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Disclosure: I am happy to bring you this sponsored post today, thanks to Alberta Milk. All thoughts are my own.

Are you worried that your child doesn’t get enough protein? If you’re the parent of a young child, this is a common concern. Especially if you have a selective eater with a small appetite (which is most toddlers & preschoolers!).

In this blog, I’ll discuss why your child needs protein, how much they need, where to get it and share a protein-rich breakfast recipe.

Why is protein important?

Protein is the building block of the entire body. Muscles, organs and the immune system all need protein.

It also helps to keep us feeling full, so it’s good to offer protein at each meal and snack.

How much protein does my child need?

To figure out how much protein your child needs, take their weight in pounds and divide by two. For example, a 40 pound child needs about 20 grams of protein per day.

For children of average weight, this works out to about 13 grams of protein per day for 1-3 year olds. And 19 grams per day for a 4-8 year old.

What does this look like in terms of food and meal choices? Read on:

Amount of Protein in Foods

Beef, 1 oz (1/3 of the size of a deck of cards) = 7g

Chicken, 1 oz = 9g

Eggs, 1 = 6g

Cooked Lentils, 1/4 cup = 4.5g

Hemp hearts, 1 Tbsp = 3g

Peanut butter, 2 Tbsp = 7g

Cow’s Milk, 1 cup = 8g

Cottage Cheese, 1/2 cup = 11.5g

Greek Yogurt, 70g (1 individual  container) = 17g

Cheese, 30g/1oz = 7g

Example Day of Food

I’ve broken down a sample day of 3 meals and 2 snacks for a young child, with estimates of protein.

If your kiddo ate all of this food, he’d be getting over 50g of protein. If he chooses to eat half, he’d get 25g. Which is still more than adequate for an up to 8 year old!

As you can see, protein in not all that hard to find. If your child drinks 2 cups of milk, then they’re getting 16g of protein right there. Which more than meets the requirements for a 1-3 year old.

Protein Power Pancakes

So while your little one is likely getting enough protein, there are still benefits of offering it at each meal.  This ensures your child gets the minerals that come along with high protein foods. For example beyond protein, meat also contains zinc and iron. And dairy contains magnesium, calcium, Vitamin A and potassium.

Protein is also great to offer at each meal to keep your child satisfied for longer. If you’re looking for protein-rich recipes, head over to the Alberta Milk website.

I found these Protein Power Pancakes on the Alberta Milk website here. Each pancake contains 9g of protein, and they are whole grain. One batch lasted us for 4 breakfasts, with the leftovers quickly popped in the toaster to warm in the morning!

The post Protein for Kids appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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March is Nutrition Month dietitians are helping Canadians Unlock the Potential of Food.

Today I’m going to talk more about unlocking the potential of food to DISCOVER: by teaching children to shop and cook. Starting from a young age, inspiring children to shop, prepare and cook food can set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Prefer to watch? Check out my clip on Global TV discussing getting kids in the kitchen.

A great way to teach children about food is to let them join you in the kitchen; Yet, a recent Ipsos survey conducted in 2017 for Dietitians of Canada found that 38 per cent of parents rarely or never let their child prepare a meal or snack.

It totally get that it’s messy and time consuming, but it’s a missed opportunity! So today I have five tips for getting kids involved in the kitchen:

1.Incorporate learning 

Build on lessons they learn in school, such as math, science or reading! Younger children can practice fine motor skills by stirring and pouring.

2. Keep it fun!

Imaginative play helps children get involved. Make a theme night or turn your kitchen into a restaurant or reality cooking show. My kids love creating menus and taking “orders.”
 Or create art: it’s fun for them to eat their art creation!

3. Be a role model:

If you’re excited to cook and try new foods, they will be too. Try a new food, describe the flavour and be adventurous to inspire your eaters to do the same. Get other members of the family involved. 


