Repurposing Old Plastic Containers as Mini Greenhouses for Sprouting Seeds
Reused Cans Painted for Mini-Planters
- Turkey and cheese roll-ups (Turkey mummies, if you will!)
- Fruit of any kind, but especially easy finger foods like grapes, oranges, apple slices, or bananas
- Yogurt cups
- Cheese sticks of all kinds (There are tons of different flavors to choose from at your local Brookshire Brothers!)
- Cucumber slices with a little vinegar, salt, and pepper
- Cinnamon toast with butter on whole wheat bread
- Or see some of my favorite grab-and-go snack options here!
- Fruit snacks and gummies, especially with natural flavors and colors (These fruit-filled recipes are frightfully good—and healthy!)
- Inexpensive trinkets such as stickers, temporary tattoos, or bouncy balls
- Simple chocolates
- 100% fruit juice in small boxes or pouches
- Snack-sized bags of freeze dried fruit, raisins, or pretzels (Another wicked-good snack to try: Rice Krispies Treats with fall flavors and fun topping ideas!)
- Small bags of pre-popped popcorn (Make your scary movie night really pop with these three fun popcorn recipes!)
- One of my favorite new products is fermented sauerkraut, which is full of healthy probiotics and has a fresh salty and tangy crunch. It can be eaten alone as a side dish or on sandwiches and hot dogs (like pickles). While it’s usually located in the refrigerated section of your Brookshire Brothers, you can also just ask your store manager, or make a product request!
- If you don’t have time for fresh fruit, there are other good options (with minimal added sugars) to choose from: dried fruit, cut fruit packed in juice, or individually wrapped packages of unsweetened apple sauce.
- Some great vegetable options include fresh baby carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, celery, and bell pepper strips.
- boiled eggs
- cold cuts and cheese roll-ups
- tortilla and cream cheese roll-ups
- tuna salad, chicken salad, pasta salad, or egg salad on a bed of lettuce or with a side of wholesome crackers
- cream cheese and turkey bagel-sandwiches
- sandwiches of all varieties
As seen in Charm East Texas
"I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!”
“No, we are having steak and baked potatoes for dinner.”
“But I want a peanut butter and jelly saaaaandwich!”
Did your blood pressure just go up a little bit? I apologize. Sounds familiar, though, doesn’t it? Everyone has been around finicky eaters. Whether it’s your kids, your friends’ kids, your grandkids, your in-laws and even you, everybody knows somebody who is picky. Children are the usual culprits. Many picky children grow into picky adults, and picky adults tend to bring up picky children, and so the cycle continues.
In America, it seems to be the norm to run your dinner menu by guests in advance because many people are finicky eaters. Not every place is like this, however. My husband and I lived in a rural area in France for a year, and we had many, shall we say, interesting dinner party experiences. What did they all have in common? Dinner takes a long time — a long, long time. Another common denominator was that no one ever asked us if we liked what they were serving in advance. It was just expected that we ate everything and that everything was delicious. Same goes for the children we would dine with — they ate pretty much everything. Mushrooms? Check. Scallops? Sure. Pâté? Yum! Nothing seemed to be off limits. I always marveled at this, but had only a few clues from observing their food culture as to how it was possible that everyone seemed to enjoy such a wide variety of foods, until recently when the light bulb finally went off. I read a book by Karen Le Billon titled “French Kids Eat Everything” that shed some light on why the French seem to love food so much. Maybe by incorporating one or two of her observations into your own family’s food culture, you can get your kids to eat escargot. Or on second thought, maybe just settle for green beans.
Parents are in charge of food education.
It shouldn’t be up to Popeye the Sailor Man to convince your children that all kinds of food are yummy. It is up to you. And the best way to do that is by modeling good eating behavior by eating a wide variety of foods prepared lots of different ways. The best place to start is at the dinner table. You can’t educate your kids about good food if you only sit down and eat together once a month.
Limit emotional eating.
This guideline is so tough to follow. It means that ideally, food shouldn’t be used as a reward for good behavior, as a punishment, or as a baby sitter. Food is for enjoyment and nourishment within the context of meals, but when it is used as a means of manipulating your behavior, “treat” foods may become even more desirable and “healthy” foods might seem like a punishment. Eating this way can also teach you to ignore your hunger and fullness signals.
Parents plan the menu and kids eat what adults eat.
No short-order cooking for the picky eaters. It’s helpful to lay out what will be served in advance so meal time isn’t always a surprise and complaining might be able to happen prior to the meal rather than at the dinner table. It’s also helpful to serve at least two different foods at each meal so that your children have some control over what they want to eat, but it’s important not to prepare a separate meal if they don’t like what’s being served. When introducing a new food, always make sure there’s at least one familiar food served as well. If kids decide not to eat much at that meal, they can wait to eat at the next scheduled meal.
Eat family meals together without distractions.
In the world of cell phones and social media, it’s important to unplug for a few minutes each day and just enjoy each other’s company. Talk about your day. Talk about the yummy food. Talk about those awesome food articles by the dietitian in Charm. Just talk. This does, however, require that you actually eat together, so do your best to make that happen.
Eat your veggies — variety is key.
Instead of eating the same veggies week after week, try something new, or even try a familiar veggie in a new way. Roasting is my favorite way to make veggies delicious. A sheet pan, some olive oil, salt, pepper and a high oven temperature can make almost any veggie delicious in a matter of 20-30 minutes.
