Monday, April 02, 2007

Raising Healthy Children Book Giveway Results

I have five copies of the “Good Kids Bad Habits”, by Jennifer Trachtenberg, book to offer up to those of you who entered our book giveaway contest.

If your tips were chosen for the entry and I have not received your mailing address, I will be emailing you today to get that from you. I am planning to ship these out this week to each of you.

Thank you to everyone who entered and much thanks to HarperCollins for shipping us enough copies that I can now keep my own!

I was asked myself how we teach our own children to be healthy individuals. Part of it is my background in studying nutrition in school, part of it is wanting to incorporate a healthy lifestyle in our children, and part of it is just pure luck.

My children love their veggies and I have never had any problems getting them to eat anything green. It has become a running joke among some of my girlfriends that I have taken my son to McDonald’s and brought him a peanut butter & jelly with carrot sticks in lieu of a Happy Meal. People were asking me how I do that and the fact was that my son just preferred that over the Happy Meal and asked me to make his lunch. Who can argue with that?

We always try to offer fruits and vegetables at every meal. Carrot sticks, apple slices, dried fruits & nut trail mixes, broccoli hearts, green peas, bananas- these are just a few of our children’s favorite treats.

For those who need to be more inventive, be sure to visit my Picky Eater article and Picky Eater recipes for tips on getting your little one in the fresh fruits & veggies mode.

Many thanks again to all of our participants. You all are a wealth of knowledge and I look forward to offering more giveaways in the future!

Winning Entry #1:
I believe that raising healthy children starts with quality time. I choose to be home with my children.

I can limit television time and encourage active playtime using their imagination.

I can teach them about healthy eating habits by teaching them to choose healthy foods. These might include fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt, etc.

I can encourage them to be healthy and fit by doing so myself. Remember the old saying,

"Teach what you preach"? If they see Mom and Dad as healthy individuals they will want to choose that as well. Exercise, run, walk and play with them outside. Go to the playground and park.

I think the #1 key to a healthy child is encourage and being a role model yourself.

Winning Entry #2:
Instead of having your kids in front of the TV or video game machine, take them to the library and let them have their own library card. Also, let them pick a subject to research, such as a certain bug or animal. You could even let them research cultures or habitats. Help them learn how to look for the books. Then when it comes time to check out their books, help them do the self check out. Have them also be responsible for returning books. Have a weekly library day scheduled. Spend 30 minutes a night reading these books with your child. If they are old enough, they can spend time drawing pictures etc. of the things they like in the books they are reading.

Also, a lot of communities have organic fruits and veggies delivered to a central location for a weekly fee. The boxes contain a variety of new and different products. The boxes in our community give us all different recipes to try with the variety of fruits and veggies. The cost is only 28.00 every other week. The kids like to see what is new in the box. This also supports local agriculture. The recipe ideas help the children try new things.

Winning Entry #3
I have seven children, ranging from age 9 to 28. We are all very healthy, although I can’t totally take credit for it. Obviously, our genes play a part. I have made it a priority to incorporate healthful habits into our way of life, and am happy to share what works for us. Some of my "tips" may be unexpected, but I believe the following all contribute to some extent:

1) Mental and moral health affects our physical bodies. Our immune system gets weakened when we carry bitterness or guilt. A clear conscience is a tremendous asset.

2) Good oral hygiene prevents germs from spreading though our circulatory system. Regular flossing and brushing should be incorporated into our schedule.

3) Good sleep gives our bodies the opportunity to rest and recover from the demands of the day. People who chronically burn the candle at both ends compromise the body's ability to repair itself.

4) Obviously, good nutrition helps. This means different things to different people. I have a friend who never gives her children sweets, while I allow mine to eat some. On the other hand, I eschew fast food, both because I can't control what's in it, and because it's more expensive than homemade. Our kids get soda, for example, about once a month. That way, they don't feel deprived, and I'm not worried the empty calories will affect them too much, since they also eat good food. My daughter takes the time to make yogurt for her family, which is very nutritious. I have always made our own bread, using whole wheat flour, because I believe it's worth the time and effort. I have tried to use beans at least once a week and tuna likewise, for their health benefits. Minestrone is one of the cheapest, most nutritious and easy entrees to make. I just soak my beans overnight, start crocking in the morning, then add lentils, barley, carrots, onions, garlic, meat, and tomato sauce in the middle. I rarely use convenience foods, preferring to make our own pizza, macaroni and cheese, chili, chicken vegetable soup, etc., from scratch. My kids can help make these!

