Why I'll have A TEAL PUMPKIN at my door on Halloween...

The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT was started by FARE (Food Allergy, Research and Education) to promote a safer Halloween for the estimated 15 million Americans with food allergies. As a pediatric dietitian and mom to a kid with serious allergies, I took the pledge last year and have again this year to offer non-food treats to trick-or-treaters who request them. I am committed to helping make Halloween safe and fun for everyone. Check out the details at Tealpumpkinproject.org

Logo courtesy of FARE

Logo courtesy of FARE

Photo courtesy of FARE

Photo courtesy of FARE

Allergies may seem like a nuisance for play dates and parties. I often hear parents complain. And if you aren’t affected, I totally get it. It seems crazy to read labels and worry whether something was manufactured on a machine that might manufacture an allergen. But if you are parent, like I am, who has driven your heart out to get your kid to the hospital in time (next time I’ll call 911), scooped up your kid and run them into the ER while they are in the midst of anaphylaxis - eyes swollen shut, coughing, sputtering and wheezing, hives popping up all over their body, and if you have desperately handed your kid over to several angels who immediately gave your child the life-saving medications needed, you would agree that those seemingly small acts, perhaps annoying at times, really are acts of kindness. That moment of terror, watching helplessly as your child is well beyond your help... If you had experienced that, trust me, you would never want any kid or parent to go through that again. And those extra steps you take, well I think I can speak for other allergy parents when I say, we all thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

While my child's allergies don't typically come into play on Halloween, I most sincerely feel for parents with kids whose do. So, I am more than happy to buy a few small Halloween non-food goodies, place them in a separate bowl, and help everyone have a safer and happier Halloween. Don't have time to paint a teal pumpkin? No problem, just print out the sign from FARE's website, and hang on your front window or door. Add your address to the map on FARE's website, so people will know where they can trick-or-treat safely. Please consider joining me in this meaningful project! Go to FARE's Teal Pumpkin Project to learn more!

Check out my teal pumpkin - all ready for Halloween!

Have a safe and spooky Halloween! And make sure to check out my Instagram and Facebook feeds for some healthy Halloween treat ideas!

Fall Inspiration

It’s been awhile guys. A few stops and starts, but Petite Nutrition is alive and well. I’ve been doing a little more consulting, and a little less blogging, but let’s get going again, shall we?

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

I’ve had a busy end of summer and early fall. Mid-summer I decided to try to complete a sprint triathalon, (1/2 mile swim, 13 mile bike, 3 mile run), something I’d never done before.  Let’s be honest, I’m not much of a swimmer or biker, but it was extremely fun! I trained with a friend (which made it way more fun)…we laughed so hard while training in the pool, I thought I was going to drown a few times. But we worked out the kinks with wet suits, transitioning out of the ocean and onto a bike, and then into a run. And guess what? We did it! We may not have been the fastest of the bunch, but it was a ton of fun to complete it! As someone who has run a lot of races in my past, I loved the mixed training. I never got bored, because we were always switching activities. I totally recommend picking some sort of race, training with a friend, and completing it. It is not only incredibly motivating, great for your health, but also great modeling for your kids! It was wonderful to have our families supporting us at the race! My daughter wants to do it with me in a few years when she gets older! I even have photos to prove our big day!

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Last weekend, I jetted out to San Francisco for a long weekend, and I got to do something really special. I literally flew 3,000 to surprise my mom for her birthday. How cool is it to ring the doorbell, and say happy birthday to someone you adore in person when she would never expect it? It may have been even better for me than her! Check out this adorable video of her surprise!

Being in the California sunshine always inspires me. It makes me want to grow, eat and cook fruits and vegetables. My mom and I even had a day of cooking together for an ill friend, which was a wonderful way to spend some time. Food is love, friends!

Photo credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo credit: Petite Nutrition

Okay, while berries are certainly not representative of fall in New England, California is a little different. Check out some of the scenes from my trip that have left me inspired:

Grapevines:

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Pomegranates are getting close:

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

And the persimmons, which are not quite ripe yet:

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Gorgeous day in San Francisco for some cousin love and art museum touring (do you spy the Golden Gate bridge):

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

And of course this cutie, my nature girl, who loves to spend sunny California days riding bikes and catching lizards and butterflies! 

