Friday, December 31, 2010

Five Question Friday

Questions for Friday, December 31st: (Special thanks to Sharayha, Sandy, Pam,@Simply_BC, @gasfamily for their question suggestions! If you would like to be linked in a future Five Question Friday, just shout out your question suggestions to me in my communityor via twitter (@5crookedhalos)!

1. How long does your Christmas tree stay up?

2. Do you have plans for New Year's Eve?

3. Do you have any New Year's resolutions?

4. How did you spend New Year's Eve when you were younger?

5. What was the best way you've ever spent New Year's Eve?


1. I take my Christmas Tree down on Christmas day. Along with all the Christmas decorations. I get tired of having them up and by Christmas Day I am ready to get back to normal (whatever that is).

2. Don't really have any exciting plans just dinner with Tracy and Bo. Try to stay up til midnight but I don't really think that will happen.

3. I definately want to get more organized!! I am not an organized person. I get organized for a few days then its right back to unorganized. But the funny thing is I know right where everything is in my mess :)

4. We would go to my aunts house and play games all night and eat all day long and night. It was a lot of fun.

5.My best New Year's Eve was in 2005. I spent it with Tracy before we were married. We played Texas Hold 'Em with our friends. It was the best one because I was with Tracy.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

End of 2010

Wow where did 2010 go? This year has gone by fast for us. We have had a lot of changes in our family this year some good and some sad.
My dog Jasper died in January. He was my little companion for 7 years. I miss him and I still cry when I think about him. But the best way to get over a dog dying is to get a new one. We got another Yorkie puppy, Freddie in January. He’s not Jasper but he will do. Bo loves him.
Jasper loved to lay on this blue teddy bear
New baby Freddie Dogdog in Daddy's slipper
The biggest change for us was this summer when Tracy’s daughter Brooke decided to come and live with us and go to school in Duchesne. She is on the Drill Team they are 7 time State Champions!She does so well on the team. We have enjoyed watching her dance at her competitions. She was on the honor roll for the first quarter. We are very proud of her. She has adjusted to small town life well and she has some good friends.

Brooke is the second one back on the left with the dark hair.

Brooke is the one on the left. The cutest one of course!
Bo turned 2 this September and he keeps me busy running around after him. He is so smart he knows all his colors and shapes. He has started learning the ABC’s song and counting. He knows his name starts with a B. He loves animals and knows the names of a lot of different kinds of them. His favorites right now are wolves, elk, deer, and of course horses. I check out National Geographic movies for him on different animals he loves to watch them. His favorite is the Planet Earth movie where you get to see a lot of different animals all over the world.  He loves to read stories and he can tell them back to me when we are done. He is the light in our life and we are so thankful for him in our family! Being a Mom is an amazing job. I love it. I am so thankful that Heavenly Father trusted me with being Bo’s mom. I love to teach him things and see him learn.
Bo's 2 year old pics

In May we took a trip to Cancun with Jacquie and Paden. Grandma Margaret and Papa Dwayne watched the kids. We had a great time. Mexico was so pretty and fun. We loved the ocean.
I drew out for the Anthro Elk hunt this year. I was so excited to get a tag. I had only put in for this hunt since I was 14! I shot a nice 6 X 8 point bull. I had a lot of fun on this hunt and got to spend a lot of time with my family.

Can't wait to see what 2011 brings us. As long as we have our family and friends and our health we will be great!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Playing with Bo

Bo has started to love to hide from me. Whenever I say ok Bo let's get your shoes on or let's wipe your nose he takes off running for his room. To see him run is the cutest thing!! He has a little bounce in his step and I can tell he is running for all he is worth! He has 2 hiding places 1 in on his bed and he covers up with his John Deere Tractor blanket and the other one is in my bathroom behind the laundry basket.

We played our version of hide and seek last night and it was so fun.He would hide then I would find him then I would hide and he would find me. It is moments like these that I am so grateful to be a mom. I don't know what I ever did for entertainment without him!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yummy Appetizers

I love to go to family get togethers, mostly for the social part of visiting with family but my second favorite part of them is bringing food to eat! I love to cook and try new recipes and have people to eat them.  I have tried so many new appetizers this Holiday season that I wanted to share them with you.

