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Friday, May 29, 2009

Healthy & Natural Food Choices for you Kids

From an article out of Redbook, I came across some information on making sure your kids are getting nutrition that is not only enjoyable to them but also safe. Research shows the US is adding GMOs (genetically modified organism) to its food supply, and parents are beginning to wonder if these are to blame for the rise in food allergies among their children. Cows are being injected with hormones to produce more milk, and insecticides are being used abundantly on crops to reduce the loss of them pests. But is the risk involved in taking such actions worth the health of our country, and specifically, our kids? That's still up for debate, of course, as is the mere question over whether or not these chemicals are, in fact, causing food allergies and hyperactivity in our youth. I say, better safe than sorry, though....

So how can we make sure we don't have to worry about every bite our kids take, and how can we do so on a budget with minimal time on our hands? I think it starts with getting back to some basics and watching out for a few ingredients. Here is a place to start:

*don't buy foods with artificial coloring, if you can help it. As the lady from the magazine said, she started with buying only the gold-colored goldfish crackers instead of the multi-colored. Then she would switch to the plain ones, and eventually pretzels instead of any goldfish crackers.
*buy products that are rBGH-FREE. You can purchase milk at WalMart, Safeway & Kroger, for example, that is rBGH (an artificial hormone)-free.

5 quick and healthy lunches both you AND your kids will love (courtesy of Redbook):
*bread with tomato sauce for dipping, an rBGH-free cheese stick or string cheese, & applesauce
*fresh bread, salami, carrots and left0ver dinner noodles with olive oil and/or grated cheese
*peanut butter & jelly on bread, color-free potato chips & a smoothie
*an English muffin with tomato sauce, rBGH-free cheese, deli meat, veggies or whatever they'll go for (i.e., whatever you can get away with!). finish the top off with the other half of the English muffin, and add a side of fruit.
*rice & beans with salsa or guacamole mixed in, alongside some fruit

And here are some quick, healthy snacks I've found we both love, as well:
*celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins on top (also called "ants on a log"), and kids love to make this snack, as well!
*frozen bananas or grapes (if you have some grapes about to spoil, freeze them - they're wonderful little refreshing pops of sunshine in your mouth - great for adults, too!)
*apples wedges with peanut or almond butter
*apple sauce (unsweetened) with granola & cinnamon sprinkled on top
*smoothies...what kid doesn't love these? take this opportunity to sneak in some items they usually fuss over (celery, carrots, nuts (almonds, walnuts), or even spinach, for example! as long as you mix it with enough sweet fruits, they won't realize what they're eating!)

The bottom line
Remember, whatever comes up out of the ground or off a tree is always a better choice than what's been processed. Mother Nature knows best, afterall. If you have the time, discover what grows in your region, and consider growing your own garden. You'll enjoy the experience and know what you're getting is one-hundred percent fresh without any chemicals! Kids love gardens, too, so it'd be a great learning lesson and bonding time for you. Talk to the gardener at your local nursery if you don't know what fruits, veggies & herbs you can grow around your parts. But if you dont' have time on your side, consider going organic if the budget allows. You don't have to do everything organic, but some items matter more than others. Another option to consider is joing a fruit or vegetable co-op group, where people pool resources to buy bulk produce to split up among themselves at a reduced cost. Bountiful Baskets is an option in Arizona; to check for organizations around you, search the web for "fruit and vegetable co-op" followed by your state and/or city.