Helping Your Kids Create a Healthy Relationship with Food

SUGAR.  The new “bad word.” Yes I said it.  And we’re going to talk about it in todays guest blog.

As a child I had a friend who was forbidden from eating sugar at home.  Her house NEVER contained anything that might fall into the category of “unhealthy.”  I can still remember her coming to my house and looking for sugar with a kind of desperation that as an 8 year old, actually made me uncomfortable.  Why did she want that chocolate syrup so badly?  And when she got her hands on it, why did she dump the WHOLE bottle into her milk?  Yuck, I thought, now that’s not healthy.  And then on the flip side, as I got older, I watched so many girls and friends suffer as a result of their complicated relationships with food.  Food became the enemy as everyone tried to meet standards for themselves that were driven by fashion magazines and peer pressure to be thin.

Fast forward to today.  I’m a mom of two trying to set up healthy eating habits for my kids.  I often think about these “food relationships” that I observed as a child.  I have always loved registered dietician and mom Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and her take on “sometimes foods” and “all the time foods.”  And we’re so glad to feature her as guest blogger to lay out some tips and her thoughts on helping your family form healthy habits and relationships with food.  Thanks Laura for sharing your thoughts with us!

xMaggie

Nutrition Comes in All Forms AND the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Agrees!

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Mom

Sugar has definitely received a bad rap this past year. Its poor reputation is very similar to the negative press that fat received in years past. Research is constant and correlations are often made—while causation is rarely determined. As mothers and fathers, how does this affect they way you feed your child? Do you go with the latest diet trend? Do you impose your food beliefs on your children? If so, how are you talking with your children about these beliefs? Remember, when all is said and done, these are just beliefs—not necessarily black and white facts.

With this is mind, remember all food provides nutrition—even Skittles and saturated fats (i.e. coconut oil). However, I am not implying you should feed your kids a diet of sugar and saturated fats. Rather, I am suggesting that as parents, we must watch our wording and behaviors associated with various foods. Our children are smart and pick up on our food issues. Yet most children—like many adults—are not (yet) capable of separating food and feelings or such strong statements into rational thoughts.

Many RDs and parents want to scream, “Corn syrup is bad!” but telling your child this may be more harmful than helpful. I am trying to write this as delicately as possible, but think about it: Does a pack of candy or a bread made with corn syrup versus rice syrup really matter? No. Yet many moms label these as “bad.” As a mother of two boys, I do not completely negate these foods and constantly prefer that my boys eat more wholesome foods. As parents we must walk a very fine line in how we convey healthy habits to children. We may use different educational tools to discuss nutrient density, food processing, and overall diet quality, but it is also our job to prevent children from fearing their food, fearing weight gain, and fearing feeding themselves.

Instilling fear of food and feeding in a child can even be one of the contributors to the feeding disorder known as “Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder” (ARFID,) especially if a child is already prone to anxiety or is a picky eater.

You can be the mom that hands your children M&M’s some of the time. Know that sugar candy is converted to exactly that, sugar in the body. The brain only uses sugar; our muscles store sugar for easy access during long bouts of exercise (playing a long soccer game, playing outside all day long, or swimming in the pool for many hours as kids are wont to do).  While not an ideal food for growth, sugar still provides energy. Take into consideration that when we don’t make a big deal about these sugary foods, kids will be less likely to ask for them in the first place.

I have to admit, this is much easier to do in session with a client than in the everyday setting of raising my kids, but I try. And, I hope you will try your best too. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics relays that “exaggerated negative messaging that comes with oversimplification of foods classified as “good vs. Bad can easily translate to guilt, anxiety, and fewer about appropriate food choices.” Instead AND encourages a total diet approach and avoidance of blanket statements.

Hopefully, the message eases the guilt that some parents feel when they give their kids cookies at snack.  And for parents at the other end of the spectrum, perhaps AND’s message will relieve your anxieties when your children may eat a less nutrient dense meal at the neighbor’s house.

TIPS and TOOLS TO USE:

  1. Neutralize foods; rid the food hierarchy; avoid labeling food “good” and “bad”
  2. Instill a focus on learning to take care of your body
  3. Focus on how you feel after you eat (not you, but the child—do not impose your feelings on the child; he or she needs to make his or own decisions)
  4. Read the Mom Dishes It Out selected books
  5. Keep in mind – the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics emphasizes eating patterns not specific foods and nutrients

References:

Stein, K. Severely restricted diets in the absence of medical necessity: the unintended consequences. J Am Diet Assoc. 2014;114(7):986-994.