4. Be cool about the mess:

Spills and accidental messes happen, and it’s important to remain calm about inevitable mishaps. Keep kitchen towels handy for cleaning up spills. Cleaning up messes is a part of learning how to be in the kitchen, so get your kids to help clean up.

5. Pick a recipe together:

Children need to be part of the plan from the beginning, and it helps if they prepare something that they love to eat. Shop for groceries together too! Kids are much more likely to eat what they choose or help make, so cooking at home is a great tip if you have picky eaters.

WHAT CAN MY CHILD DO?

Here’s a guideline of kitchen skills based on age:

  • 2-3 year olds can wash vegetables and fruit or tear lettuce and salad greens
  • 3-4 year olds can mash potatoes and bananas or mix together batters
  • 4-6 year olds can measure dry and liquid ingredients or set the table
  • 6-8 year olds can toss salad ingredients together or make a simple breakfast
  • 8-12 year olds can make their own school lunch or help to plan meals
  • Teens can follow more complicated recipes or assemble and mix most ingredients. They can also be in charge of making one meal per week.

Adapted from the Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month campaign materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at www.nutritionmonth2018.ca.

The post Unlock the Potential of Food to Discover: Getting Kids in the Kitchen appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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I love freezer meals! What a huge time (and money) save, to double a recipe and throw half in the freezer for another night. One of those nights when you don’t have the time or energy to cook from scratch, but don’t want to order in again.

Recently I had 3 friends over to do a group cook for freezer meals. It was a great chance to chat, drink a glass of wine and fill our freezers!

Each person picked their favourite freezer meal and brought ingredients for quadruple the recipe. They also brought along a few extra cooking tools and 4 freezer pans to take home 4 different freezer meals.

Freezer Meal Tips:
  • Chill the food before freezing. Otherwise it will raise the freezers temperature, affecting foods around it. Ice crystals will also form on top of your food, decreasing quality. One good way to cool the food is to place in a shallow dish and put in the fridge until cold.
  • Freeze in an airtight container. Avoid air exposure = freezer burn.
  • Freezer bags work for soup and stew and can be placed flat (don’t put hot food in it, or it will leach into your food).
  • Glass containers can go from freezing to thawing to baking. As can stoneware, BUT stoneware must be thawed before placing in the freezer or can crack.
  • You can also freeze in individual portions for single lunches. I wrap burritos in plastic and then tinfoil.
  • Mason jars are good to freeze liquids like broth, soups and sauces. Don’t over fill.
  • Label your meals with date and what it is and amount.
  • Thaw in the fridge the night before. Or in cold water (fish), can change water every 30 mins and will go quicker. Or in microwave in a microwave safe dish.

This turkey chili is one of my favourite freezer meals: Turkey Chili.

Want more meal planning ideas? Grab my 16 easy dinner recipes below

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This is a guest post from a nutrition practicum student Mosope. She just happens to be a mom of 2, and pregnant with her third so pregnancy nutrition was the perfect topic for Mosopoe to write about today:

As someone who have been through 2 pregnancies and in currently in my third, I know all too well the struggles and fears that many mothers face in pregnancy: from food cravings to heartburn and the inevitable nausea. While the last thing that you might want to hear while you are dealing with these issues and more is that you need to make “healthy choices”, research has shown that the nutrition and lifestyle choices during pregnancy can affect the health of both the mother and the baby. A healthy diet can help prevent or manage pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia or excessive weight gain. Therefore, if you are currently pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you might find the following guidelines useful.

Calories

Tracking your calories during pregnancy is not required, actually it’s something that I myself never do. However, it is important to ensure that you are not eating too much or too little…but what exactly does that mean?

There is no increased caloric requirement during the first trimester of pregnancy. Usually during this time, women tend to have nausea and food aversions that may make it hard to even meet their daily caloric requirements. I personally find it hard to keep anything down during this period of my pregnancies. I have found that Starchy foods and foods high in fiber and protein can be very helpful during this time. Refer to previous post Nutrition Tips to Help with Pregnancy Nausea for more detail. 

