April 2011 | Hotlunch.com | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 2, Issue 3]

Helping Picky Eaters

Parents who have to deal with picky eaters probably roll their eyes and sigh whenever the topic of increasing their children’s intake of vegetables comes up in conversation.  Why are picky eaters so picky? Some kids hate the bitter taste of vegetables, others dislike the texture, and some experts believe refusing certain foods is a way for children to attempt to control their environment.

It’s frustrating to fight over every meal and parents may just give up and let their kids eat mac and cheese, Ramen noodles, or frozen pizza every night. Eventually, most kids grow out of their picky eating stage, but is there anything a mom or dad can do to help?

Try it. You might like it.

This article offers some help from pediatricians and nutritionists.  The first piece of advice from pediatricians Shari Nethersole and Ruth Sakakeeny is to not worry too much about nutritional deficiencies in a picky eater.  Most picky eaters are still healthy and active; although some parents may wish to give them multivitamin supplements.


Nutritionists Liz Weiss and Janice Bissex offer some ideas for helping families get through the picky years.  They don’t like the idea of hiding pureed foods (doesn’t teach kids about healthy eating) so they have ‘made over’ many favorite recipes into healthier, but still delicious, versions.

Weiss and Bissex also offer these tips:

  • Don’t use dessert as a reward or withhold it as punishment.
  • Canned vegetables are better than no vegetables.
  • Don’t cook a separate meal for the picky eater.
  • Offer one healthy alternative, such as a peanut butter sandwich.
  • Serve a new food many times - eventually the child will try it.
Chef In the School Kitchen

There’s always at least two questions about serving healthy meals to students: will the kids eat them and how much will they cost? Many school lunch program staffers deal with these questions every year - lets take a look at a success story and how it was done:

Miracle worker in the school kitchen

Chicago Chef Paul Boundas figured out how to serve healthier school lunches from scratch for less than the government reimbursements schools rely on to cover the costs.  And, the kids are happy to eat them.  How does he do it?  He introduces healthier foods gradually, adapts the menu to use foods at the best price and hires workers who love to cook.

Teach kids about energy drinks

  • Use more whole grain flour.
  • Base purchases on market availability.
  • Making and packaging fresh lemonade instead of bottled drinks.
Encouraging Kids to Eat Better By Numbers

Sometimes it helps to adapt an acronym or a phrase or a mascot to help encourage kids to eat better - maybe because it’s just fun or perhaps it’s easier to remember what to do. I like how Brown County in Wisconsin found a great way to teach kids to get healthier by using an easy-to-remember number:

Initiative encourages kids’ health by the numbers.

This is a fun take on encouraging kids to eat better. An initiative in Green Bay, Wisconsin was set up a program simply called ‘54218,’ which sounds like a zip code so it’s easy to remember. Here’s what the numbers mean for kids every day:
5 - number of servings of fruits and vegetables
4 - bottles of water (not soft drinks)
2 - hours maximum of TV or computer time
1 - hour of physical activity
8 - hours of sleep

How can you do something like this?

  • Check out your school’s zip code or area code - can you fit the numbers to something healthy?
  • Have kids design posters promoting the new fitness project.
  • Use charts so kids can keep track of their daily numbers
Food Costs Are Rising

A typical American spends about 10% of his or her income on food, but that percentage is probably going to go up. The price of wheat, corn and other staple ingredients is going up and the costs to the consumer are going up with them.

Cheap food may be a thing of the past.

According to this article, food prices are going up fast, in fact some individual ingredients are up as much as 60 percent over what they were a year ago.  The USDA forecasts that total food costs will rise by 3 to 4  percent this year.   But why?  Economists tell us it’s due to several factors: the fall of the dollar, political unrest in other countries, high crude oil prices, and poorer crop yields that are complicated by in increased interest in growing crops for fuel instead of food.

Meats in particular are expected to rise in price do to the doubling of the cost of feed prices.  There’s also more demand for meat from China, India and other countries as they consume more meat than in the past.  More demand equals higher prices.

What’s the solution?  According to this article, it looks like there are two schools of

thought: some experts urge the promotion of natural farming techniques while others are pushing for changes in farming technology, including the incorporation of more genetically modified crops, such as wheat and rice.

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Hotlunch.com has expanded our online  presence to Facebook. The new Hotlunch.com Facebook Page will provide you a wealth of information and updates on School and Children’s nutrition.

This month we pick one lucky winner from our followers on facebook. To improve your chances to win  $50 for you school please click  “like us” on  Facebook­ Page.

Kale - Green Superfood

This dark green leafy vegetable is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and mustard. Kale may be eaten raw, but since the leaves are somewhat tough, kale is usually cooked before serving.

Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, and a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C, while being low in sodium. Kale is low in calories too; one cup of chopped kale has 34 calories and a little over one gram of fiber.
Kale also contains large amounts of phytochemicals, called lutein and zeaxanthin, that are related to vitamin A and may help lower your risk of developing age-related eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Studies on large populations of subjects suggest that eating kale and other cruciferous vegetables may help to prevent some forms of cancer, although the results are not conclusive. It's difficult to determine if specific foods truly prevent (or cause) cancer and other diseases because there are so many potential confounding factors. For example, people who eat more cruciferous vegetables may also eat more vegetables in general or be more health-conscious.

How to choose and serve kale:
You'll find kale in the produce section of your grocery store. Look for dark green bunches of leaves that are crisp and not wilted. You can freeze kale or store it in the refrigerator in a covered container.

For raw kale, rinse the kale and remove the stems. Slice the leaves into strips and use in salads. Kale can be chopped and boiled or steamed or used as an ingredient in a hearty soup or stew. You can also make dehydrated or baked Kale chips, which make a nutritious snack that is low in calories.
More About School Lunches and Healthy Kids

Kids eat right with colorful gardens

A Great Divide in School Lunches Funding

Burn off those Girl Scout cookies

Visual comparisons help control food portions

About Shereen Jegtvig

Shereen Jegtvig is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is a member of the American Dietetic Association. Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website About.com (http://nutrition.about.com), is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies (http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470445394.html), and teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.