Friday, May 28, 2010

Banana Ice Cream

So I found this recipe through a friend for banana ice cream and it turned out really well. I don't let my boys have a ton of sweets so this satisfies the "ice cream" craving with none of the sugar or added ingredients that are normally found in "Ice cream". That is because it is not really ice cream... it just turns into an ice cream consistency. It has been kid tested in my house and the toddler did a happy dance while he ate it and the big preschooler told me that he "loved banana ice cream".

Banana Ice Cream (2 servings) (this is what my recipe is based on... credit where credit is due and all)
2 Frozen Bananas (110 cals/pc)
Coconut milk (100 cals)
and various other fillers (peanut butter, avocado (calories... nom nom), honey

Total Cals: 160+ added fillers/per serving

I froze the bananas in their peel so they wouldn't turn brown. If you do this, you will need to let them defrost for about 10 minutes before they can be peeled.

Freeze your bananas, put chunks of frozen bananas into the blender, add coconut milk (or whatever thinner you'd like, or no thinner), and blend blend blend.
Like magic your frozen bananas will turn into a treat that is ice cream consistency. Once you get it a good consistency add whatever else you would like to it. And that is it! So easy and it really does meet the ice cream standards of my children (not guaranteeing this result, just reporting my results!). 

I do not like bananas and did not try this myself but I felt good giving my kids this treat. Let me know if you try it and how your children like it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

It is all about the fat

Really, my life is consumed by fat. Not because I like focusing on every morsel of food that goes into my kids mouth but because that is what life has been forcing me into lately. Near 16 mos old and still not 18 lbs. That is my Slobber Rocket. A peanut.  I keep taking him for weight checks and doctors keep telling me he is too small and to put him on sugar laced nutrition drinks and take him off of wonderful fattening breast milk (minus the sugar and side effects and health effects that go with too much). So in an effort to keep my otherwise healthy child off of these nutrition drinks (please, if your child had a known medical condition and can not otherwise gain weight, use these drinks per your doctors instructions... I just don't think they should be a first choice for a child whom doctors believe to be generally healthy). The babe does have some sensory problems with food so I also don't want to replace eaten calories with liquid calories if I don't have to since he desperately needs to be learning to eat a wide array of solids. So, I am diving into a world of healthy fats to add calories to his diet. And lucky you! I am going to be posting some of my favorite recipes here and there that I am using with him. These are also good if your child maybe has just had a very slim eating day and you just don't feel like they have gotten enough. Both Avocado and Coconut milk have a wide array of health benefits!

YoBaby Yogurt and Avocado
1 container of YoBaby yogurt/ or other whole milk yogurt (110 calories)
1/2 avocado (about 135 cals)

You can dice the avocado and put it in the yogurt. Your baby will probably gobble it up. My toddler, however, has some mega texture issues so I put them in the blender and make it completely smooth, thickening as he tolerates. close to 250 calories for a snack... not bad.

Oatmeal made with coconut milk
1 packet or serving of oatmeal (160 cals for what I generally use)
1/3 cup of coconut milk (184ish cals)
1/4 cup milk to thin it... coconut milk is VERY thick (31 cals)

I just add it together and nuke it. If it seems to thick I add milk. You can add other thinners such as water but my goal is to get calories into the little guy with as little sugar as possible. This dish packs a whopping 375 calories per bowl. Slobber Rocket seems to really enjoy it too. He can't eat a whole bowl but neither could I if I tried. If your kid has a nut allergy you may want to be aware that the FDA classifies this as a tree nut so please use caution!

If you have other recipes, feel free to share them. I will post up more ideas as I get them.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Causes I am passionate about #1: Food

I have decided that in an effort to write more often I am going to start a mini-series of blogs about causes I am passionate about. I have ideas for quite a few I can write about so hopefully this will be fun and informative for people. Mostly this will be my opinion and experience mixed with a bit of research I have done on the subject but I am not an expert on much so you just gotta take it or leave it ;)

So... why am I passionate about food? Well, I am passionate about food because we have it all wrong and it is killing the next generation of people in our country. Well, not just that... it has been killing me for a long time and it is taking a lot of work for me to control this food thing so I can teach my children how to be healthy people.

I grew up in a home with a single, working mom or a mom and a step dad who both worked full time for all of my childhood. My mom never really cooked. She certainly didn't cook anything fresh. There was no time, there was no money, and there was really no need. She bought what she could afford and fixed what we would eat so we had full tummies. She did her best. And I grew up preferring the tastes of processed food. Food from boxes and bags and microwavable cartons. And the same thing was going on at school. Quick fix food. Heat and serve, a la carte, and sodas and I liked it. Of course I liked it. Sugar tastes good. And when I got married, I cooked how I knew how to cook. I tried to incorporate fresh foods as we could afford them because I knew that how we were eating wasn't the best for us but we were poor college kids working part time jobs and going to school full time.