During the 2nd trimester the recommendation is and additional 340kcal/day. This is the equivalent of a slice of bread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or a small meal of ½ a cup of brown rice with chicken.

The increased calorie recommendation for the 3rd trimester is 450kcal/day. This is the equivalent of 2 slices of bread with peanut butter or a turkey wrap.

Macronutrients: Carbs, Protein & Fats

In pregnancy a diet high in fiber which consists of whole foods (fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates), lean protein and essential fatty acids is ideal. The only macronutrient that has an increased recommended daily allowance (RDA) in pregnancy is protein. It is important to ensure that you are getting adequate protein which is the building block for tissue.

Micronutrients: Vitamins & Minerals

While there is a slight increase in caloric requirements during pregnancy, there is a more notable increase in some micronutrients that are important for fetal development and growth. These include;

  • Folate – Folate is required for cell growth, and for reducing the risk of neurological tube defects in the fetus. Folate-rich foods include green leafy vegetables, legumes, and folate-enriched flour. However, a folic acid supplement is required because the increased requirement of cannot be met through diet alone.
  • Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is essential for the formation of red blood cells, brain development and for normal neurological function. Pregnant women who are vegans or vegetarians are likely to be deficient in vitamin B12 because it is mostly available in animal products such as, beef, fish and eggs.
  • Iron – Iron is required in pregnancy to support fetal and placental growth, as well as the increasing blood volume of the mother. Iron can be absorbed from meat, meat products, fish and dark vegetables.
  • Calcium – The calcium requirement during pregnancy does not increase from the recommended, however, it is important to meet the RDA because calcium is taken from the mother’s skeleton to support fetal bone development. Calcium primarily found in dairy products, as well as in leafy vegetables, fortified soy products and cereals.
  • Vitamin D – An increase in vitamin D is not required. However, it is especially important to have sufficient vitamin D during pregnancy to enhance calcium absorption and deposition. Dietary sources of vitamin D include milk, eggs and oily fish.

Most of the above mentioned micronutrients can be derived from an adequate diet as mentioned as well as from using a good prenatal multivitamin as recommended by your doctor.

If you need help with navigating your pregnancy nutrition journey, First Step Nutrition can help. Sign up below to grab my free video: the most important pregnancy nutrient you’ve never heard of: 

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Welcome to Nutrition Month 2018! Dietitians across Canada are helping Canadians Unlock the Potential of Food. 

How can we Unlock the Potential of Food? Food can help us to:

Fuel: Stay energized by planning nutritious snacks into your day.

Discover: Foster healthy eating habits in kids by teaching them to shop & cook.

Prevent: Understand how food can help prevent chronic diseases.

Heal: Learn how food can promote healing.

Bring us together: Enjoy the benefits of bringing families and friends together.

Today I wanted to talk more about FUELLING with food, and specifically staying energized with snacks.

About 30% of Canadians snack throughout their day. I know I do! And this is ok, as we can think of snacks as mini-meals that can help us meet our nutritional needs and give use an energy boost.

Here are 5 Tips for Healthy Snacking:
  1. Plan ahead: keep healthy, ready-to-eat snacks in your purse or at your desk. Something like dried trail mix is easy to keep, and helps you avoid less healthy snack-attacks.
  2. Be aware of portion sizes: Instead of eating right out of the large box or bag, take our your portion and place it on a plate to prevent over-eating.
  3. Listen to your hunger cues: Are you eating because you’re hungry, or because you’re bored, stressed or tired? We don’t want to snack just for something to do, but because we’re actually hungry and listening to our appetite.
  4. Skip distracted snacking: Avoid eating while watching TV or working on the computer. You will likely eat more than you need if you’re distracted! We’ve all got to the bottom of the bag of chips during our favourite show, and wondered why at them all, right?!
  5. Snack on vegetables. About half of Canadians don’t get enough fruits and vegetetables. Snacking on them is a great way to add an extra serving or two to your day. Which links back to tip #1: being prepared! Slice up those cucumbers and bell peppers when you get home from the store, so they’re easy to grab when you’re ready for a snack.