Tomato Spinach Spread

1 8 oz package cream cheese softened
1/3 cup of milk
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 small onion

Pita Triangles
1 Tablespoon butter melted
1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 Whole pita breads
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning

In a small mixing bowl beat the cream cheese, milk, salt and cayenne until smooth. Stir in the tomatoes, spinach and onion. Pour into an ungreased microwave safe 9 in pie plate. Microwave on high for 5 minutes or until heated through.
Meanwhile, combine butter and oil, brush over both sides of pitas. Cut each pita into 8 wedges and place on ungreased baking sheet. Combine cumin and lemon-pepper and sprinkle over both sides. Broil for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly browned.

Pizza By The Scoop

2  8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1  12 oz bottle chili sauce
1  6 oz package Canadian bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Corn chips
Spread cream cheese on an ungreased 12 in pizza pan. Spread chili sauce on and sprinkle Canadian bacon, onions, green peppers, and cheese. Serve with chips

Ranch Tortilla Roll-Ups

2  8 oz packages cream cheese
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
2 to 3 jalapenos peppers, finely chopped
1  2 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
8 flour tortillas (8 inch)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spread mixture on tortillas roll up tight and wrap each tortilla roll in saran wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour. Unwrap and cut each tortilla into eight pieces.

Creamy Black Bean Salsa

1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups frozen corn, thawed
1 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
¾ cup finely chopped green pepper
½ cup finely chopped red onion
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Tortilla chips
Combine the beans, corn, peppers, onion and parsley. Mix the sour cream, mayo, vinegar and seasonings and pour over corn mixture and toss gently to coat. Refrigerate leftovers.

All the above recipes came from a Taste of Home Appetizer cookbook. I love to buy new cookbooks and the magazine ones by the check stand at the grocery store always get me!
Note: We don’t eat onions at my house so I didn’t put them in any of the recipes and they tasted just  fine.

This next recipe isn’t a new one my mom has made it for years and it is soooo good. When I was pregnant with Bo I craved this and I made a ton of it.

Chex Snack Mix
1 ½ Cup butter
1 cup light karo syrup
1 cup sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla
10 oz mixed nuts or cashews
16 oz box of Rice Chex cereal
Mix the karo, butter, sugar and vanilla in a sauce pan and boil 2 minutes. Pour over Chex cereal and nuts.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lets Stop Poisoning Our Children part 2