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Stay tuned to next week, when I get my head out of the clouds, and get serious about apples and pumpkins and fall! Cheers to a great week, friends!

Tips #9-14 (Helping our Kids be Better Eaters)

9.) Building treats into your children's day is important. You don't want kids to feel restricted and sneak treats or stuff themselves at the neighbor's house if they are never allowed to have them at your house.

Photo Credit: Amy Hendren

Photo Credit: Amy Hendren

10.) Sometimes changing the venue of a meal can change the whole mealtime dynamic. Try an outdoor picnic, a "fancy" dining room dinner or even a carpet picnic.

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

11.) Don't make dessert contingent on a healthy food. Some nights are dessert nights, some aren't. Research shows making kids eat one food to get another makes them not like the trigger food and love the reward all the more.

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

12.) Snacks (even healthy ones) kill meals. Make sure they don't get too close to each other.

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

13.) If your kids want to eat their blueberries as dogs would, go with it (as long as they are old enough and won't choke)! It's something we might do in feeding therapy, and chances are they will like them more as a result! (Just maybe not while visiting Grandma's house!)

14). Once in awhile (when you find some extra energy), go for food art. Your kids will love it and thank you and just might eat it!

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

 

 

Tips #6 & #7 (Helping our Kids be Better Eaters)

6.) Taking kids to farmers markets is a great way for kids to explore and get more familiar with fruits and vegetables. (Encourage sampling, play an identification game, and ask each child to pick something out they'd like to try.)

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

7.) Serving meals family style empowers kids to choose, explore on their own terms without pressure, watch and learn from how their parents eat, and in turn expand their food repertoires. 

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

31 Tips (Helping our Kids Be Better Eaters)...for Each Day in July!

I'm starting a new series for the month of July, where I will post a tip each day - 31 of them, to be exact. I don't know about you, but things are busy in the summer. I always think I'll have more time to lay on a hammock somewhere and read a beach book, but alas, summer taxi/moonlighting as working mom seems to be more my M.O. Needless to say, I don't have time to read my favorite blogs right now, so I thought maybe you don't either? I hope a bite-sized daily mini-blog with an easy-to-try tip would be just what hits the spot for us this July! Subscribe or follow Petite Nutrition to come along for the ride...

1.) Give your kids a cookbook you love (with wonderful pictures in it), and have them mark the pages of recipes they would like to try. Including them in food preparation empowers them, and gives them ownership and motivation to try slightly less familiar dishes. When you make the dishes they selected, you can all try it together for the first time!

Lots of bookmarks in Gwyneth's great cookbook!

Lots of bookmarks in Gwyneth's great cookbook!

Join us...Wellness Workshops

Temps are soaring, summer is around the corner, and it's a great time to improve your family's nutrition! We are offering THREE Wellness Workshops in our West Hartford office. $30 to attend ($5 discount for following us on 2 of 4: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or by subscribing to our Blog.) See details below.

Clean Food 101:

Do you feel overwhelmed with all the information on everything from arsenic to dyes, to artificial sweeteners, to GMOs? Not sure how to interpret all that information when it comes to feeding your family? Let us synthesize it for you at our wellness workshop. We will cover the nuts and bolts of food additives, and offer realistic strategies on how to feed your family safely. Come join us for an information-filled 90 minutes that will empower you to feed you family safely.

Thursday May 21st 6:30-8:00pm

Wednesday June 3rd 6:30-8:00pm

Register: workshops@petitenutrition.com

Petite Nutrition's Parents' Sugar Challenge: 

Start your summer off right. Learn all the names of sugar, how to detect them on ingredient lists, and go sugar-free for two weeks. See how you feel when you replace added sugar in your diet with wholesome food. Join us for two sessions plus supportive emails, so we can help you kick the sugar habit and energize your life!

Saturday May 30th 9:00-10:00am

Saturday June 6th 9:00-10:00am

Register: workshops@petitenutrition.com

Petite Nutrition's 5 Step Plan for Feeding Your Finicky Toddler: 

Toddlers are famous for giving up their infant feeding habits and driving you stark raving mad - eating one day, abstaining the next, loving a food today, hating it tomorrow. Let us help you with our five step process that will set you and your toddler up for success in feeding now and as they grow. Come join us for an information-filled 90 minutes that will empower you to feed your toddler and family better.