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September 11th, A National Day of Service and Remembrance

 

As a part of the New York City community, September 11th is very close to our hearts at Bitsy’s Brainfood. Today we pause to reflect on that day and remember those who were affected by the tragedy.

Just this past weekend we were out walking past the memorial fountain recessing into the ground and my son asked me, “Mommy, what is this?”  How to explain the darkest day in New York City and arguably America’s history to a young child?  The loss of so many lives and the incredible bravery and sacrifice of so many?  I don’t have the answer to this.

While the events of that day and the days that followed may be difficult to discuss with young children, we can teach them about what it meant to be an American on that day and every day.  We can empower them by example and by providing opportunities to give back to the community, to be kind, good, brave, and compassionate people.

As September 11th is deemed the National Day of Service and Remembrance, we like to take time to spread good will with our families by practicing acts of kindness throughout the day. Below are some of our favorite ideas that you and your family can do no matter where you live.

  • Drop off lunch or baked goods to a local firehouse
  • Mail care packages to service members stationed overseas
  • Grab a pair of gloves and clean up a park or playground
  • Go grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor
  • Write a letter to someone in need through moreloveletters.com
  • Spend a day at a soup kitchen serving lunch or a food bank sorting products
  • Volunteer at a local school painting walls and cleaning up
  • Go through your closets and donate gently used clothing to Good Will or Salvation Army
  • Donate toys to children in the hospital

If you are interested in learning about more ways your family can get involved in the community, here are a few resources:

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Back-to-School Loveable Lunch Ideas By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Mom

Back to School time!  Need a few smart lunch ideas?  Bitsy’s Brainfood’s favorite registered dietician Laura Cipullo is here to share some tips!

Back-to-School Loveable Lunch Ideas By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Mom

When meal prepping, be sure to include a carbohydrate, a protein, and a fat at lunch time (or any meal time) to help ensure that your child is adequately fed, evenly energized throughout the day, and without a blood sugar rollercoaster. Combining macronutrients is KEY especially if you have a child who is easily distracted, acts out in class, or comes home wiped out.

Here are some suggestions to get the first week of school off on the right foot.

Monday Lunch

Pasta/bean salad with cubed chicken sausage

Side: mandarin oranges; milk

 

Tuesday Lunch

Whole wheat quesadilla with pineapple salsa and red peppers

Side: Mango and yogurt

 

Wednesday Lunch

Lentil soup with corn muffin

Side: Carrots and pretzels with hummus; milk

 

Thursday Lunch

Teriyaki chicken satay with edamame and sticky rice (or rice crackers)

Side: Bitsy’s Brainfood Cookies (zucchini gingerbread carrot flavor is my favorite!)

 

Friday Lunch

Apple and cheese sandwich (can get fancier with different types of cheese like brie or goat cheese)

Side: Olives (one for each finger) and yogurt squeezer

 

The Tip Jar:

  1. Have your child help plan lunches—never surprise him or her or put a disliked food in his or her bag.
  2. Ask your child if they enjoyed their lunch so you know if you should send it again.
  3. Have your child bring home wrappers and containers in their lunch bag to see what he or she is or isn’t consuming.
  4. Let kids eat their leftovers at snack time (this will help prevent overeating at lunch).
  5. Pair carbohydrates with proteins and fats at each meal.
Have a great school year everyone!
Thanks again to Laura for sharing your wisdom with us!
Be Smart. Eat Smart.

 

 

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Easiest Granola meets Cookie Snack Recipe EVER!

 

Keep it SMART, SIMPLE and FUN.

I’m no gourmet, but I like good healthy food, especially when it comes to feeding my kids.  And I LOVE recipes that are easy for them to take the lead in making.

I am such a fan of this easy recipe that appears frequently with different variations. Think granola bar meets cookie meets YUM!  Simple ingredients that you already have in your kitchen, and it makes plenty for your money!

We are so often on the go, go, go – and I need things that are quick and healthy!  Do you?  If so… try this recipe with your kiddos.   All in, it will take you LESS than 15 minutes!  No mess, no stress… healthy and delicious!

Easy Oat Bites

3 mashed bananas

2 cups oats

A pinch or two or more of Flax Seed (and or Chia)

2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter, or whatever seed or nutbutter you love!

1 package of GoGoSqueeze Apple Sauce or 1/3 cup of apple sauce

Preheat oven to 350.  Mash the bananas. Mix in the rest.  Dollop it out onto your cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. 