How toxic chemicals get into your body.
There are three ways chemicals can get into your body, ingestion, inhalation, and absorption.
Ingestion is eating or drinking a substance is the route of most immediate poisonings that lead to accidental death. Little kids are the most vulnerable to household poisonings through ingestion. They are very curious and they learn by putting things into their mouths. With a house full of toxic chemicals it is very scary to think what could happen.
Kids can’t tell the difference between lemon furniture polish and lemonade. They both smell the same and look the same. Ammonia looks like apple juice. Even things that we think are safe like perfume or mouth wash can be poisonous to a child if they drink them.
A little boy named Peter Schwab would crawl up to the dishwasher while his mom was loading it and play. He put his finger into the Electrasol dishwasher soap and then in his mouth. In minutes his face was red and blistered and the inside of his mouth and tongue were burned white. Luckily he was treated and a hospital and recovered. A little girl across the hall from Peter in the hospital ate dishwasher soap too and had to have seven surgeries to reopen her scarred esophagus.
A little three year old boy, Jason Whitley, died three weeks after swallowing only three ounces of hair conditioner which contains ammonia.
Adrian Gonzales at 7 months old spilled bleach on the floor and crawled through it. The bleach gave him third-degree burns on fifty percent of his body and the fumes burned his lungs.  He died after four days of the accident.
Every 13 seconds a family calls a poison control center regarding exposure to a poison. In 2002, over two millions poisonings were reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers and over half were for children under 6 years old who had been poisoned at home accidentally.  For kids 6 and under the most common poison is a household cleaner or a personal care product.
More kids under the age of four die each year from accidental poisonings at home than are accidentally killed with guns each year.
Inhalation is breathing a substance. Inhalation is more common and can be more harmful than injestion. It’s the kind of gradual poisonings that happens over time as kids breathe the vapors. Toxic fumes can be released eventhough the lid is on, just think of when you walk down the cleaning aisle at the store you can smell the cleaners. This is called outgassing.
When we inhale the fumes they go directly to our blood stream and travel quickly to our organs like the brain, heart liver, and kidneys. The results are headaches, muscle aches and lightheadedness. Many products give off vapors that can irritate your nose, throat and lungs and can cause a sinus infection.
When we clean we inhale the chemical vapors and our kids do as well. Toxic residue from laundry products on sheets, pillow cases, and cloths can be inhaled by the kids while they sleep or while playing while wearing their cloths.
Absorption is admitting a substance through the skin. This is often an n unsuspected route of exposure. Any chemical that touches our skin can be absorbed and spread throughout the body.
Skin absorption of toxic chemicals is obvious when you put on lotion. But it can also happen when you might not think about it like when you are cleaning. Like the mop water or the shower cleaner. Skin absorption can even happen when you touch a surface that has been cleaned with a chemical days or even weeks earlier. Like the table at a restraunt or shopping carts. This is a problem for kids as they crawl around or touch recently cleaned surfaces.
Not all household poisonings happen immediately. Some occur only after repeated exposure.
Acute Toxicity refers to a one-time exposure that leads to life- threatening effects or death. Usually these poisonings are the result of accidental ingestion of common household products that kids get into. This is why we have poison control centers.
Chronic Toxicity is poisonings as the result of many repeated exposures to small amounts of a chemical over a long period of time. The effects of this kind of exposures are cancer, birth defects and genetic changes. They may not show up for years. Just like smoking one cigarette won’t give you cancer one ordinary exposure to chemicals in cleaners probably won’t harm you either.  Smoking every day for years is likely to result in cancer. Just like cleaning our homes everyday or every week with toxic chemicals is likely to harm your health and the health of your kids. Because we don’t see immediate effects we think nothing is happening. But slowly our bodies and our kids’ bodies are being poisoned. Chemicals toxicity takes into account the combined effects of all the chemicals we are exposed to. Like the chemicals in your mouthwash, hair conditioner, cologne or perfume, laundry soap, window cleaner and many more adds up to chemical soup in your body.
Many studies have been done on the combinations of different chemicals in our bodies and the effects on them.
Most of us think that toxic substances are just “out there” and don’t affect us. But once a toxic substance enters our bodies they stay in our bodies, especially in our fat tissue.
One study found that 100% of the people tested had toxic styrene in their fat tissue from drinking our of Styrofoam cups. Another study found that 100% of people tested had a chemical 1, 4-Dichlorobenzene which is used in household deodorizers.
Another study called Body Burden done in 2000 found that an average of 91 industrial compounds in the bodies of the volunteers. And of the 167 chemicals found, 76 cause cancer in humans and animals, 94 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 79 cause birth defects or abnormal development. These people like you and I were just exposed to the chemicals in their everyday lives. This test was done by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

All the information came from the pamphlet "Let's Stop Poisoning Our Children", by Debra Lynn Dadd.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Menu Dec. 15th to Dec. 31st