But what got me really excited about nutrition and trying to learn to eat better was finding out I was pregnant. I had a tiny little life depending on me for good, wholesome nutrition. And basically since then I have been trying to figure out how to feed my family more healthy meals. It has been a long journey and there are lots of road blocks (mostly money and the fact that food that is horrible for you is priced for the poor... cheaper and more food in the package) but I am making an honest effort for all of the people I love and for myself.

Why is this a cause? Well, there are many reasons I find food a "cause". I briefly mentioned one reason above: Poor people are often times forced into eating unhealthy food because of their financial situation (Cost of 200 Calories, Healthy too expensive, those are just 2 of tons of resources you can find online about this). Fresh food is expensive. Lean meats (if you eat meat) is expensive. Non meat food that is nutritious but not produce, is expensive. I find this very unfortunate (and some days even criminal). I don't want our nations poorest people subject to eating the worst food we have to offer just because they are poor. I find that heart wrenching.

I also find the foods we serve to children in schools to be positively horrible for the most part. It is generally nothing more than fast food served to children at school. If we are truly concerned about the health of our nation, we (as parents, doctors, teachers, and citizens) need to step up and teach children about nutrition and serve them food that is good for them. And in my opinion, the best place to start is school. Sure I can feed my own children mostly healthy food at home. I can limit sugar and serve veggies and fruits and lean meat. I can cook with EVOO and not fry anything or add salt to anything but really the problem is much bigger than just my kids. And while I desperately want my own children to be healthy and to learn good eating habits, I also want all of the children in our country to be educated about food and nutrition. There are SO many children in our country who will only learn about how to take care of their bodies if it is taught in school. Maybe to some that sounds a bit far fetched but I know it isn't. There are so many single parents out there who literally rush their kids off to school, work all day, pick their kids up at 6 from after school child care, get them home, pop food into the microwave, get their kids quickly bathed and to bed and go to bed themselves to get up and do it all again. I know because that describes the family I grew up in.

One of the biggest problems I have with school lunch is that the processed food is subsidized by the government which literally backs schools into a corner because without subsidies they can't afford to run the school lunch program. So essentially our government is forcing schools into serving processed "fast food" to children. Also, many schools get additional money for various programs through vending machines and a la carte items so getting those removed can be a bit of a pain in the neck since so many states are having huge budget problems. Funding for schools is a whole other issue for a different day though I guess.

There are some very cool movements going on right now to try to convince our government to change how we do school food. Jamie Oliver's campaign is called "Food Revolution" and you should check it out and sign his petition if you feel like what he wants to do is what is best for our kids (what he wants to do is serve our children fresh cooked, healthy foods for school breakfast and lunch every day and eliminate unhealthy choices from the menu). Jamie Oliver is doing a fabulous job bringing the obesity crisis to the forefront and is really succeeding in challenging this country to think about the consequences of the food we are feeding our children. He is getting the message out there that for the first time in MANY generations our children have a shorter life expectancy than we do (by about 10 years) and that the leading causes of death in the United States are diet related.

Here is Jamie Oliver's Ted talk that he did not long ago if you some spare time to watch it.

There is also a cool blog that I follow called "Fed up with lunch: the school lunch project" where an anonymous teacher is eating lunch from the school cafeteria every day in 2010. She is then posting pictures of the lunch and spurring on discussion about the whole subject. She also has a lot of very cool guest bloggers. Then you have The Renegade Lunch Lady who basically rocks my socks off.

I could go on and on about food. It is important that as parents (if you are one I suppose), we learn to eat well ourselves and we show our children what a healthy diet looks like. I admit, this is hard for me. How I grew up and money seem to get in the way of my intentions sometimes but when you look at the facts, the way we eat in the US (many of us anyway) is killing us. But this isn't only about parents, if you are a concerned citizen you can help change school lunches and we can start to make a dent in how food is looked at in our country. School lunch is only a small part of it but I strongly believe that if we feed our children well at school and teach them about nutrition at school, it will begin a change in how our country eats and what we eat. And it will give kids a better start and better habits than many of us got. Especially if you have children, this school lunch thing is a big deal. Your kids will be in school soon if they aren't already (excluding those who have home schooled children obviously) so if you feel passionately about these things like I do, find a way to help. Write your representatives, go to The Renegade Lunch Lady's site and check out her recommendations for spurring change, get your kids involved if you can. The more people who care and who stand up for better food for these kids, the better their lives will be.