I use Wheat Montana’s 7 Grain Cereal with Flax Seed instead of just straight oats… but the nice thing is that you can get gluten free oats – or whatever kind of oats you like.  You can also add in raisins, cranberries, carob or chocolate chips if that’s your thing.   I’ve seen this recipe before where they put in a little vanilla or cocoa powder, but my kids eat it as above and it’s plenty sweet. So I say why add for the sake of adding?

X Maggie

 

 

 

 

 

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Join our movement… And VOTE

Alex and I have been talking about how we should share more about our entrepreneurial journey in starting Bitsy’s Brainfood.  This is a real business that started with two moms sharing a simple belief that “healthy” should be “fun” for kids, and that we should give all children opportunities to learn, grow and discover whenever we can.  Even at snack time.

But beyond that, Bitsy’s Brainfood is the story of people trying to do something that we truly believe is important when it comes to kids.  Making healthier food for kids is as about as important as it gets.  All children need to be nourished: mind, body and spirit.  And the simple fact is that when it comes to healthy packaged food that really speaks to KIDS… Well, there’s a genuine need for innovation.  We’re doing something “NEW.” And we need your support to make this mission a reality.

We recently participated in the Natural Products Expo West.  This is an amazing organic and natural product trade show, where literally tens of thousands of companies show their products to the retail and consumer industry.  It’s often how products like ours make the journey from samples to shelves and available to consumers.

Every year at NATURAL PRODUCTS EXPO WEST, editors and trend researchers from New Hope Natural Media and Sterling-Rice Group scour the show floor to find the products and brands they predict will shape the future of the natural products industry. It’s said that the best of the best receive NEXTY nominations, which recognize the companies that embody not only the most innovative edge of the natural products industry, but also its deeply held social and environmental values.

AND YES… GUESS WHAT?  (INSERT HAPPY DANCE HERE)… WE WERE NOMINATED for a NEXTY!

Why does this matter so much?  Well it means that other people think making healthy organic food FUN for kids is an important new idea!  And if we can manage to win the NEXTY, we’ll be able to share our message of creating healthier foods that speak straight to kids more broadly.  At the end of the day, it’s about more than just Bitsy’s Brainfood — and one brand of products — it’s about saying that we need to do more of this.  More innovation.  More focus on kids health.  Big picture: it says that our children’s health should be an economic and social priority when it comes to the food that is available to families everywhere.

So please, take a moment.  Join our movement.  And VOTE.

Click www.nextforecast.com/nexty and click on Bitsy’s Brainfood in the far left column. And cast your vote for the health of kids.  As always, thank you for all of your support!

Be Smart. Eat Smart.

xox Maggie

 

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April Fools!

Need a good laugh? A sense of humor goes a long way…especially on April Fools’ Day! Let’s teach our children that laughter is the best medicine.  Here are some family-friendly April Fools’ jokes. They are fun, easy, safe and, of course, very silly!

Channel one of our favorite children’s books, Wacky Wednesday, to get April Fools’ Day off to a silly start!  Replace a picture frame on your child’s wall with a shoe! When your child wakes up, see if they notice the shoe on the wall.

“A shoe on a wall shouldn’t be there at all!”

Time to get dressed! Turn April Fools’ Day into “Backwards Day”.  Tell everyone in your family to wear their shirt or dress backwards and see how many people notice! Here’s a neat trick for the boys:  wear a collared shirt with a tie down your back to really set the silly factor!

Today is a day you can be silly from head to toe. Speaking of toes, mismatch all the socks in your child’s sock drawer. This can be a fun and creative lesson in matching as well.

Put newspaper or cotton balls into the toes of your child’s shoe to make it seem like they had a growth spurt overnight!  *The  best way for children to actually grow to be big and strong is to make sure their diet is full of healthy and nutritious foods.

We all try to watch what we eat, but today what you eat will be watching you!  Glue googly eyes on all the food and drink in your refrigerator, including the eggs!  This is sure to have the kids “cracking up”.

If you have extra googly eyes,  stick two on the outside bottom of your child’s sippy cup. When your child takes a sip, everyone else can enjoy a game of peek-a-boo!

At Bitsy’s Brainfood, we sure do love cereal! Have you tried our new organic mega delicious and ultra nutritious cereals? They are a cool new way to eat your fruits and vegetables…for breakfast! This is no joke – veggies for breakfast are deeeelish!