,I am going to start to post my menu on here every 2 weeks. I got the idea to do a menu from my friend Jeannie from Blessed to be home. Jeannie does her menu every week. I started to  try this for the week, but I like to make my menu for 2 weeks starting on our pay days that way I can do my grocery shopping for the whole time and not run back to the store. I love to have a menu it takes away the what to make for dinner dilemma for me. I don't always stick to it day by day I do change the days around. If something sounds better then I make it instead of waiting for the day I have it scheduled for.
I am a little late posting this one today, I had a very busy day going Christmas shopping! I am still not done but plan to finish on the weekend.
Menu December 15th  to December 31st
Wednesday Dec .15th                                    
Flat Bread Tacos served with salad.
Thursday Dec. 16th                                    
Easy Pleasing Meat Loaf served with fried potatoes
Friday Dec. 17th                                             
Sticky Chicken served with green beans
2-3 Chicken breasts cut up
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
1 T. Garlic Powder
2 T. Onion Flakes
2 t. Parsley
1/4 C. Water
Place chicken in a casserole dish( I use a cake pan 9X13) Mix ingredients and pour over chicken. Cover and bake for 1 hour on 350. Thicken juice with corn starch and use as gravy on rice.
Saturday Dec. 18th                                         
Eat out. Brooke's Drill Team Competition
Sunday Dec. 19th                                       
Southwest Crock Pot Chicken served with a vegetable
I found this amazing recipe from a blog that I follow and love Better Than Burgers. I posted the link on an earlier post too.
Monday Dec. 20th                                            
Quesadilla Burger served with salad
Tuesday Dec. 21st                                            
Sweet and Sour Chicken served with green beans
Wednesday Dec. 22nd                                 
    Southwestern Goulash  from For The Love of Cooking blog. Another great cooking blog I follow and love.
Thursday Dec. 23rd                                       
    EZ Taco Stew
Friday Dec. 24th                                                
 Cube Steak served with a vegetable and Apple Betti for desert
2 to 6 Cube Steaks salt and pepper them
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
3 Squirts of Ketchup
2 Squirts of Mustard
2-3 Bay Leaves
Mix together and pour over steaks. Cover and bake fro 1 hour and 15 minutes on 350.
Apple Betti
4 cups apples sliced
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1 Cup Sugar
1 t. Cinnamon
3/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Butter
Butter a 9X9 Pan ( I used an 8X11 I think). Arrange the apples in bottom of the dish and pour the orange juice over the apples. Mix dry ingredients together and cut in softened butter with a fork. Sprinkle crumbly mixture over the apples and juice. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Serve with ice cream or carmel sauce.
This is o easy to make and it is way yummy!! I don't usually make desert because my husband doesn't like sweets. But this is so good I really want to make it!
Saturday Dec. 25th                                           
 CHRISTMAS DAY! Dinner at my moms
Sunday Dec. 26th                                              
 Broccoli and Cheese Soup
Monday Dec. 27th                                            
Ham and Potato Scallop
Tuesday Dec.28th                                             
 Hamburger and Potato Casserole
Wednesday Dec.29th                                     
Easy BBQ Pork Chops served with corn
Pork Loin Chops( boneless or bone in)
1 Can Stewed Tomatoes
1/2 to 1 bottle BBQ sauce ( any kind will do)
Trim the fat from the chops, brown them in a pan with butter.
Place them in a crock pot smother with the BBQ sauce and add the tomatoes. Cook on low for 6 to 10 hours.
Thursday Dec. 30th                                          
Julie’s Crock Pot Chicken Tacos another one from Better Than Burgers.
Friday Dec. 31st                                                 
Spaghetti served with corn and garlic bread

If you would like any of the recipes let me know!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blog Hop

Rules for Five Question Friday: Copy and paste the following questions to your blog post. Answer them.

Questions for Friday, December 10, 2010

1. Do you open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
2. What is your favorite Christmas cookie (or candy)?
3. What's the worst Christmas gift you've ever received?
4. Christmas song that you love?
5. How many trees do you put up?
1. We usually open our new pj's on Christmas Eve.

2. I like the carmels and fudge that friends bring around on the goody plate, but my favorite Christmas snack isn't a cookie or candy it's a cheese ball and crackers. My grandma Helen's is my favorite.

3. I honestly don't think I have ever gotten a present that I just hated. Might be weird but I can't think of one.

4. I love Mary did you know, sung by Kenny Rogers and I think Wynonna Judd. I love Let it be Christmas by Alan Jackson. Silent Night, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day, Santa Baby, and new this year thanks to Bo is Jingle Bells and Rudolf.

5. We only put up one tree but in the future that might change if Bo decides he needs one of his own.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Let's Stop Poisoning Our Children!

I admit I was never really concerned about green products until I got pregnant with Bo. I didn’t want to do anything that would harm his little body. When Bo was 1 I was lucky enough to find an online store to shop from for everyday products ranging from cleaning products to personal care products that are all chemical free. I was shocked to find out that so many everyday products that we use have toxic harmful chemicals in them not just cleaning products but also toothpaste and baby wash and many more. One big shocker for me was the ingredient Quaternium 15 or Q 15 for short. Q 15 is a formaldehyde releaser used for a preservative. It is known to cause cancer, skin problems and asthma. It is in name brand baby wash so every time I bathed Bo I was basically putting formaldehyde on his body.
I have recently read a Pamphlet entitled, “Let’s Stop Poisoning Our Children!” by Debra Lynn Dadd.