Want some snack ideas? Check out this post, with a recipe for Prune Energy Balls. Or this post, for my Top 5 On-the-Go snacks for kids.

Also take a look at Cookspiration, a free app from Dietitians of Canada. The Lentil Pumpkin loaf would be great to double batch and keep in the freezer for snacks!

Find out more about nutrition month at: www.NutritionMonth2018.ca

The post Unlock the Potential of Food: Fueling with Snacks appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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As a dietitian working with parents of young children, one of the most frequently asked questions is: “How to get my kids to eat their veggies?” Should you bribe them with dessert? Reward them with praise? Hide the veggies in other foods?

Watch the video below, or read on to find out!

How to get kids to eat vegetables - YouTube

To answer this question, I wanted to share a study that looked at whether kids ate more veggies if you rewarded them. This took place in Belgium and the researchers looked at 98 preschool aged children. they gave the kids a variety of veggies and found out the least-liked veggie was chicory (a really bitter tasting vegetable). So the authors used chicory as the study vegetable.

Twice a week, the preschool children were offered a bowl of steamed chicory. The kids were  split them into three groups:

1) The first group was simply offered the vegetable.

2) The second group was offered the vegetable, along with the promise of a reward (a toy or a sticker) if they ate the chicory

3) The third group was offered verbal praise for eating the vegetable.

Then the researchers did a follow up test eight weeks later. In the group that was just repeatedly offered the vegetable (with no extra reward), 81% rated that they liked the chicory. Then 68% of those that were rewarded with a sticker or a toy liked the vegetable and 75% who were rewarded with verbal praise liked the vegetable.

This helps to show that rewarding (which is seen as pressure) actually decreases your kid’s likelihood of actually eating and enjoying the vegetable. The best thing you can do to get your kids to eat their vegetables and enjoy them, is to repeatedly expose them to it over and over. With no pressure at all.

There are some other things that you can do to encourage kids to eat the vegetables without any pressure, like serving them in different forms.

  • Kids often like food or veggies in the shape of fries, baked or baked as chips. If you have a mandolin you can use that for sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips and just roast them, which brings out some of the natural flavour.
  • It’s okay to add butter, salt. Dips are fine as well!
  • You can give the veggies funny names, like “here’s your trees and cheese!” if it’s broccoli. Or  “super-sight carrots.” Studies show kids will eat more of those fun foods!
  • Offer vegetables at a time when your kid is likely to be hungry and therefore more likely to try them. Such as before dinner or when they get home from school.
  • Getting kids involved. Let them pick out a new vegetable they haven’t tried at the store. They will be more likely to want to give that veggie a taste.

Overall, you don’t want to include any pressure with those tactics. And I saw this myself a couple weeks ago. I offered my family sliced cucumbers with dinner and my three year old said “No. I’m not eating these.”  And I said, “okay.”  He ended up eating six slices! Yey if I had said, “Arden, you have to take a bite” or “You have to eat one piece before you have dessert,” then likely there would have been screams, there would have been fighting. Maybe he would have taken a bite, but that’s it. So by removing that pressure he actually ended up eating more of the cucumber.

Struggling with a picky eater at home? I have a three part video series that you can sign up for below: 

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Disclosure: I am happy to bring you this sponsored post today, thanks to Alberta Milk. All thoughts are my own.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Speaking of love…….does food = love for you?

Often food is often equated with love. And this can be a beautiful relationship!

  • Think of a breastfeeding baby, learning that their food comes along with their mother’s loving touch and cuddles.
  • Or eating at a romantic restaurant on a first date.
  • Or your mom’s chicken noodle soup when you’re sick.

These are all fantastic ways to love food! But learning to equate food with love is not always a good thing. It causes some of us to turn to food for comfort when we’re depressed or lonely. This can result overeating and guilt.