Here are some seriously silly cereal April Fools jokes you can play! (Try saying that 5 times fast!)

Pull the old cereal switcheroo! Little Suzy likes Carrot Raisin Crunch, mom loves Banana Squash Squares, and baby brother loves his Fruit & Veggie 1,2,3’s. Switch ‘em up before everyone comes to the breakfast table by taking out the bags and putting them in different boxes. See their surprised faces when they pour the cereal into the bowl!  Take this joke a step further by switching your bag of cereal for a bag of frozen peas or corn. We told you veggies for breakfast was a good idea!

Prep some bowls with cereal and water and freeze them overnight. When it is time for breakfast on April Fools’ Day, pour a bit more cereal and milk on top of the frozen ice cereal.  Kids will wonder why they cannot “dig in”!

And finally, Brainfoodies, surprise your kiddos with a pan of brown E’s. Take your favorite Bitsy’s snacks and pull out the letter E’s from the box. Place them in a small pan and voila… A mega delicious and ultra nutritious pan of brown E’s!


Happy April Fools’ Day, Brainfoodies!

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NEED SOME SMART BREAKFAST IDEAS FOR THE KIDDOS?

Brainfood Breakfast Ideas: Two of My FAVES and Some Useful Info Too!

Brainfoodie Breakfast Tip:  Did you know that school-aged children should start their day with low-glycemic-index breakfast foods?  Two great options?  We’ve got ‘em for you.  Our Carrot Raisin Crunch Cereal with flaxseed is great any day – or try slow cooking some oatmeal over night for a fast, easy, and hearty Brainfood breakfast in the morning!

Sounds good right – but…Glycemic Index? Say what? What the bananas is that??

Glycemic Index (GI) is a measurement that looks at the impact of foods on our blood sugar.  Instead of just measuring the total amount of carbohydrates in foods in their unconsumed state, GI measures the actual impact of foods on our blood sugar.  Studies have shown that low-GI diets have been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, chronic kidney disease, formation of gall stones, neural tube defects, formation of uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, and pancreas.  Yes, low GI foods are good for the whole family!

So while we know our cereals are delicious and nutritious enough to eat every day, it’s important to offer a variety of foods to your family.  Here’s a great recipe for slow cooked oatmeal that will satisfy tummies of all ages in your household!

Oatmeal:  Think Fast Cook Slow.

Busy Brainfoodies? YUP.  Amazingly something called a “Slow Cooker” can make life that much easier if you can get organized with your ingredients.  Why’s it awesome?  Just put the ingredients in, turn it on, and go about your day.  Also fun for kids who can help add the ingredients– an easy task with a YUM result!

Try this recipe for Slow Cooked Oatmeal.  Throw it in the night before…. Wake up and feed your kids a classic Brainfood meal!

Before they gobble up, you’ll need to gather up some simple ingredients:

8 cup(s) water

2 cup(s) steel-cut oats

1/3 cup(s) dried cranberries or organic raisins

1/3 cup(s) dried chopped apples

1/4 teaspoon(s) salt

1/4 teaspoon Maple Syrup or to taste add when serving

Directions

Combine water, oats, dried fruits and salt in a 6-quart slow cooker.  I made fruit suggestions here but you can try other things too like yummy dried apricots or even go tropical with coconut or hearty with pecans.  Cover and slow cook on low 7 to 8 hours.  Serve with a drizzle of Maple Syrup (an awesome Brainfood in it’s own right – more on this soon!)

Be Smart. Eat Smart.

Don’t they say breakfast is the smartest meal of the day?

xoxo,

Maggie 

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Bitsy’s “Hurry Up & Get Here” Guide to BRING SPRING!

Ready to feel the sun on your face, breathe the fresh air?

See ya’ later winter! It’s time to spring into action!

Let’s not just think Spring…let’s BRING it!

1. Plant a family garden and watch it grow! What a great opportunity to teach the kids the meaning of ORGANIC, as well as teamwork and responsibility.

BRING on the fresh fruit & veggies!

2. Don’t have the outdoor space for a garden, how about a windowsill? An herb garden is a great addition to any house. Find out what the 10 best herbs to grow indoors are here: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/10-best-herbs-indoors?page=0,0

BRING on the Basil!

3. Take a stroll through your farmer’s markets and support your community. Here’s a directory of where you can support locally grown: http://nfmd.org/

BRING on your appetite!  

4. Go on a family bike ride. Make sure to wear your helmets for safety.

BRING on the journey!

