Friday, July 27, 2012

Eat this!

My mother-in-law got us the Eat This, Not That book for kids. Not in the "you-need-help" kind of way, but in a "knew-you-would-enjoy-this" kind of way. She's good like that. While a lot of it is common sense, and we eat at very few of the chain restaurants they profile, I still thought there were some good tips - a few of which I'll share!

I was pretty much of a food nazi before Ellen was born regarding what I planned on her eating. That continued for most of her first year - I made almost everything that went in her mouth, most of it organic, and she was a delightful eater. I loosened up quite a bit as she started eating meals at school, by necessity and to avoid rocking the boat too much, and have continued to loosen up. Did I think I would share my secret stash of gummy bears with her? No, but it can't be avoided and, really, what's the harm in a gummy bear or two?

Again, I think common sense prevails: we eat most meals at home, cooked by me, and she eats virtually anything I put in front of her. She is willing to try almost any new food and that is just as important to me as feeding her healthy food (which I do). We eat out with family or friends once a week or so, and she gets a special mom-daughter lunch every now and then, which is fun and fine. She doesn't notice if I order her green beans instead of fries, but she also gets to sneak a few fries from someone else's plate. She is a snack-lover, and I try to make healthy choices (beyond fruit or veggies, of course). She eats a lot of organic food, but not everything.

Here are some things I found interesting:
- Chick-Fil-A got the award for America's Healthiest Chain Restaurant for Kids. Politics aside (which I do struggle with, damn you waffle fries), a chicken strip, fruit and milk is a pretty decent "treat" lunch.
- Chipotle is surprisingly less healthy than I would have thought. Crispy steak tacos? Yes. Soft chicken tacos? Not nearly as healthy. No cheese or sour cream, of course, is what they recommend. Boo.
- Dairy Queen strawberry sundae has 260 calories and 7g of fat and the sauce's first ingredient is strawberries, as it should be. This is a lot better than a milkshake, though maybe similar to a Blizzard. We don't often get to DQ, usually opting for FroYo, but I do love me a dipped cone.
- I don't ever get to Jamba Juice, and frankly am not even sure we have one near us, but I guess they have an All Fruit Line of smoothies just like I would make at home.
- Krispy Kreme: If we eat donuts, we go to our fave local place. But, the book says that the sugar donut at KK has less sugar than any other donut on the menu. Who knew?
- It's funny how I rationalize fast food that Ellen eats. She has never had a meal from McDonald's, though has eaten at Chick-fil-A plenty of times. The small vanilla cone at McDonald's is a great treat for kids - 45 calories, 1 g fat, 6 g sugar. Go ahead, get one for yourself, too. The Egg McMuffin is also a pretty healthy breakfast in a pinch, as far as fast food breakfasts go.
- Ellen was begging for Panera this week. I usually get her the kid meal with a turkey sandwich, but a healthier choice is the half chicken salad sandwich on wheat bread. Bonus - Ells would eat this!
- The Wendy's single hamburger with everything (minus mayo) is one of the healthiest fast food hamburgers. 

For grocery store items:
- We usually buy the Nature Valley granola bars because I think they have the fewest "weird" ingredients. Surprisingly, the Clif Kid organic chocolate ZBar has less calories, less fat and more fiber. Seems counter-intuitive, but Ellen would be THRILLED to get to eat this.
- Most other grocery store items are as you would expect - watch for hidden sugar and calories, whole wheat over white, etc, etc. We don't buy much packaged food, but I must say that I really do like regular pasta vs. whole wheat. Sue me. I bought a loaf of white bread from the bakery this week for meatloaf sandwiches (the only acceptable method) and Ellen hardly knew what it was.

And, for the pregnant among you, if faced with a a vending machine at work: Nacho cheese Doritos have fewer calories and about the same fat as a bag of cheese Goldfish. Go for it. :)

I also read a good tip somewhere this week - The mother's rule was that her kids had to ask her before getting any snack, but they could have a piece of fruit (or veggies I suppose) without asking. The path of least resistance is also the healthiest!

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