5) Although I realize there are circumstances when mothers cannot breastfeed their babies, it is the best first food. Formulas try to duplicate it, but there's nothing like the real thing for the right balance of protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, mother's milk does contain specific antibodies for extra protection.

6) Hydration is important to help the body digest food properly and get rid of waste materials. I make a point of drinking plenty of water during the day, and encourage my children to do likewise. Although I do drink coffee and milk, I limit our sodas and even fruit juices. Whole fruit is better.

7) Exercise plays a vital role in maintaining health. I have always walked at least an hour a day, and often exhort my children to go play outside. We watch maybe five hours of television a year, and a video every month or so, to minimize the couch potato tendencies so prevalent today. Any activity, whether walking, bicycling, swimming, or jumping on the trampoline, helps the immune system.

8) Maintain a good weight. I weigh a little less than when I got married, and work hard to keep it that way. None of my kids is obese, and they've never had to diet.

9) Make sure your kids realize smoking and drugs are bad habits to start. I homeschool my children, so they aren't exposed to a lot of the pressure many other kids experience, but I feel a good parent-child relationship will make children less likely to be tempted to go with the flow of their peers.

It does take time and effort to do the above, but I'd rather have an ounce of prevention than a pound of cure. Aside from the few emergency room visits we've had to make for broken bones, we rarely have to go to the doctor. We do have the usual annual checkups, but that's about it.

Winning Entry #4
We've been going to the YMCA for a while now and in the past I've just put all of my kids in childcare and gone to the cardio room to do machines by myself. Lately, though, I've been taking at least the older ones (and by older I'm talking 8 and 6 - the 5 year old has also asked to go) to the gym and running on the track with them. They think it's a lot of fun and they see me exercise (which is not something I love, but something I'm working on)- so we're learning to fit this into our family together.

Another thing I recently did was to buy (gasp) a bag of shredded carrots (there was a good reason I bought them that way - I was in a hurry to take a nutritious meal to a family at the hospital that night - in the future I will just shred them myself). They are the perfect munching size and my kids really liked them, liked their texture because they were matchstick size. This is going to be a good snack for them as opposed to the basket of chocolate Easter eggs that I'm usually tempted to let them dip into for a snack... We're trying to make changes as a family, so when I let them have input into that process (choose your favorite fruit for me to put on the grocery list, etc), they are more likely to participate in the eating of said healthier things. Megan

Winning Entry #5
Here is my list of suggestions, or we could call them lessons learned because I became a mother at 18, a child myself. One of my goals is to encourage mothers, most especially young, single mothers and share with them that their life isn’t over, and there is hope to give their child a good life. It takes prayer and a lot of hard work and determination!

I think the most important part of motherhood is love and caring. Being there in a way that makes a child feel secure and loved - hugs, kisses and ILUs go a long way towards raising a child that doesn't need to look elsewhere for comfort (drugs, sex, food, etc). Trust your child and believe they are capable of the best. Expect them to do the smart thing, the right thing and don't always assume because they are kids, they won't get it right. I asked my twelve year old daughter not long ago why and she said that I'm a great Mom, and she said "because you trust us and treat us like we're not stupid kids" I talk to my kids and tell them the truth. Sometimes that's hard, but I don't hide things unless it's something they really can't handle as a child. Children know when we're hiding things from them and it's scary. The explanation doesn't have to be detailed, but just an acknowledgement and reassurance makes all the difference.

Other than that, here's a short list I'd swear by:

1. Children need a lot of sleep. 8 hours is a minimum, more is better. Set a bed time and stick to it. Allowing your kids to stay up until 11 or 12 because they are difficult to get to bed leads to children who can't concentrate in school.

2. Don't do everything for your kids. It handicaps them and makes them feel worthless. Give them chores, allow them to think and work through problems. Don't fix all of their problems. Comfort them when they're sad, but allow them to be sad. They'll know how to deal with their emotions when they're grown if you allow them to work through it in a safe environment when they're young.

3. Find out what your kids are interested in and help them develop that. Steer them toward an interest of yours, but don't be disappointed if they don't want to be a sports nut, a ballerina, etc. It's THEIR life. Allow them to find themselves and make their own mistakes. My S20 hates sports. DH loves them. Our son tried to be good at baseball to please his Dad. He wasn't good at it and was always falling short. He walked off the field at 10 years old and refused to play again. His Dad was disappointed. It took awhile, but Dad finally realized that his son is interested in diving and robotics. He's pretty proud now... not of those few baseball trophys, but of the son that will be a college honor grad with a degree in engineering next year.. and, he earned scholarships that entirely paid his way through school. Allowing our children to devote their energy to their dreams and not ours create adults who know how and what to be passionate about.