Wednesday May 27th 6:30-8:00pm

Thursday June 4th 6:30-8:00pm

Register: workshops@petitenutrition.com

Grab a friend and come on over. We can't wait to see you there. Any questions? Email us at: workshops@petitenutrition.com

Happy Bloggy Birthday Baby!

Today Petite Nutrition turns ONE! This blog is a labor of love - I love to write, I love good food, beautiful pictures, and of course, I’m passionate about feeding kids. That said, I’m also a realist, and I try to write blogs that are positive, helpful, evidence-based, and without judgment. We live in an information-saturated world where it is exhausting to sift through the thousands of articles available to us each day. Thank you, most sincerely, for choosing to read my blog. I appreciate your engagement!

On Petite Nutrition’s first birthday, I thought I’d share our most exciting news. Here’s a hint... This is what I did last weekend (bet you didn't know I could paint)…

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Yep, we are excited to be opening our new office in May in West Hartford. We will be offering different ways to improve your family’s nutrition, including one-on-one coaching, wellness workshops, nutrition analysis, menu development, grocery store tours, pantry makeovers, and more! Wellness Workshops are a bite-sized nutrition opportunity on popular topics that we think will interest you. Don’t live locally, but want some nutrition coaching? We will offer services via Google Hangout! Stay tuned for our May launch!

Spring has sprung (we think)… Spring clean by attending one of our first two Wellness Workshops coming in May…

  • Clean Food 101
  • Petite Nutrition’s Five Step Plan to Feed your Finicky Toddler

Clean Food 101

Ever feel overwhelmed with all the information on everything from arsenic to dyes, to artificial sweeteners, to GMOS? Not sure how to interpret all that information when it comes to feeding your family? Let us synthesize it for you at our wellness workshop. We will cover the nuts and bolts of food additives, and offer realistic strategies on how to feed your family safely.

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Petite Nutrition’s Five Step Plan to Feed your Finicky Toddler

Toddlers are famous for giving up their infant feeding habits and driving you stark raving mad - eating one day, abstaining the next, loving a food today, hating it tomorrow. Let us help you with our five step process that will set you and your toddler up for success in feeding now and as they grow.

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

We are so excited! Like our facebook page and subscribe to our blog to stay informed on all of Petite Nutrition’s happenings because we’ve got a lot of cool stuff in the works! Stay tuned…

Guest Blog: The Number One Thing You Can Do to Stop Picky Eating: Don't Ask!

Today I am pleased to bring you a guest post from fellow pediatric dietitian, author, and blogger, Kate Samela, MS, RD, CSP. Kate and I were on the nutrition staff together at our local childrens hospital. Kate brings tremendous pediatric experience to her book on toddler feeding, Give Peas a Chance: The Fool-Proof Guide to Feeding Your Picky Toddler (Sourcebooks 2013). Plus it is written in an approachable way that is sure to help parents struggling with picky toddlers.

One of the biggest mistakes parents make, especially with toddlers, is asking their child what they would like to eat for any given meal. In a nano second, you have relinquished all of the control you might have had if you just said " breakfast is ready!". I know, not giving choices these days seems like a cruelty - we are all taught to make our kids feel empowered by offering choices. Don't get me wrong, I believe in offering choices to an extent; however, if you ask an open-ended question to a child about what they would like to eat, you might find frustration with their response (i.e. the same old thing he ate for the past few days). This routine of asking actually works against giving your child the opportunity to try new foods. Most toddlers don't even know what they want to eat, as their diets are often limited to ten foods anyway!  Many are surprisingly willing to try new foods when given the chance – repeatedly.

If you are accustomed to asking your child what they would like to eat for each meal, you might start by making small changes and offering just two choices at breakfast and lunch. Dinner should be family style, and he should eat something from the table (i.e. there are no special requests for dinner each night).

Here's an example:  "Timmy, we have waffles or cinnamon toast today for breakfast." Eventually, you may not even have to offer the two choices, and just simply present the food without even asking. Once he understands that there are limits to his choices, he will settle into his meal time routine quite nicely. Remember, kids feel much more secure (hence, fewer tantrums) when parents set boundaries for them. This is true with food too!

