Cooking

Creating Healthy Eating Environments for Children

Updated: 8/2/18 The food and behavior choices of children are shaped by the eating environments that surround them, access to healthy and fresh food, and product marketing.  Creating a healthy eating environment for children helps prevent childhood obesity and can leave a lasting positive impact into adulthood.

Here are some ways to promote a healthy eating environment for your kids:applebanana

1. Keep a variety of fresh fruits within reach of your children - this will encourage them to grab a healthy snack.

2. Inform children about nutrition and why it's important to eat healthy foods.  Discuss the different food groups and what foods fit into each group.

3. Provide healthy beverages, such as water and fruit juice.  Limit foods and drinks that contain added sugar.

4. If available, create a garden at home and grow fresh fruits and vegetables.  Involving kids in gardening fresh vegetables will encourage them to eat them.

5. Cook meals at home where you have control over ingredients and portion sizes.  Prepare plates in the kitchen before serving a meal and sit down to eat a family meal together when possible.

7. Pack lunches with your kids - if they are invested in what they will be eating, they are more likely to enjoy the food and not throw healthy items away.

Each of our clinic’s 30 free Pro-Teen programs – which include all medical set-up, lab work, 10-weeks of weight loss services and all nutritional supplements, and are valued more than $500 each – will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis from Sept. 1 to 30, 2016, using an online entry system at www.mwlcgiveaway.com.  Applicants must complete a short entry form and describe in 100 words or less why they are interested in MWLC’s Pro-Teen weight-loss services.

Cooking with Kids

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Cooking is a great way to bring kids and parents together and encourage healthy eating!  Here's 3 reasons why cooking with your children is important and how to get started.

3 Reasons to Cook with Kids:

1. Cooking can be a great learning experience!  Having children participate in the cooking process can help them learn basic math skills (counting, weighing, measuring) and develop language.  Try creating a menu together and learning the nutrition involved in the menu. Discuss the food groups and what types of foods fit into each group.

2. Cooking promotes a feeling of responsibility and encourages healthy eating.  Teach kids about why foods are considered "healthy" or "unhealthy" and encourage cooking with fruits and vegetables.  Involving children in the food preparation process promotes more mindful food choices and eating patterns.  Also, the more invested in the meal, the more likely the child is to enjoy it - kids are much more likely to eat food they make themselves.

3. It teaches your kids a basic and essential life skill!  Cooking is an important skill and involving children at an early age helps set them up for future success.

How do you start cooking with your kids?  Start with an easier dish, or breakfast on the weekends where you have more time and let them try out the below tasks.

Cooking Tasks for Young Children:

1. Adding ingredients to a mixing bowl. 2. Stirring batter. 3. Assembling a pizza or sandwich. 4. Tearing apart food (such as lettuce). 5. Drying greens in a salad spinner. 6. Setting the table for the meal.

Cooking Tasks for Older Children:

1. Peeling fruits and vegetables (with a small peeler). 2. Mashing potatoes. 3. Stirring ingredients. 4. Rolling out dough and using cookies cutters. 5. Rinsing vegetables. 6. Squeezing lemons or limes with a plastic juicer. 7. Grating cheese. 8. Cracking eggs. 9. Measuring ingredients.

Creative Snacks for Kids

Try out these creative snack ideas for kids that are not only fun, but healthy too!   1. Cut fruit into fun shapes using cookie cutters - watermelon, pineapple, kiwi and cantaloupe work great!  Cookie cutters also work great with jello (use MWLC Cherry Jello Fiber to avoid sugary jello products from the store.)

2. Mold and position food into fun shapes and themes for children.  For example, create a "rainbow" using red, green, orange and yellow slices of bell pepper, with cauliflower florets to represent "clouds".  Use other fruits and vegetables to create animals, flowers, and other creative scenes for your kids.

3. Pour yogurt into ice cube molds (shaped molds can be found online) and freeze - kids will love the fun shapes in these easy frozen yogurt bites!

4. Kids love to dip!  Try dipping celery sticks into peanut butter, and Goldfish snacks, to create a 'Going Fishing' game.

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5.  Make kabobs!  Cut up fresh fruit - strawberries, melon, pineapple - and add the chunks to a skewer.  Dip skewers in yogurt.

6.  Create "fruit popsicles".  In a blender, mix seedless watermelon, strawberries and fresh lemon juice.  Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until firm.  Enjoy!

Food Scales and Weight Loss

Update: 4/29/18 Have you used a food scale lately to ensure the amounts you have been eyeballing are accurate?