It was so informational and eye opening. The following information is from Chapter 1.
Since WWII, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of man-made chemicals we use in our homes. Our homes are where we are exposed to most of the chemicals. The typical home now contains over 63 hazardous products that together contain hundreds of different chemicals. At the same time, there has been as equally dramatic rise in the incidences of certain chronic health problems, like asthma, learning problems and cancer, especially in children. We spend 80 to 90% of our time indoors and most of that in our homes. Why are our homes so toxic? Because since the 1970’s there has been an increase of toxic chemicals in household products and we have been making our homes more energy efficient. The lack of openings for air to escape also keeps chemical air pollutants in, resulting in a greater concentration of pollutants indoors than out. EPA studies found that even in urban areas with high levels of industrial pollution the concentration of toxic chemicals was higher indoors that outdoors- in some cases ten, twenty, thirty and even up to seventy times higher indoors!
There has been a rise in chronic illnesses in adults and children. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Birth Defects, Asthma, and Attention Deficit Disorder just to name a few. Of course other factors are involved, more and more scientists are linking these ailments to long-term chemical exposure.
Fortunately there are companies who refuse to use these chemicals in their products and who are concerned for our welfare. I am so thankful I found a company like this and I can shop and have safer products in my home.

I will post about the other chapters in the following weeks.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My finished Thanksgiving project

Here is my finished Thanksgiving project. My goal was to have it done by Thanksgiving so I could display it on my piano. I had everything painted but the eyes on the pilgrims and Indians before Thanksgiving. I tried and tried to get them to look good but I ended up having to have my mom paint them for me.

 I loved painting the table and the food items. The bread and the turkey were my favorites!

Bo thinks the dog and cat are his toys. He plays with them all the time.
This was a very fun project to do. I think I am done painting for a while though. Now I need some other craft to keep me busy. Any ideas?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Traditions

I love family traditions. We have several in my family that we always do and I love them.
The one that we have done the longest is on Christmas Eve we eat the food that Jesus ate (my mom’s version anyway). We would eat fish sticks, rolls and grape juice. A lot of the time we would eat picnic style on the living room floor. Mom and Dad would read us Christmas stories after we ate.  Now that we are all married and have families of our own we still get together at my mom and dad’s and eat the food Jesus ate. It has gotten more fancy or sophisticated now and we have shrimp or crab and fish sticks.
Another tradition we have is going and cutting down our own Christmas tree on Thanksgiving Day or a day or two after. We get it put up and decorated and get out all the Christmas decorations.
When my brothers and sisters and I were a little older we started going Christmas Caroling to people in our town. We would decide as a family who to go to and make them a goody plate. We would usually choose older people or people who didn’t have a lot of family in town. I loved going caroling and seeing the looks of happiness on their faces when we would sing the carols. I always went home with a warm heart and full of the Christmas spirit.
 Sending Christmas cards, this is my favorite tradition and I learned it from my mom!  I LOVE to send Christmas cards out every year. I want my card to be the first one people receive each year! I love to go shopping for the cards there are always so many I love, but I have to narrow it down to 2 styles. One year my sister’s and I got together and made our own which was a lot of work but so much fun. I recently started to send a news letter with my Christmas cards too which is fun to think about our year and all the blessings we have received.
One of my favorite Christmas decorations is the Nativity scene. I loved to look at the ceramic one my mom had. My brothers and I would want to play with it so bad and we did a little bit but some of the pieces got broke. I bought the Fisher-Price Nativity scene for Bo and he loves it. I set it up on the floor and we play with it. I get to teach him the story of baby Jesus and he can touch the pieces and I don’t have to worry about it getting broke. He knows the story and he will tell me about it. It is the cutest thing to hear a 2 year old tell you the story of Jesus' birth! I put it up every year so it is a fun toy to look forward to at Christmas time.
The whole Nativity Scene set

Bo showing me the Baby Jesus

I have heard of some other fun traditions from people on different online forums I am a member of. Some of them I will have to wait until Bo is bigger to do them.

What are some of your family Christmas traditions?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Love is spelled TIME

I recently read a title of a book called To a child, love is spelled T-I-M-E. I really started thinking about that statement about how true that really is. I thought back to my own childhood and my most fond memories were when my mom and dad would play with me, or when we would work side by side, or when we went on vacation and all of us were in the car for hours just talking and getting to know one another.
I thought of Bo and how I spend time with him. I am blessed to be able to be at home with him everyday. I see him wake up and I love to rock him to sleep at night. I treasure these times with him while he is little I know I will never get them back. My mom says you can’t have quality time without quantity time. Here are some of my ways I spend time with my 2 year old son.
1-      Read together. This is our favorite activity to do.
2-      Sit on the floor and play cars, truck, animals, or whatever they are playing
3-      Sing songs either ones you know or make up your own and sing them in a funny voice
4-      Go for walks and point out the trees, rocks, flowers, clouds
5-      When you go for car rides talk to them about what you see outside like animals, the different cars you see, or the scenery
6-      I love to hold him while he is napping and just soak up his love. Sometimes I just sit and hold him for his whole nap, I don’t get a lot done on these days but it is definitely worth it!
Bo plays really well by himself but he will come and get me when I am on the computer, doing dishes or folding clothes. I know that when he does this that he needs me and my time. I stop what I am doing and go and play with him doing whatever he wants to do. Sometimes I need him to remind me that what I am doing at the moment isn’t the most important thing but spending time with him is. Of course there are times when what I am doing can’t wait but most things can.
I hope this gave you some ideas on ways to spend time with your child