Kate Samela MS, RD, CSP has been a Registered Dietitian for 14 years and is board certified by the Commission on Dietetic Registration as a specialist in pediatric nutrition. She just published her first book, Give Peas a Chance: The Fool-Proof Guide to Feeding Your Picky Toddler (Sourcebooks 2013). After obtaining a Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, she spent the next ten years of her career working with children of all ages prescribing nutrition therapy and counseling families on feeding and nutrition; Kate has taught on the topic of pediatric nutrition to hundreds of medical, nursing, and dietetic students at premier children’s hospitals along the east coast. She has spoken nationally and published several articles on various topics of digestive health in nutrition and has been featured on ABC-CT, and Fox-CT News speaking on portion sizes for toddlers and preparing home-made baby food.  Kate currently works in a busy outpatient pediatric practice specializing in digestive diseases and nutrition. She resides in Connecticut with her husband and two children. Check out Kate's Facebook page for more of her thoughts on toddler feeding.

The Unlikely Vegetable that Makes Great Kid Food!

It's no secret that I am a California girl, at heart, embracing my (cold) life in New England! Ha ha!! When I was a kid in California, artichokes were normal fare at our dinner table. We had an artichoke plant in our backyard, for goodness sake! California artichokes always remind me of spring, and my childhood. They are all over menus and stores right now, so give them a try if they aren't in your regular rotation.

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

My kids initially balked at the idea that they would eat those thistle leaves, but after they saw the process, they were intrigued. And soon, they were all in. Here are five reasons (which may surprise you) why artichokes make a GREAT kid food (and food for parents as well)!

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

1.) They are a project to eat, which kids love!

  • Pluck. Dip. Chomp. Repeat!

2.) They are a finger food!

  • No utensils allowed for this one. Kids, did you hear that?

3.) They are a vessel for dip, dip, dipping!

  • Everyone in our family dips them in something different. I'm a hummus girl, hubby uses olive oil and vinegar, Moe's all about butter, and Miff loves her Earth Balance.  
  • As a certified feeding therapist, a strategy we use in feeding therapy is taking an uncomfortable food and having kids lick off a yummy dip (getting a subtle taste of the “scary” food). You can try this at your table, and see if your kids will gradually accept these, if they are squeamish at the get-go.  
  • Host a family taste test and try our dips above, or guacamole, ranch, black bean hummus, yogurt dill sauce, or mayonnaise – there is no right answer here! Have one of the kids be the recorder to tally up which dip is the winner! 

4.) Kids can make all sorts of funky teeth marks at the family dinner table and not get in trouble!

  •  Car tracks, shark bites, mouse nibbles…what else can they think of to imprint in those little leaf edges?
  • Don’t tell them, but this is another feeding therapy strategy – having kids interact with an unfamiliar food in a fun, non-threatening way! (Just don't pressure them to eat it, or the strategy fails. They will get there if they do it on their own terms.)
Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

5.) Artichokes are nutrition powerhouses!

  • Cooked artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable ! (They are notable in Cynarin and Silymarin, antioxidants thought to promote liver health). (1)
  • They are low in calories (only 25 calories in a large artichoke) (1)
  • Artichokes are a good source of fiber (6g of fiber per artichoke), which is 25% of the daily recommended amount for women. (1)
  • They are a good source of vitamin C, folate and magnesium. (1)

(1) www.artichokes.org

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Steamed Artichokes (Serves 4-6)

4 medium artichokes

1 lemon, sliced

1. In a large pot, fill half-way with water and bring to a boil. 

2. Meanwhile trim artichokes. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut off the top of artichoke, including thorn part of leaves. I also use kitchen shears to trim any leaves with prickles on them. Cut the stem shorter, and pull off any small leaves at the base.

4. Place artichokes stem down in basket and turn down heat to simmer. Add slices of lemon to top of artichokes. Cover.

5. Steam until outer leaves pull off easily, about 20-40 minutes depending on artichokes size. They are finished when outer leaves come off easily. Let cool, and serve with dips of your choice.

6. The leaves and heart are edible; the thin, less meaty purplish leaves and choke (hairy center) are not.

 

If all else fails, they turn into beautiful purple flowers (not edible)!

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Sharing is caring. Please share with friends, and if we aren't already, let's be friends?! Like Petite Nutrition on Facebook, Follow us on Instagram, and Twitter. We have lots of exciting stuff coming up, and we'd love to connect with you!