4. Don't try to treat your kids equally and make everything the same. Acknowledge that they are individuals with individual needs as they're growing. Kids that think things have to always be equal and fair will likely turn into jealous people. Sometimes one of my children will get more attention and love than another. If they do, it's because right then, they need that. If I see one of their siblings feeling left out, I talk to them about it and explain what's going on so they'll understand. I also explain the when they need their parents, we'll be there in the same way for them. I can honestly say that we've never had a case of sibling rivalry and jealousy between our four kids.

5. Have weekly family meetings where everyone gets a chance to talk and resolve problems. Share the good things and bad things about the week. Celebrate when someone changes an annoying habit, or progress is made on problems. This give the whole family a chance to vent, be supportive and understand what each other is thinking. Make it fun, but serious.

6. Don't fight with your kids teachers. Support them unless they are doing things that harm your child. Kids need to know that their teachers have their parents respect and support. It's just a bad idea to create conflict with the person who has so much of your child's time every day. If there is a disagreement with a teacher, don't say bad things about the teacher in front of the child. Meet with the principle and work it out like adults.

7. Be consistent. Have rules and enforce them. Don't threaten a punishment you're not willing to follow through on. Be firm, kind and forgiving.

Thanks for giving me a chance to share Amy! Our kids aren't perfect, but I think they're turning out pretty good :) Our family motto is: Live Simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly, Laugh freely and Leave the rest to God.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Good Kids Bad Habits Book Contest

I am holding in my hands a copy of the new book, "Good Kids Bad Habits" by Jennifer Trachtenberg, M.D., and it is ready to go to the person who offers the best suggestions for raising healthy children.

This book is a guide to raising healthy children and it offers suggestions to parents on ways they can help their children avoid problems such as childhood obesity and chronic adult diseases. Ms. Trachtenburg is a pediatrician and also the mother of three children. She has authored this book to encourage parents to help their children make healthy choices and she shows how problems such as sleeplessness and video-game addictions can be avoided by guiding our children towards healthy options.

Please email to me at [email protected], your suggestion for raising healthy children. Do you have a special snack? Do you have a way you encourage your children to be active? What are healthy choices you teach your children? Please email your suggestion, along with your name & mailing address, and I will post the results next Friday with our freebies.

For more information on this book, please visit their website. Many thanks to HaperCollins for giving us the opportunity to run this contest with our readers!

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stepping Outside of the Bread Box

Remember when I shared with you how nervous I was about working with dough? Well, I put that behind me when I began making the Buttery Bread Machine Rolls. I have been cranking out rolls, pizza, and loaves of bread over here many times since that post. I am no longer inhibited when it comes to dough and have been having a lot of fun working with it.

For bread novices, Smitten Kitchen has an excellent post on eight tips for making great bread. She goes through a picture tutorial on working with dough, the perfect temperature of the loaf, how to tell if your dough has doubled and much more! It is a great post full of information for those of you who are like me and still learning the whole bread making process.

Stephanie, over at Stop the Ride!, has also started a "Make It From Scratch" contest where everyone attempts making something from scratch that they have never done before. As she says, everyone's take on scratch-cooking is different. For example, if making a boxed cake mix is from scratch for all means, break out that Betty Crocker mix! It has been interesting to see everyone's entries.

For my entry, I found this great bread recipe from and we had this several nights last month. For me, free forming dough was a new thing and so was making French bread. This recipe said that it was foolproof. Well, I am a fool when it came to bread and this recipe did not fail me at all! It makes two loaves of delicious French bread and they have turned out perfect every single time. We use the first loaf for dipping in olive oil with our dinner and the second loaf can get chopped up for homemade croutons, made into French toast, or it can be used for paninis. The possibilities with these loaves are endless.

I have not bought a loaf of French bread since using this recipe. It is that good...really! Enjoy!

Failproof French Bread

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 package dry yeast (or 2. 25 teaspoons of yeast if purchased in bulk)
1 1/4 cup warm water

Place ingredients in bread machine according to manufacturers directions.
Start machine on dough setting. When dough cycle is complete, remove dough with floured hands and cut in half on floured surface. Take each half of dough and roll to make a loaf about 12 inches long in the shape of French bread. Place on greased baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450°. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown, turning pan around once halfway during baking. Remove baked loaves to wire racks to cool.

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