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What not to feed your kids

I loved this article.{borrowed from fellow internet ceo mom

I am going to try to change our eating habits. Starting with Tracy's lunches. If you have any suggestions or comments let me know.

9 Foods Not to Give Your Kids

By Joe Wilkes
If you've followed the news on childhood obesity lately, you know the state of affairs is pretty grim. Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the past two decades, and most signs point to the next generation being the first whose life expectancy will be shorter than their parents'. Much of the blame for this trend has deservedly been laid at the feet of the producers and marketers of unhealthy food aimed at our youngest consumers, whose parents face an uphill battle: trying to pit fresh, healthy foods devoid of mascots or sidekicks against superheroes and cartoon animals in a struggle to tempt their children's palates and stomachs.
Boy Eating a Carrot
Since most kids have hummingbird metabolisms that adults can only envy, it's often easy to give them a free pass and let them eat whatever they want. But eventually those metabolisms slow down and the pounds settle in. Also, as physical activity decreases and processed food intake increases annually, kids aren't burning calories the way their parents might have when they were their age. And even if the kids aren't getting fat, they are establishing eating habits they'll take into adulthood. As parents, you can help foster a love for healthy eating and exercise that will last your kids a lifetime—hopefully a long one!
Eating can so often be a classic power struggle where kids try to finally locate their mom and dad's last nerve. (I can remember family dinners with my brother and parents that could teach Hezbollah a thing or two about standoffs.) There are a number of strategies you can use to mitigate this type of deadlock. One is to let your kids help with the selection and preparation of the food. If they picked out the veggies at the farmers' market and helped cook them, they might be less inclined to feed them to the family pet. Another is to frame eating vegetables and healthy food as being its own reward. Otherwise, by offering dessert as a reward for finishing vegetables, you create a system where unhealthy food is a treat and healthy food sucks. With these thoughts in mind, let's take a look at some of the most unhealthy foods being marketed to your kids today, and some healthier alternatives you can offer to replace each of them.
Note: The following recommendations are for school-aged children. Infants and toddlers have different specific nutritional needs, not addressed in this article.
  1. Chicken nuggets/tenders. These popular kids' menu items are little nuggets of compressed fat, sodium, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and in some form chicken. Depending on the restaurant, chicken might not even be the first ingredient. Oftentimes, the nuggets or tenders are made of ground pieces of chicken meat and skin, pressed into a shape, Grilled Chicken and a Saladflavored with HFCS and salt, and batter-fried in hydrogenated oil (the bad, trans-fatty stuff). Then, as if that weren't unhealthy enough, you dunk it in a HFCS- or mayonnaise-based sauce. With all the fat, salt, and sugar, it's easy to understand why they're tasty, but the nutritive value weighed against the huge amount of calories and fat consumed is incredibly lacking. Even healthier-sounding menu items can be deceiving, like McDonald's® Premium Breast Strips (5 pieces), which pack 665 calories and 40 grams of fat—and that's before you factor in the dipping sauce. (By comparison, a Big Mac® with sauce has 540 calories and 29 grams of fat.) Instead: If you're cooking at home, grill a chicken breast and cut it into dipping-size pieces either with a knife or, for extra fun, cookie cutters. Make a healthy dipping sauce from HFCS-free ketchup, marinara sauce, mustard, or yogurt. Let your kids help make the shapes or mix up the sauce. Try and go without breading, but if you must, try dipping the chicken breast in a beaten egg, and then rolling it in cornflake crumbs before you bake it. It'll be crunchy and delicious, but not as fatty.
  2. Sugary cereal. I can remember as a child, after going to friends' houses for overnights and being treated to breakfast cereals with marshmallows that turned the milk fluorescent pink or blue, feeling horribly deprived when faced with the less colorful and sugary options served up in my home kitchen. But now I can appreciate my mom and her unpopular brans and granolas. True, they didn't have any cartoon characters on the box or any toy surprises, but they also didn't have the cups of sugar, grams of fat, and hundreds of empty calories that these Saturday-morning staples are loaded with. Instead: Read the labels and try to find cereal that's low in sugar and high in fiber and whole grains. Remember, "wheat" is not the same as "whole wheat." Also, avoid cereals (including some granolas) that have hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, or chemical preservatives. Add raisins, sliced bananas, berries, or other seasonal fruit to the cereal for extra flavor and nutrition. Again, letting your child help design a healthy bowl of cereal from choices you provide will get you a little more buy-in at the breakfast table.