Happily Healthy Hippity Hoppity Treats

My daughter, "Miff", is obsessed with bunnies. As a child with lots of animal allergies, they are one of the few furry friends she can safely snuggle up to. My friend told me a bunny may nibble at my couch and do its business around the house. Um, non-starter, no thank you! So, I thought the classroom bunny would save me from owning our very own pet rabbit. But alas, Cocoa has only made her interest grow. Miff has checked out every single rabbit book from the library, read them, and given me a to-do checklist to get ready for the one and only thing she wants for her birthday. What's a mom to do?

Spring brings bunnies, flowers, Easter and Passover. Easter also has a rather important bunny (who needs to hide the eggs in harder places I'm told). Easter can quickly become a candy fest, so I try to balance some of that with fun, healthy treats (thank you Pinterest) to serve at my brunch and beyond. 

I'm sure you can only imagine how popular these treats were in my bunny-obsessed house!

1. Bunny fruit salad

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

2. Bunny salad

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

3. Bunny pancakes

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

4. Chickies

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

5. Spring veggie and hummus cups

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Happy Easter, Passover or Sunday from bunny headquarters!

Why spending time with kids in the kitchen is worth it

This article originally appeared in a private magazine.

Photo Credit: Amy Hendren

Photo Credit: Amy Hendren

Whenever I see kids in the kitchen, they are baking - whipping up batches of cookies, brownies, cakes, and muffins. There is something idyllic and fun about that, a delightful little slice (pun intended) of childhood. But how often are kids in the kitchen helping to cook dinner? Tearing lettuce, cutting tomatoes? Not very often. Why? Is it because kids are not interested? Is it because we shoo kids out of the kitchen, so we can have some peace and quiet while we get our Julia Child on? Is it because our kids are so busy playing the violin, lacrosse, swimming, and doing homework they don’t have time? Is it because they make giant kitchen messes? Is it because as a culture we don’t value home cooking anymore?

Here’s what I know. On average, Americans now spend twenty-seven minutes per day preparing food (1). Yet the average American spends more than five hours watching live television per day, thirty-two minutes per day watching pre-recorded television, about an hour on the computer, and an hour on a phone (2). Michael Pollan, in his latest book, Cooked, calls this the cooking paradox, we enjoy watching other people cooking on television (think Food Network), but not actually doing it ourselves. Trust me, I’m not trying to put women back in the kitchen and out of other jobs. No, I think girls and boys should learn this life skill early, so they can care for themselves and others throughout life.

If our kids never step foot in the family kitchen to learn to sauté some chard or cook salmon, what will they feed themselves when they move into their first apartment and beyond? Ramen noodles for all? A scary statistic that I often refer to is that one in three children born after 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime. One. In. Three. Staggering. Many experts blame processed food, fast food, take out food, and frozen food for obesity and diabetes epidemics. Some experts think these epidemics would not exist if people ate primarily home cooked food.

Photo Credit: Amy Hendren

Photo Credit: Amy Hendren

Here is why I think teaching our kids to cook is a valuable way to spend our precious, scarce time, and worth the inevitable mess and inconvenience.

Time spent with our kids is limited, and doing something productive together is time well spent.

Teaching our kids something we enjoy, or learning a new skill together (if you are a cooking novice) is relationship building.

Cooking offers great opportunity for learning. There are many math and chemistry lessons to be had in cooking.

Cooking for children is confidence building. Children feel tremendous pride when they help prepare family meals.

Children who contribute to household chores are more responsible, more connected to their families, and build self-esteem when they help.

Children are much more likely to try the food they cook, which increases food repertoires and bolsters nutrition. (Don’t pressure them; let it come naturally).

Food and smells have an incredible ability to evoke memories - build positive ones with your children. When I make my childhood recipes, it takes me back to 10-year-old me, and my mom spending time in the kitchen.

What can kids do in the kitchen? Every child is different, but here are some ideas for typical jobs for different ages. Constant kitchen supervision is always important. Consider your child’s capabilities when deciding which tasks are appropriate for them.

Ages 6-7: cracking eggs, grating cheese, peeling raw fruits and vegetables, using a microplane zester, using measuring cups and spoons, mixing, stirring, forming cookies and patties, tearing leaves, cutting cherry tomatoes with a butter knife, rinsing beans, slicing and scooping avocados, etcetera (3).

