Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Picky Eater Q&A

I will be hosting a free call-in for parents of picky eaters on June 14, 2011 at 8pm EST/5pm PST. For more information about this event and to register, visit Kitchen Table Parents.

If you can't join us live, please leave your questions in the comments below. A replay recording will be made available to Kitchen Table Parents members.

So what are your most burning questions about feeding your kids successfully? What would you like to know?

Monday, May 16, 2011

What's More Important in a Family Meal: The Food or the Family?

Recently I was posed the question, “What’s more important in a family meal: the food or bringing your family together?”

I would argue that both are important, but if I were pressed to choose one, I would say that bringing family members together is the more significant component. I readily admit that background as a psychologist biases me toward that choice. The numerous studies that consistently find a positive relationship between the frequency of family meals and child and adolescent outcome variables (e.g., lower risk for substance use, lower risk of disordered eating, lower risk of mental health problems) focus on the act of the family eating together, not on what food is served at those meals.

The act of bringing your family together is not easy. It encompasses organization, family cohesion, communication, cooperation, and commitment. So it is likely that not only the act of eating together, but also all these other variables that go into making a family meal happen, that benefit our children. Further, when children eat with their families frequently, they have been found to be more likely to eat more nutritious food.

I have sometimes seen parents get overly focused on the food aspect of family meals. I’m not saying that it’s not important, and I personally put a great deal of thought into planning meals with a variety of vegetables, grains, and lean proteins. I don’t, however, plan my meals based on the nutritional analyses of particular recipes or completely avoid serving “bad” foods. When the focus is on getting “good” food “into” a child, and not on helping him learn how to develop a healthy long-term relationship with, success is likely to be very limited. As Brian Wansink and his colleagues said,  “No food is nutritious, after all, until it is actually eaten.” Moreover, you may be unintentionally be raising an “orthorexic”  or be increasing your child’s anxiety around food.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please feel free to post your comments.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Whole Family Cooking

I am very excited to have the opportunity to host Michelle Stern of WhatsCookingWithKids.com next week for our teleseminar, Whole Family Cooking. Michelle and I will be discussing:

  • ideas for cooking with kids
  • how to get your whole family excited about eating healthy meals
  • how to cook healthy, seasonal, and local food that goods both for your health and the environment
  • how to involve your family in charitable activities using food and cooking
This teleseminar is free to all Kitchen Table Parents members (and Basic membership is also free!). Learn more and register here. This event will take place on Tuesday May 10, 2011 at 9:00pm Eastern/6:00pm Pacific.

Michelle has also generously offered to giveaway one copy of her new cookbook, The Whole Family Cookbook. To enter to win a copy of this family-friendly and earth-friendly cookbook, you must do two things: 1) be a registered member of Kitchen Table Parents and 2) leave a question or comment here for our teleseminar.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Salade Nicoise

Did you know that May is National Mediterranean Diet Month? Neither did I until my friends at Oldways told me. Don't let the word "diet" throw you. I am not one to advocate for dieting, but the Mediterranean way of eating is one that I more or less try to follow myself and with my family - lots of whole grains, fruits, veggies, some dairy, and fish. Best of all, it is a way of eating based on simple, delicious foods and supports enjoying the pleasures of the table with friends and family. To spread the message about the the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and its lifestyle practices, Oldways and its Mediterranean Foods Alliance are launching an ambitious program to deliver 1 million Med Diet Pyramids to Americans. Get yours here.

In celebration of this month, Oldways has shared this delicious recipe with me and my readers. You can prepare the cooked ingredients in advance and then throw this salad together on a night when you're pressed for time but still want to enjoy a delicious, healthy meal.

Salade Ni├žoise


1/2 pound potatoes
1/2 pound fresh green beans
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 large onion, sliced very thin
1 can (5-6 oz) chunk light tuna, drained
4 hard boiled eggs, quartered 2 large tomatoes, quartered

1. Scrub the potatoes and cut into bite-size pieces. Trim the ends off the beans. Bring two saucepans of water to a boil and cook the potatoes and beans until fork-tender but not mushy, approximately 10 minutes for the potatoes and 3 minutes for the beans. Drain immediately. Or, steam each until tender.
2.In a large bowl, combine the olive oil with the vinegar, mustard and garlic, and whisk to make the dressing.
3. Add the onion, potatoes, beans, and tuna to the bowl and toss gently with the dressing.
4. Arrange the vegetables and tuna on a platter and garnish with the egg and tomato quarters.

Makes 4 servings. Photo shows 4 servings.

Option: Drain and rinse 1 can of white beans (cannellini, Great Northern, navy, etc.) and toss with the salad in step 3.