  3. Lunch meat and hot dogs. Kids love hot dogs, bologna, and other processed meats, but these are all full of potentially carcinogenic nitrates and nitrites, sodium, saturated fat, and artificial colors and fillers. A study in Los Angeles found that kids who ate 12 hot dogs a month had nine times the risk of developing leukemia.1 And more health risks are being discovered all the time. Leaf through any research about Hot Dogskids' nutrition, and you're bound to read about the bane of the cafeteria—Oscar Mayer's Lunchables®. These and similar prepackaged lunches are loaded with processed meats and crackers made with hydrogenated oils. These innocent-looking meals can boast fat counts of up to 38 grams. That's as much fat as a Burger King® Whopper® and more than half the recommended daily allowance of fat for an adult. Instead: Get unprocessed meats, like lean turkey breast, chicken, tuna, or roast beef. Use whole wheat bread for sandwiches; or if your kid's dying for Lunchables, fill a small plastic container with whole-grain, low-fat crackers, lean, unprocessed meat, and low-fat cheese. This can be another great time to get out the cookie cutters to make healthy sandwiches more fun. For hot dogs, read labels carefully. Turkey dogs are usually a good bet, but some are pumped up with a fair amount of chemicals and extra fat to disguise their fowl origins. Look for low levels of fat, low sodium, and a list of ingredients you recognize. There are some tasty veggie dogs on the market, although a good deal of trial and error may be involved for the choosy child.
  4. Juice and juice-flavored drinks. Juice—what could be wrong with juice? While 100 percent juice is a good source of vitamin C, it doesn't have the fiber of whole fruit, and provides calories mostly from sugar and carbohydrates. Too much juice can lead to obesity and tooth decay, among other problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests 4 to 6 ounces of juice per day for kids under six, and 8 to 12 ounces for older kids. Juice drinks that aren't 100 percent juice are usually laced with artificial colors and that old standby, high fructose corn syrup, and should be avoided. Your best bet is to make your own juice from fresh, seasonal fruit. You won't have to worry about all the additives, and it's another way you can involve your kids in the cooking process. Let them design their own juice "cocktail." (And if you were even considering soda, see "Top 10 Reasons to Give Up Soda" in the Related Articles section below.) Instead: Water is still the best thirst quencher. Explain the importance of good hydration to your kids, and try to set a good example yourself by carrying around a healthy reusable hard plastic or stainless steel water bottle. Get your kids used to carrying a small bottle of water in their backpack or attached to their bike. If they're very water averse, try water with a splash of fruit juice in it. But just a splash. The idea is to get your kids used to not having things be overly sweet, overly salty, or overly fatty. Another great beverage is milk. Growing kids need plenty of milk (or fortified nondairy milks, like soy or almond)—which is filled with nutrients, calcium, and (in the case of dairy and soy) protein—but they don't need too much fat, so choosing low-fat or nonfat options will help ensure that they get their milk without actually beginning to resemble a cow.
  5. VegetablesFrench fries. High in calories, high in fat, and high in sodium—and unsurprisingly the most popular "vegetable" among kids. Fries offer virtually none of the nutrients found in broccoli, carrots, spinach, or other veggies not cooked up in a deep fryer, and the fat they're fried in is often trans fat, the unhealthiest kind for the heart. To top it all off, studies are beginning to show cancer-causing properties from acrylamide, a toxic substance that is created when starchy foods like potatoes are heated to extreme temperatures. In some tests, the amount of acrylamide in French fries was 300 to 600 times higher than the amount the EPA allows in a glass of water.2 Instead: Vegetables like baby carrots, celery sticks, and other crudités are great options, but if potatoes must be had, there are some options that don't involve melting a brick of fat. A scooped-out potato skin with low-fat chili and a little cheese can provide lots of fiber and vitamins, with even higher amounts if the chili has beans. You can also try making baked fries, using slices of potato with a light brushing of olive oil. Or the classic baked potato could be a hit, with plain yogurt or cottage cheese instead of sour cream and butter.