Ages 8-9: the above plus using a can opener, pizza cutter, scooping batter into muffin tins, pounding chicken, scraping down unplugged electric mixer bowl, skewering food. Some children this age are mature enough to work at the stove; others are not (3).

Ages 10-12: experienced children can begin to cook independently, at first with very close adult supervision to assess their skills and ensure they are safe. Less experienced children still need adult supervision and instruction to learn the above skills (3).

Photo Credit: Amy Hendren

Photo Credit: Amy Hendren

Pesto is a favorite of mine. Add pesto to just about anything, and it is terrific! And let me tell you, freshly made pesto is oh-so-much better than anything off the shelf. Try making some nut-free pesto with your children; it is a delicious project. My basic recipe is 2 ½ cups fresh basil leaves, 3 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, ¾ cup olive oil, ½ cup parmesan cheese. Throw it all in a food processor, and voila! One of my easiest family dinners is to mix 1 ½ lb. ground turkey with 1/3 cup pesto and ¼ cup parmesan cheese, and ¼ cup bread crumbs. Have your children help mix and form patties. Cook these as sliders in a skillet over medium heat until a meat thermometer reads 165 when inserted in the middle of the burger. Serve with tomato sauce or cheese, lettuce and tomato, and enjoy as a family! 

Sources:

(1) Pollan, Michael. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. New York: The Penguin Press, 2013. Print.

(2) Hinckley, David. Average American Watches 5 hours of TV per Day Report Shows, New York Daily News, 5 March 2014. Web. 22 December 2014

(3) Negrin, Julie. Easy Meals to Cook with Kids. New York: Authorhouse, 2010. Print.

Wonton Making (Video) with Kids for Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year! As we head into year of the goat, I’m sharing one of our family’s favorite cooking activities…wonton making!

I lived in Singapore for several years when I was a kid, which cemented my affection for Asian cuisine. I remember making wontons with my mom! We would also swing by this adorable little dim sum shop to pick up these delicious gems after school in Singapore! Ironically, my husband has a similar memory.  He had a Chinese grandmother who taught him how to make wontons as a little boy; she instilled in him this intuitive ability to make incredible Asian food! Yum!! We love these – they are delicious, and fun to make as a family!

Cooking with kids is time well spent. Not only is it fun togetherness, it is one way to encourage healthy eating, increased food repertoires, and interest in non-kid food. (Also a good way to spend some hours in those never-ending snow days). It also teaches skills and builds confidence for children who will one day (hopefully) cook for themselves and others.  Check out my assistant’s little demonstration video here:

Although wonton creation takes a little seeking and gathering, the actual process of making them could not be easier. First, you are going to need a bamboo steamer. Your bamboo steamer will sit inside a pan filled with water (see below). It is important that the bamboo doesn’t touch the flame/heat of stove. I use a 12-inch saute pan with an 10-inch bamboo steamer inside. See picture below. You can purchase a similar bamboo steamer for $19 on Amazon. This recipe requires some ingredients typical in many Asian dishes. If you don’t cook a lot of Asian food, build your pantry/fridge with these ingredients, and you can venture out into the delicious world of Asian cuisine!

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Like what you read? Please subscribe to Petite Nutrition blog in the box on the upper right of this page for it to land in your email! Or like us on Facebook and Instagram. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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Petite Nutrition’s Chicken Vegetable Wontons

(Makes approximately 24 wontons)

24 wonton wrappers (in refrigerated section near tofu)

8oz ground skinless, boneless chicken breast

¼ cup bok choy, finely chopped

1 Tbsp ginger, minced

¼ cup scallions, finely chopped

1 Tbsp chives, finely chopped

2 Tbsp shitake mushrooms, finely chopped

1 Tbsp soy sauce (reduced sodium)

1 ½ Tbsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp rice wine

1 egg, beaten

Parchment paper (for lining bamboo steamer)

1.     Prepare saute pan and bamboo steamer. Add 4 cups water to 12-inch sauce pan. Cut or rip a circle parchment paper to place in the top portion of bamboo steamer.