You don’t have to like it but you do have to taste it.
Amazingly, children eat their best when they are actually hungry. Who would have thought? Grazing and snacking will spoil anyone’s appetite, so make meals and any appropriate snacks predictable and scheduled as much as possible. My favorite schedule is one afternoon snack at least two hours before dinner time to get everyone through until supper is ready.
Eat slowly. Savor. Listen to relaxing music. Don’t rush through cooking and eating but stop to actually think about what you’re doing and experiencing.
Eat mostly “real” food.
There is a place in the world for hot dogs, chicken strips, cookies and candy, but the majority of food should be simple foods that nature provides. Even so, all food should be savored and enjoyed, no matter what it is.
Relax. Eating is joyful.
This principle is my favorite of all. If you could describe good eating in a nutshell, that’s it. So stop stressing about calories, vitamins, fiber and achieving nutritional perfection, and just enjoy. Relax. Savor. Eat.
Applying a few of these ideas is worth a try for a few weeks if you want to nudge a finicky eater in the right direction, even if it’s your husband. I, for one, would never try to coax my husband into eating things he doesn’t enjoy. Believe me? I didn’t think so. Bon appetit.
Angela Larson is a registered dietitian (RD) who works with Brookshire Brothers promoting real fresh, real delicious healthy foods and providing nutrition education to the community. She is also a clinical dietitian representing Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin where she does community education on food and nutrition. Food is her passion, so Angela loves trying new recipes and exploring the more holistic side of nutrition. Angela loves to cook, garden, and spend time outdoors. Look for Angela's monthly articles in Charm East Texas.
April showers bring May flowers and these bright and cheery lunchboxes celebrate the best of both!
Springtime brings lots of colorful fun, so we’re celebrating by adding it into our lunchboxes! We’ve got two bright and cheery combos sure to bring a smile to any kid’s face.
Our first lunchbox isn’t just adorable, it’s delicious too! We made a kid-friendly pasta salad with bowtie noodles plus a little salt and butter, then tossed it all together with Cascadian Farm frozen organic sweet peas. Next, using Betty Crocker™ Fruit Gushers®, we created an adorable flower and added fresh snap peas for greenery. Last, but not least, we also added a tasty Larabar for a hint of sweetness!
The second lunchbox is sure to satisfy your growing kid’s appetite! We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the shape of flowers, which is way easier than you might think. Spread peanut butter and the jelly of your choice between two pieces of bread and cut into a circle using a biscuit cutter. Then, cut 5 slits around the sandwich to make the “petals.” Finally, garnish with a fruit Gusher to complete the flower!
We also made flower veggie sticks with carrots and cucumber. Simply cut a slice of cucumber about 1/3-inch thick. Cut the slice in half and remove the seeds. Take a washed and peeled carrot and also cut a slice about 1/3-inch thick. Using a small knife, cut out two small, triangular pieces from one end to create the look of flower petals. To assemble the “flower”, place the carrot slice inside the cucumber slice and fasten with a toothpick for the “stem.” For a sweet treat, we made a “dirt garden” with ½ cup of chocolate pudding topped with crushed Oreo cookies. The flower was made using Dots candies, but any flowery and sweet garnish will work. We also added a Nature Valley granola bar to eat at lunch or to be saved for a yummy snack.
Our final flower power-packed lunch is super easy and super cute! We put together a turkey and cheese sandwich and using a cookie cutter, made it into an adorable flower. We wanted this lunchbox to be super-easy but still fun so we added a Go-Gurt, red and green grapes, and pretzels. We also packed along one of our rainbow Chex Bars (a fun take on the regular Rice Krispy Treat). Instead of making one batch, we divided the recipe into five small batches and added food coloring to each portion individually and stacked each colorful layer. Any other fun treat you have on hand would work great, but we couldn’t pass this fun snack up with all the bright colors!
What are some of your favorite springtime, lunchbox-approved recipes? We want to hear from you!
School is almost out and I can see a pantry full of cookies, chips, and popcorn. This is the go-to for most school-aged kids, but what if we made healthy snacks just as available? This year, take the time to prepare some cute and healthy snacks and your kids will thank you.
String Cheese & Pretzel Sticks
Give your kids a protein boost and a low-fat snack. This combo will keep your kids satisfied while you can catch up on a good book!
Want to make this snack extra fun? Split the cheese stick half way up and push the pretzel stick in the other end of your cheese stick to make a witch broomstick. We all know the way to a kid’s tummy is through fun food!
Apples & Peanut Butter
You can’t get away from this classic duo when thinking of healthy snacks. However, you can put a spin on it for your kids. Make little sandwiches out of apple slices and peanut butter. Create an even more filling combo by adding oats and raisins on the peanut butter. This treat will help you remember…an apple a day really will keep the doctor away.
Grapes and Cheese Cubes
This fresh snack will be a family favorite. Stack the grape on top of the cheese cube and use toothpicks to make this a grab-and-go snack. If your kids are craving a sweet and salty bite, they’ll polish off a plate of these.
Don’t just stop there. Continue making food fun for your kids with bento box ideas. Grab cookie cutters to create shapes or create a face in your yogurt. You could even use cheerios for eyes! Be playful and your kids will love the time and creativity spent in each delightful dish.
Borden Cheese is helping to keep your summer healthy!