  6. Potato chips, Cheetos®, Doritos®, etc. These are full of fat, oftentimes saturated, and way more sodium than any child or adult should eat. Some chips also have the acrylamide problem discussed in #5, French fries, above. Also, watch out for innocent-seeming baked and low-fat chips that contain olestra or other fake fats and chemicals that could present health issues for kids. Instead: Kids gotta snack, and in fact, since their stomachs are smaller, they aren't usually able to go as long between meals as adults. Cut-up vegetables are the best thing if your kids want to get their crunch on, but air-popped popcorn and some baked chips are okay, too. You can control how much salt goes on the popcorn, or involve your child in experimenting with other toppings like red pepper, Parmesan cheese, or dried herbs. Try making your own trail mix with your kids. They might be more excited to eat their own personal blend, and that way you can avoid certain store-bought trail mixes, which sometimes contain ingredients like chocolate chips and marshmallows that aren't exactly on the healthy snack trail.
  7. Fruit leather. Many of these gelatinous snacks like roll-ups or fruit bites contain just a trace amount of fruit, but lots of sugar or HFCS and bright artificial colors. Don't be misled by all the products that include the word "fruit" on their box. Real fruit is in the produce section, not the candy aisle. Instead: If your child doesn't show interest in fruit in its natural state, there are some ways you can make it more interesting without losing its nutritional value. For a healthy frozen treat, try filling ice-cube or frozen-pop trays with fruit juice or freezing grapes. Or buy unflavored gelatin and mix it with fruit juice and/or pieces of fruit to make gelatin treats without the added sugar and color (let it solidify in big flat casserole dishes or roasting pans—another good time for the cookie cutters!) Try serving some raisins, dried apricots, apples, peaches, or other dried fruits that might give you that chewy, leathery texture without the sugar.
  8. Doughnuts. These little deep-fried gobs of joy are favorites for kids and adults alike, but they are full of fat and trans-fatty acids, and of course, sugar. Toaster pastries, muffins, and cinnamon buns aren't much better. The worst thing about doughnuts and these other pastries, aside from their nutritional content, is that they're often presented to children as acceptable breakfast choices. These delicious deadlies need to be categorized properly—as desserts, to be eaten very sparingly. And you can't have dessert for breakfast. Instead: Honestly, a slice of whole wheat toast spread with sugar-free fruit spread or peanut butter isn't going to get as many fans as a chocolate-filled Krispy Kreme® doughnut, but at some point, you have to stand firm. Be the cop who doesn't like doughnuts. Doughnuts—not for breakfast. Period.
  9. Pizza. In moderation, pizza can be a fairly decent choice. If you order the right toppings, you can get in most of your food groups. The problem comes with processed meats like pepperoni and sausage, which add fat and nitrates/nitrites (see #3, Lunch meat and hot dogs, above); and the overabundance of cheese, which will also provide more calories and fat than a child needs. Instead: Try making your own pizza with your kids. Use premade whole wheat crusts, or whole wheat tortillas, English muffins, or bread as a base. Then brush on HFCS-free sauce, and set up a workstation with healthy ingredients like diced chicken breast, sliced turkey dogs, and vegetables that each child can use to build his or her own pizza. Then sprinkle on a little cheese, bake, and serve. If your child gets used to eating pizza like this, delivery pizzas may seem unbearably greasy after awhile.
Someday your children will come to realize that caped men in tights and sponges who live under the sea might not have their best interests at heart when it comes to food. Until then, however, why not involve them in the process of selecting and preparing healthier alternatives? Some of these cleverly disguised wholesome foods might become their favorites. Who knows, they may even tempt some of the overgrown children among us!
  • 1Peters J, et al. "Processed meats and risk of childhood leukemia (California, USA)" Cancer Causes & Control 5: 195-202, 1994
  • 2Tareke E, Rydberg P, Karlsson P, et al. "Analysis of acrylamide, a carcinogen formed in heated foodstuffs" J. of Agri and Food Chem. 2002;50:4988-5006