While following a weight loss plan, it's important to stock your kitchen with healthy kitchen gear, in addition to healthy food.  One of the most important healthy kitchen tools you should have is a food scale.  Even if you are eating healthy foods, consuming the correct portion of those foods is important!

3 Reasons to Use a Food Scale While Losing Weight:

1. Using a food scale helps you learn about portion control.  Most people eat serving sizes that are much larger than their bodies actually need, and it's easy to overeat foods we consider "healthy".  Weighing out your portions is a great way to keep yourself from eating more than planned.

2. When following a meal plan and recipes that specify portion sizes for meat, a food scale is extremely handy!   Most scales are easy to use, and have a large, digital display.  Measuring cups and spoons can lead to errors in the portion sizes you use while cooking, while a food scale allows you to measure your ingredients accurately.

3. Using a food scale gives you a greater sense of correct serving sizes when you eat out.  As you use a food scale, you will begin to learn what common serving sizes look like, and you will be able to "eyeball" if a serving is too large or small when you are eating out at a restaurant (where you are not preparing the food yourself.)

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Benefits of Spiralizing

Updated:  8/15/18 What is “Spiralizing”?

Spiralizing is a preparation technique used in cooking, that involves converting fruits and vegetables into noodles and chips.

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Why Spiralize?

1. Spiralizing your fruits and vegetables contributes to weight loss and a healthier diet.

Spiralized vegetables can be a great substitute for pasta noodles and rice.  With spiralized vegetable noodles, you can eat more and weigh less!  The high fiber and water content in the spiralized vegetables helps you feel fuller longer.  Simply substituting pasta noodles with spiralized vegetables will give you a healthier meal.

2. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that can be spiralized.

Spiralizing fruits and vegetables can create beautiful and delicious dishes, and add a new variety to your meals. Vegetables on your meal plan that can be spiralized include Summer Squash, Broccoli, Zucchini, Cabbage, Onion, Cucumber, Radish, Apple, Eggplant, and Peppers. 

3. Spiralizing is quick and easy.

Spiralizing fruits and vegetables takes minutes and adds a creative twist to a meal.  Check out the MWLC Recipes page for healthy and delicious spiralizer recipes!

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Tips for Spiralizing:

  1.  Spiralizing will be most effective when the vegetable or fruit is placed straight.
  2.  Fruits and veggies should be at least 1.5-in. in diameter for best results.
  3.  Remove the core from Apples before spiralizing to avoid seeds.

 

How do you cook spiralized vegetables?

Spiralized veggies are quick to cook, but there are a few tips you’ll want to employ for best results.

First, make sure you pat wetter noodles dry before cooking them — zucchini (which is 90% water) and squash are great examples. You’ll want to remove most of this water before cooking, so you don’t simply steam the noodles. All veggie noodles can be boiled, but the cooking time depends on the vegetable. Softer veggies such as zucchini only take 1–2 minutes, whereas sweet potatoes might take 4–5 minutes. For some “noodles,” you may not even choose to cook your veggies — carrots, as an example. Raw vegetables have a lovely texture and exceptional nutrition.

 

Benefits of Using a Salad Spinner

SaladSpinner2 Benefits of Using a Salad Spinner

A Salad Spinner is a kitchen utensil that is made up of a plastic bowl, plastic colander, and a lid with a spinning mechanism.  Using a Salad Spinner can help you create cleaner, tastier salad dishes in an easy way, by removing the excess water from your greens after washing.  Salad Spinners are a tool that once you have it, you may never let it go!

Using a Salad Spinner after washing can provide a more crisp salad by removing the excess water from your salad greens.  Salad Spinners do a great job at keeping lettuce undamaged while cleaning the leaves and the removal of water from the leaves allows for dressing to stick better.  Greens should always be dry before refrigerated storage, as they will wilt more quickly when wet, so a Salad Spinner will help if you are meal prepping for your week.

Three Alternative Uses for a Salad Spinner:

1. Washing and Drying Herbs. Some herbs should be washed and dried similarly to lettuce, so try adding some fresh herbs to your salad spinner, wash, and spin!

2. Washing Berries. The plastic bowl in a Salad Spinner makes washing berries easy! Fill your spinner with water, let the berries soak, then lift the colander piece out to remove the berries from the water without damaging the fruit!

3. Cleaning Vegetables (like Broccoli!) Vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower can collect dirt.  To help clean these vegetables, cut them up into pieces, soak and spin dry.

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