2.     Mix all ingredients (except wonton wrappers and egg) in a large bowl.

3.     One at a time, take each individual wonton wrapper (keep the others in a sealed bag, so they don’t dry out). Add one teaspoon of chicken mixture to the center. Brush egg on perimeter of wonton wrapper. Seal package bringing four corners together, or fold them as you wish. (My husband just smushes all sides together!) Place in bamboo steamer.

4.     Continue making wontons until top level of bamboo steamer is full with one layer of wontons. Make sure you help kids practice food safety, and wash hands well after handling raw eggs and chicken. 

5.     Cover steamer. Bring to a boil, and steam for 12 minutes once water starts boiling until cooked through. (Inside of wonton should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit).

6.     Off heat, uncover and let cool. Remove wontons, and serve warm with soy sauce for dipping*.

*You can also make delicious Asian soups with these. Enjoy!

10 Healthy Valentines Day Treats!

Monday will be our THIRD Monday snow day in a row! Being a California girl, this month is particularly challenging for me here in good ol' New England! The piles of snow, frigid temps, and a house full of sick kids...It's a real party around here! So you can understand how I've had some time on my hands and am ready to have some fun with Valentines Day!

Don't call me scrooge, but I support non-food celebrations at school. Our school has done this, and I appreciate it. With birthdays, celebrations, and holidays, it seems like every other day can be a cupcake day at school. And you know what? Non-food celebrations are just as much fun for the kids. Let's save the special treats for less-often, more special, occasions! And make healthy treats at home!

I recently wrote an article on cooking with kids and made the observation that kids are often taught to bake but not cook. While I have nothing against baking with kids, cooking with kids is just as important and fun! Here are 10 fun ideas to get the kids in the kitchen this Valentines Day and create some healthy Valentines day treats! (Hint: heart shaped cookie cutters go a long way)!

1. Petite Nutrition Muffins - Have you tried our recipe? They are very healthy and kids looooove them! One reader told me she couldn't believe how her kids gobbled them up like candy!

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

2. French toast hearts

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

3. Peanut butter sandwich with smashed raspberries

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

4. Roasted rosemary sweet potato hearts

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

5. Heart shaped cheese and crackers

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

6. Eggy heart toast

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

7. Roasted tomato soup with grilled cheese heart floater

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

8. Petite sliders with heart buns

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

9. Avocado toast with heart radishes

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

10. Put the kids to bed...Enjoy a glass of wine with your guy, and make Ina Garten's Tri-berry Crumble (from her latest cookbook, Make it Ahead). Yum!

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

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#Deflate-gate Chicken Chili

Whether you are a Belichick/ Brady believer or hater, this chicken chili can go with football or just a Katy Perry dance party at half-time!

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Growing up outside San Francisco in the Joe Montana football era, it felt like the 49ers went to the Super Bowl almost every year. My dad loved them, and I still do, even living in New England. The funny thing is Tom Brady grew up close by in California, so since Tom and I are practically childhood friends, and since my husband is a slightly fanatical New England fan, please don’t judge me for drinking a sip or two of the (Patriots) kool aid. Regardless, forget about PSIs and atmospheric influence on footballs, and serve up Deflate-gate Chicken Chili for your crowd! Super healthy and yummy! 

I've served this to just about everyone I know, and people really love it. It is easy, healthy, delicious, and budget-friendly! A group of kids recently gobbled it up. 

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Don't forget the toppings (cheese, yogurt, guacamole, cilantro are delish)! Kids love serving themselves food family style, and toppings are a great way for them to gain exposure to new foods and to explore them.

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

 #Deflate-gate Chicken Chili

Adapted from Food & Wine*

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin chunks
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2  tsp salt
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes                                                                                                                                                                                         2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 15oz can pinto beans
1 15oz can black beans

cilantro, yogurt, shredded cheese, guacamole (optional)

1. In a dutch oven or large sauce pan over medium heat, saute onions and garlic with oil until they start to soften.

2. Stir in the chicken, and cook until chicken is cooked through (no longer pink), about 4 minutes.

3. Add cumin, oregano and salt, and stir to combine.

4. Stir in the bell peppers, crushed tomatoes and stock.

5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

6. Uncover the pan, stir in the beans, and simmer for another 15 minutes.

7. Serve with toppings!

(When serving a crowd, I often make this on the stove a little bit ahead, and then put it in the slow cooker on warm until dinner time.)

*This originally was a Food & Wine recipe, that I've changed so much, it barely resembles the original.