As a parent, we hope to raise kids who have a healthy relationship with food. This will help prevent picky eating in young kids, disordered eating and struggles with weight later on.

While your kids need nutrients to grow – it’s just as important that you as a parent help them to establish a healthy emotional relationship with food too. We don’t want to train our kids to run to food for comfort. Or reward themselves after a hard day (probably most days!) with cake.

How do we do help our kids to have a healthy emotional relationship with food?

Here are 3 tips to help:

1) Let your child choose how much to eat

Pressuring kids to eat more food just makes them eat less. And pressuring them to eat less, causes them to eat more. Trust your child’s own judgement of their own appetite and follow the Division of Responsibility in Feeding. Not only will it allow your child to continue listening to their appetite as they grow, but makes mealtimes far more peaceful!

2) Don’t reward or bribe with food

It’s a common tactic to reward your child with dessert for finishing their vegetables or dinner. But what this is really telling your child, is that they must eat the “yucky” food before they get the more desirable sweet! It puts the dessert on a pedestal and may create a sweet tooth for life.

So those Valentine’s day chocolates your kids brought home from school? Don’t save them for a bribe once dinner is eaten. Check out Ellyn Satter’s post dealing with “forbidden foods.”

3) Don’t console with food

How often have you offered your child a candy or cookie when they are hurt or crying? While it’s a good distraction and does temporarily make them happy, it’s not a good long-term solution. Essentially, it’s training your child to seek food as comfort, instead of dealing with their problems in a more productive way.

One way to show love this Valentine’s Day is to spend time in the kitchen, letting our kiddos help out. While it’s definitely more work to involve a little sous-chef, not only will this make them more willing to try new foods now, but it’s an important life skill!

My favourite kid-friendly Valentine’s dinner to make with my family is heart-shaped pizzas! I love this Black Bean pizza recipe Alberta Milk, for something a little different and Mexican-inspired. Roll out the dough, do your best to make a heart shape, and everyone can add their own toppings.

Check out Alberta Milk to view more family-friendly recipes!

The post 3 Tips to Help your Child Grow up to Love Food in a Healthy Way appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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Do you have troubles getting enough iron in your diet?

If you’re pregnant, vegetarian or a baby – even if you just regularly get your period…or are a picky eating toddler…the answer is probably yes.

Pregnancy nausea can bring challenges with swallowing large prenatal vitamins.

Vegetarians require 1.5x the amount of iron in their diet. The non-heme iron from vegetarian foods is not absorbed as well as the heme iron from meat.

And babies between the ages of 7-12 months need large amounts of iron to support fast growth. Unless you formula feed and offer fortified infant cereal multiple times a day, they’re probably falling short. Want to know more about how to make sure your baby gets enough iron? Read my blog post here.

So what’s the problem with having low iron? It can lead to decreased immunity, fatigue, troubles focusing, pale skin, weak hair and nails and even irreversible neurological defects in babies.

And iron deficiency is common. I’ve experienced it. So has my daughter. Along with 3.5 billion people in the world.

That’s why I think the Lucky Iron Fish is so neat! Developed in Canada, it’s a natural way to add more iron into your diet. Boil it in your stock, soup, teas or water with a bit of lemon juice to naturally infuse extra iron into your food and drinks.

I tested it out today and boiled my soup with the fish in it, as well as some water.The soup tasted normal. I thought the water might have a very slight iron taste, but if you add a bit more lemon juice, it would be fine.

Want to grab one or learn more?

Head over to my First Step Nutrition Facebook page to watch video  or visit their website at: https://luckyironfish.com/

The post Iron & the Lucky Iron Fish appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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DISCLAIMER: This post was sponsored by the California Dried Plum Board. All opinions are my own #ad

Happy 2018! If you have resolutions this year to feed your family better, I encourage starting small. For example, one good area to start with could be daily snacks.

