1- Encourage them to pick some vegetable seeds or starter plants to grow their own veggies in your garden.  This tip may be a bit late for this year, but you can always plan ahead for next year.  Growing and tending to a plant gives your child a feeling of ownership.  When harvest time comes, they will be excited to share their "creation" with the rest of the family, and likely to eat it themselves.

2- Let them choose a new vegetable each week at the grocery store or farm market.  We discovered a few years ago that my entire family loves beets, but only after my then 4 year old asked if we could buy the red bulbs when we passed them in the produce department.  If they choose something you are unfamiliar with, ask the farmer or a worker in the department if they have any suggestions.  If they don't, or even you just want some more ideas, get online when you get home and do a search for how to best serve this new vegetable.

3- Try new recipes.  If they do not care for certain veggies plain or if you tried them one way and they disliked them, do not write them off completely.  Try to find another recipe that has the same veggie in it, maybe in a less prominent role, or even just with different complementing ingredients.  My husband and I grew up hating Brussels sprouts, but when I found a fabulous recipe for them one day in the newspaper, my entire family now ASKS for them.

4- Try different cooking methods.  This goes along with #3.  If your child does not like the slimy feel of cooked spinach, try mixing some raw, baby spinach in with a salad or substituting it for lettuce on a burger.  For me, I hated broccoli growing up because it was boiled, but I absolutely love it now that I steam it. 

5- Let them have dip.  I always suggest kids not learn that the only way to eat veggies is smothered in dips, but sometimes this is a great way to begin introducing them to children.  Set out a tray full of dipping veggies (raw broccoli, baby carrots, celery, etc) and several cups of dips, such as ranch dressing, hummus, or French onion and let them dip away.

6- Sauces and cheese are okay, too.  For hot veggies, sprinkle a little cheese on top and let it melt or spoon on a little hollandaise sauce.  Again, the goal is to enhance the flavor of the veggies though, not overpower it.

7- Use a little secret seasoning.  I am also not a fan of hiding veggies on children, but I know that some kids simply refuse them no matter what.  In this case, finely chop up raw broccoli so that it looks like seasoning and use it liberally in sauces, macaroni and cheese, etc.  You can also use shredded carrots in meatloaf and in sauces typically undetected.  Mashed potatoes are another great way to add some veggies in virtually undetected.  Add some cooked cauliflower to the potatoes before mashing and they instantly blend right in or serve orange carrots by adding a few mashed carrots in to the potatoes.

8- Make it fun.  Get creative and use veggies to create a face on a plate that they can snack on or let them be creative and use veggies to decorate a pizza crust before you bake it. 

9- Involve them in the preparation.  Even the youngest child can wash veggies, but older ones can help peel and mix recipes together.  The more involved they are in the preparation, the more likely they are to partake of the finished results.

10- Take advantage of serving what they do like.  If you still find you have a child that will not eat more than 1 or 2 veggies, be sure to always have those veggies available to them.  As time goes on, try adding other veggies to their favorites a bit at a time.  If they like steamed broccoli, add a few red pepper slices next time or if they love corn chowder, add a few sliced carrots.  If they reject the new addition, they can pick them out.

The struggle to get kids to eat their vegetables is one that seems as old as time, but it can get better.  We all know they are good for us, but even many adults choose to avoid them.  Be sure you, and your spouse, and setting good examples and try some of the above tips and just see if it doesn't get a t least a little better.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Peas and Thank You blogging program for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway Info: Safe From the Past

About the Book:
A kidnapping, the divorce of her parents, the loss of her father, temporary abandonment and extreme poverty are just some of the issues the author dealt with as a young child. 

Her mother finally tells her she must go to college so she can break out of this cycle of poverty and hopelessness. But how can she when she has no money and absolutely no confidence or self esteem? 

Read this true story to discover what hope, faith and determination can do to change a life.

A truly inspiring, deeply personal tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships, Safe from the Past makes clear the restorative power of an education.

Told in an open, honest voice with the deepest sincerity, the author's life story serves as a rousing inspiration to those with the desire to create a better life than the one they are currently living.

No matter how helpless you feel, everyone has the power to shape their own life.

My thoughts:
This autobiography is a nice, quick read, that has potential to be a much longer book.  It tells the story of a woman who experienced more in her childhood than many of us ever face, who used those experiences to lead herself to a better life.  It took a lot of hard work, perseverance and, above all, faith, both in herself and others, but she was able to reach her goal of a college degree and move herself out of a life of poverty and despair.  Safe From the Past is a great motivator for those who think they cannot achieve their goal due to minor things.  If the author could overcome the odds she faced, then surely we can overcome lesser obstacles that stand in our way.  I would have loved even more to hear more about her childhood and her experiences, but there is definitely enough to allow the reader to understand the author's message.  I also liked that she briefly, very briefly, lived in Rochester, NY and worked at Perkin's, but that is simply because I live in Rochester and worked at Perkin's for several years myself (not while the author worked there though and likely not even the same Perkin's).

My recommendation:
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys autobiographies of living people and/or stories of overcoming difficult situations to achieve a goal.  Safe From the Past is also a fitting book for any older child of an alcoholic and/or an abused parent as it shows that it is okay to hope and dream.  It is also a great book to read if you are short on time or just want something you can read a chapter or 2 at a time.

Interested in what others think of this book?  You can can find more reviews at Litfuse.

About the author
Patricia worked in New York City's financial district for thirteen years in the field of securities operations. At that time, she went on to obtain an MBA from New York University. She and her husband moved to Dallas, TX in 2001 where they are raising their two children.
During her time in NY, Patricia wrote an article entitled "A Tribute To My Mother" which was published in "The Recovery Journal" in 1999. Her book is a continuation of that tribute and serves to spread the message to those in similar situations that good news is on its way to children considering a higher education but who are afraid to dream. For more information please visit,  

About the giveaway:
Litfuse is sponsoring a giveaway of a $30 Amazon gift card. 
To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #litfuse) about Safe From the Past or share about it on Facebook!
If you tweet we'll capture your entry when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know ( Easy. (All Litfuse bloggers who post a review are automatically entered and do NOT need to email us.)
Not sure what to tweet/post? Here's an idea:
TWEET THIS:  Safe From the Past by Patricia Mauro - inspiring tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships. #litfuse
FACEBOOK THIS: Don’t miss Patricia Mauro’s Safe From the Past  - inspiring, deeply personal tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships. Told in an open, honest voice with the deepest sincerity, the author's life story serves as a rousing inspiration to those with the desire to create a better life than the one they are currently living.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Almost 1 month later than promised, but I have a winner for the Wendy's gift card

I apologize for the lengthy delay in announcing the winner of the Wendy's gift card.  No excuses, but the toll of our month-long road trip, coupled with dealing with a so-called friend that hacked into my facebook account and caused a ruckus, caused me to severely limit my internet presence.  I finally am feeling like I have recovered enough to get back to work so without further ado: 

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2011-07-11 02:40:01 UTC

Comment 27 says:
LAMusing said... I follow you on Twitter

Congratulations!  I will be sending you an e-mail shortly.  Normally, you only have 48 hours to get back to me, but since it took me so long to choose a winner, I will extend the time to 1 week.  If I do not hear back by next Monday, July 18th, I will choose a new winner.