5. March winds are great for flying kites. Let it soar!

BRING on the blue skies!

6. April showers bring… PUDDLES! When was the last time you made a splash?!

BRING on the rain boots!

7. Let the 1st of April bring out your silly side. Play a fun (& safe) April Fools joke on someone you love.

BRING on the laughs!

8. Participate in a community clean-up day. Take care of your surroundings and teach your kids that they have the power to make a difference in the world.

BRING on Earth Day EVERYDAY!

9. Stop and smell the roses. Go on a flower walk.

BRING on the blooms!

10.  Spring is the time for romance!  Write a love letter to tell the special people in your life how much they mean to you! Get crafty and spell out sweet spring thoughts with your Bitsy’s Brainfood cookies. XOXO

BRING on the love!

11. Put your winter coat away.  Take a deep breath. And smile!

BRING ON SPRING!

We hope you’ll add your own ideas to our “Hurry Up & Get Here” Guide to Spring in the comments section…  And help us BRING SPRING on!

 

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National Nutrition Month For Kids

It’s “official.” March IS National Nutrition Month for Kids.  It has it’s own hashtags, websites, the works.

What is National Nutrition Month (NNM) all about? NNM is a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign is designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.  Awesome. Important.

So it’s pretty obvious why we’re celebrating this important month around here.  Making smart choices when it comes to nutrition and developing healthy habits from the get-go are what we’re all about at Bitsy’s Brainfood.  We believe in making eating smart FUN and achievable every day of the year!

Not just this month, but every time we go out to sell Bitsy’s Brainfood to a retail partner, so that they can sell our product to you, we think about the importance of better nutrition for our kids.  To be honest, it’s not easy to sell a new product into stores whose shelves are already full.  But when we set out to sell our story, our vision and our products – we are invigorated with ever increasing passion for why innovating in the kids food space and grocery store matters so very much.

This passion comes from a belief that we should never settle for nor accept mediocrity and less than the best when it comes to our children.  Unfortunately, when it comes to nutrition with big food manufacturers who most populate the shelves of your local grocery store, mediocrity has been the name of the game.   In an idealistic world, wherever we see mediocrity we should aspire to improve, innovate and change – BUT when it comes to our kids health, education, safety, and happiness, it is simply not acceptable and we must make changes.

Somehow along the way of industrializing foods, the world got away from growing and making the “best” food possible – to making the cheapest food possible and the most convenient food possible.  What would be the most instantly gratifying for the lowest price?  And when you look at this and think about it in terms of what we’re fueling not only our own bodies with but our children – yuck!

So this National Nutrition Month – we celebrate our commitment to you – we are ALWAYS going to try to make the best products that we can for your children, for our children, for ALL children.  There is zero tolerance for mediocrity at Bitsy’s Brainfood.  We hope that you enjoy our products knowing that we’ve done our best to bring you something that is healthy, better-for-you, delicious, and going to put a smile on your face.

Here’s to a world that always aspires for the best when it comes to our kids health!  Not just during National Nutrition Month, but every day, in every home, school, and grocery aisle.

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Parenting in 10 Easy Steps

 

Say HELLO to simple parenting with these 10 Easy Steps!

 

Step 1: Laugh.  If you aren’t already.  Because this is just a joke.

Step 2: If we could put Parenting into 10 Easy Steps, well I guess we’d be ruling the roost!

Step 3: Even if we could put Parenting into 10 Easy Steps, I don’t think we’d actually want to?  Isn’t the totally unique mayhem, challenge, growing, confusion, triumph, love, and unpredictable blend of all the rest what makes it so special?

Step 4:  I don’t know why we’re writing in steps here…  But just going with it.

Step 5:  Do you ever get tired of reading parenting entries about things that YOU KNOW are hard because you are living it, seem oh-so simple?

Step 6:  Be honest.  We find ten easy step articles kind of annoying.  We are only human.  We’re not perfect.  And the ten easy steps just don’t always work for us.

Step 7: In many ways this is why we started Bitsy’s Brainfood.

Step 8:  Shouldn’t SOME things in life be a little easier?

Step 9: Like feeding your kids a SMARTER, HEALTHIER, CONVENIENT snack in one easy step?

Step 10: Open your Box of Bitsy’s Brainfood for your kids and ENJOY.  Oops that was two steps.

Yum.  This simple step-free moment of snacking enjoyment with your kiddos was brought to you by the makers of Bitsy’s Brainfood.  

 

 

 

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