Snacks are a struggle for many of the moms I work with, when feeding their kids. One step to healthy snacking for kids is to offer set “snack” times, rather than allowing your child open access to the pantry. This will allow them to have an appetite come meal time.

As for what to offer for snacks, it doesn’t have to be chocolate-dipped granola bars and fishy crackers. Keep it simple, and just think of offering 2 food groups. Here are a few simple ideas:

Balanced Snack Ideas

1) Peanut butter on whole grain crackers

2) Boiled egg and fruit

3) Berries and yogurt

4) Fruit smoothie

5) Veggies and hummus dip

6) Energy balls with nuts and fruit (see recipe below)

California Prune Energy Balls

These prune energy balls taste like chocolate and are an easy, balanced snack to take on-the-go. Give them a try!

3/4 cup (75mL) almonds and walnuts mix

1 cup (250mL) California prunes

1/4 cup (50mL) chia seeds

2 Tbsp (30mL) cocoa powder

2 Tbsp (30mL) smooth nut butter

coconut oil, to blend

1/3 cup (75ml) desiccated coconut

Directions

1) Place nuts in bowl of a food processor with knife blade and blitz for 10 seconds.

2) Add California prunes, chia, cocoa and nut butter and blend until smooth.

3) Add a small amount of coconut oil, a few drops at a time, until the mixture is sticky, and holds its shape when you roll a small amount between your fingers.

4) Take a tablespoon (15mL) of the mixture and roll into a ball. Continue creating balls until mixture is all gone.

5) Place coconut onto a small plate and roll balls into the coconut, to coat.

6) Place balls in an air-tight container in the fridge. They will keep for up to a week.

Benefits of Prunes

Speaking of healthy snacks, prunes and kids…..many of my clients also struggle with constipated babies or children. Prunes are often the go-to solution, but do you know why? Not only do prunes contain fibre, but they also contain sorbitol and phenolic acids. The sorbitol helps draw water into bowels to make bowel movements easier to pass.

Another great health benefits of prunes besides intestinal health, is that one daily serving (5-6) prunes helps slow bone loss.  They have some important bone-building nutrients such as vitamin K and Magnesium.

Prunes also a portable nutritious snack without added sugar. Keep some in your car for snack-attacks, mixed with nuts for a balanced snack. Prunes can also be a good addition to salads, baked goods and entrees. Check out some more recipe ideas on the California Dried Plums website here.

The post Healthy Snacking for the New Year appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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Do you have a new years resolution for 2018?

If so, averages show that you have an 8% of chance of meeting your goals.

Why is the success rate soooo low with new years resolutions?

Many goals are just way to extreme for a normal, busy person to prioritize and meet! If you can aim smaller, you might be more likely to achieve success.

I won’t even touch on  weight loss goals.  Besides saying that: DIETS DON’T WORK. The multi-billion dollar diet industry proves this…it wouldn’t exist if they actually worked!

Extreme food-related resolutions are popular too. Fun ones – like avoiding all sugar, gluten and caffeine. Instead of taking things out of your diet – what about adding nutritious food in? This will automatically leave less room for less nutrient-dense foods in your diet. And be less depressing. Try adding in a vegetable every lunch, for example.

Aiming to start cooking from scratch every night come January 1st? When you currently do take out or processed foods most nights? Instead, maybe try out 1 new dinner recipe a week.

Instead of “Go to the gym 5 times per week” when you’ve never gone to the gym regularly in your life (other than the first 2 weeks of January)….pick an activity that easily fits into your lifestyle and that you enjoy. Maybe sign up to an online yoga or workout subscription. I like yogaglo.com and Beachbody on Demand.  I’ve found many 20-30 minute workouts here that are easier to fit in than the 2 hours it takes me go to and from the gym. And no child-care needed (beyond maybe an ipad).

You’ll be far more likely to be one of the successful 8% that meets their new years resolution goals if you aim smaller. And then next year, you can add on another small change. They do add up.

Happy New Year & cheers to a great 2018!

The post Ditch the Big New Years Resolution appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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